With Paul Johnson officially "stepping away" for a break after 40 years as a college coach, the early chatter surrounding the new opening at Georgia Tech has brought a few names to the forefront.
One of the names that was being shared almost immediately was former NFL head coach and current LA Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Why Whiz you may be wondering?
Again, it's early, but some, including ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, are willing to go as far as to say that Whisenhunt is the favorite to replace Johnson in Atlanta.
Whisenhunt hasn't coached college ball since a two-year stint as the special teams coach / tight ends and H-Backs coach at Vanderbilt back in 1995, but he would bring an impressive NFL pedigree to Atlanta. His coaching journey includes two stops as an NFL head coach in both Arizona (2007-12), and with the Tennessee Titans (2014-15). While with the Cardinals he led the organization to a Super Bowl in 2008, where they lost to the Steelers.
Overall, at the NFL level, Whisenhunt had a record of 48-71, including two 1st place finishes in the NFC West with the Cardinals and two total playoff appearances.
If Whisenhunt does end up being the guy, it would presumably signal the end of the option offense that Johnson had rolling there for over a decade, leaving an interesting (or perhaps very intriguing) roster makeup heavy on skill players for someone like Whiz to bring an entirely new system to.
Other names that we've heard, and seen mentioned, in connection with the job include Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott -- who interestingly enough has an actual engineering degree -- and Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield, who has done a tremendous job with the Mountaineer program leading them to a 50-24 mark since taking over in 2013, including a 3-0 bowl mark as a brand new FBS program. If somehow Neal Brown is still "on the board," one would have to like his chances as well.
A few other names that will warrant consideration if they want to stick with an option attack are former assistants Jeff Monken at Army (who worked with Johnson at both Navy and Georgia Tech), and Brian Bohannon (who worked with Johnson from 2008-12 as his quarterbacks coach / B-Backs coach) who has done a tremendous job getting the FCS Kennessaw State program (located near Atlanta) up and running. Bohannon's crew is currently 10-1 and still alive in the FCS National title hunt after starting the program from the ground up in 2013, with their first season on the field taking place in 2015.
Meanwhile, Monken has won 8, 10, and 9 games at Army the past three seasons, getting them into the top 25 toward the end of this season.
There will be no lack of interest in this job.