A friend of mine recently asked what I thought of James Johnson being hired, and I figured I would re-post my email back to him on here. I'll preface by saying I like Coach Johnson and think he has an opportunity to do well with the right staff and the financial backing of the university. His problems, however, are no different than the problems that Greenberg faced at VT. With the added problem of instability late in the recruiting game for the next 2 classes, which is no fault of his own.
Anyway...here goes...the original email simply asked "Do you like the hire"
It really depends on what the mission of the hire is. If the mission was to create continuity within the program to keep the program from a serious backslide, then yes I like the hire. If the goal was to improve in the areas where Greenberg fell short, then it's a very curious hire, as ive not seen anything to suggest that Johnson is much different than Greenberg.
He has never been a head coach, so you don't really know what his philosophy will be. Will he be up tempo? Will he slow it down and play in the half court? Man to man? Zone? Hybrid? Etc. Etc.
Both Johnson and Greenberg are tireless workers on the recruiting front. I don't think VT will take a hit there, but I also don't think it will be taken to the next level either. Unless he brings in a staff with some recruiting skills and deep contacts.
He has a chance to be a great hire if he proves to be skilled with the x's and o's portion of the game. He seems to have the rest of the coaching responsibilities down, and even excels at many of them. So, for me at least, his true grade on how good of a hire this is will come when he starts to show his coaching philosophy. He has worked for three coaches who are all defense oriented, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that trend continue. But your guess is as good as any what offensive product he will put on the floor.
My problem with the hire, is that with an ACC job, being the greatest basketball conference in the nation with Pitt and Syracuse coming over, there isn't very much room for the unknown. When you hire someone with zero previous experience as a head coach, it's a huge unknown. And then when you hire the guy from the staff of the very guy you couldn't wait to fire, it just comes across as desperate.
I guess to sum up, from the standpoint of rating how good of a coach I think James Johnson can be, I think he can be an A- if he handles the x's and o's well...or a C- if he doesn't. So I'll give him a B- at this point.
But from the AD's standpoint, being in the ACC, I would give Jim Weaver a failing grade, or a D at best. It's a curious hire given the prestige of the conference, the reason for the firing of the previous coach, and the claimed "interest" from several big name coaches before Greenberg was even fired. Add to that the timing of the fire and the way he handled it, and he almost sent the program into a tailspin that the next coach couldn't recover from. It's very hard to see anyone giving him anything but a failing grade.