James Johnson was just beginning his new job as an assistant coach at Clemson when Seth Greenberg was unceremoniously fired in a move that baffled the entire college basketball world.
Now, after being spurned by a number of potential suitors with "bigger" names, Tech athletic director Jim Weaver wiped the egg from his face just long enough to find Johnson's phone number and get him to come back to Blacksburg.
Let it be clear, I think Johnson will be a good choice. He was Tech's top recruiter during his five seasons under Greenberg. He was the lead recruiter on Robert Brown, C.J. Barksdale, Cadarian Raines and Erick Green. The team, not surprisingly is very excited with the choice.
Erick Green tweeted, Yessss I’ll be back next year and Cadarian Raines added via the often non-sensical social platform, I'm happy as hell right now!! #Hokies.
Much of the rest of the team expressed similar sentiments, so it would appear the bulk of the current players will remain at Tech which was becoming a serious question mark the longer the search for a head coach continued.
Johnson is a Virginia native and played his college ball about an hour away from Blacksburg at Ferrum College.
He knows the area well having been an assistant at Ferrum, Longwood, Hargrave Military Academy, Old Dominion and George Mason just in the Commonwealth alone. There were also stops at College of Charleston, Penn State and Elon.
He has loads of experience as an assistant at schools of various sizes and locations and his local knowledge and connections in the mid-atlantic should help Tech keep recruiting on roughly the same level as under Greenberg.
Speaking of Seth, he had this to say regarding Johnson in last year's basketball media guide:
“JJ is the elder statesman of our staff and is tremendously invested in Virginia Tech basketball. He is one of the elite recruiters in all of college basketball and a terrific on-floor coach. His genuine concern for our student athletes and their development both on and off the court is well documented. He is a head coach waiting to happen.” — Seth Greenberg
Time will tell how things work out for JJ, but given the horrible position the program was put in by the athletic department's timing, this is probably a best case scenario.
Tech simply wasn't going to attract a big name, certainly not the people rumored to be involved. The job is hard to begin with and Jim Weaver just proved what kind of support at a successful hoops coach can expect at Virginia Tech if things turn slightly sour.
To those concerned that Johnson wasn't Tech's top choice, fear not. Seth Greenberg was at least Weaver's fifth choice during the last coaching search (names like Lon Kruger and Jim Baron come to mind). He lucked into something with Seth, and may just do it again.
No thanks to timing.