Whit Babcock releases James Johnson

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Virginia Tech is in the market for a new basketball coach yet again.  James Johnson was relieved of his duties as Tech’s head coach, per a press release on Monday afternoon.

“I want to thank Coach Johnson for his dedication and hard work for our university and our basketball program over the past seven years,” athletic director Whit Babcock said. “A change of this significance affects many people and is never taken lightly, but I felt a change and a new direction was necessary for the long term, best interest of our department.”

Johnson served as Tech’s head coach for just two seasons, going 22-41.  After a 7-0 start in his first season, he was just 15-41 for the remainder of his career.  He compiled a record of 6-30 in ACC play.

Babcock will begin a national search for a new coach immediately, and he will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning at 9:30.  Stay tuned to TSL for more coverage.

What are fellow Hokie fans saying about the news? Join the conversation on our TSL basketball message board, and we’ll be bringing you info on our subscribers-only board throughout the coaching search.

hokiesports.com press release

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70 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Got to interact with JJ a here and there when he was the assistant. Great guy and I feel for him that it didn’t work out. Thank you for the effort and best of luck on your next venture, hopefully you’ve left a great foundation for the next candidate. Go Hokies

  2. This was a no brainer. Good luck to JJ in life, but he was a terrible basketball coach at Virginia Tech.

  3. Good move Whit!!! This was a must decision. If VT is to ever compete in the toughest conference in the nation, we must hire a “known successful coach”. Without this, we might as well close the doors of the Cassell!! Every college in the ACC is beefing up ALL their programs with top coaches and top recruits. Do we want to let UVA be the “master” of Virginia and get all of the top recruits in basketball as they did this year in football? Well, our coaching staffs must be focused on winning in all sports.

  4. I hope that all this “joy” is not misplaced and that a new coach will be able to establish a successful BB program. I do believe that the players the new coach will inherit from JJ’s recruiting efforts will be one of his greatest assets.

  5. Good decisions, bad decisions, multiple spins; when all is said and done, there will be more said than done. It’s really quite simple: hire a winner and fund him. WB will do that.

  6. This is a happy day for Hokie Nation!! Tech hasn’t had a big time BB coach ever. The closest was Seth Greenberg and we ran him out of town (will never know why). He won more BIG games than any other coach. Now is the time to finally JOIN the ACC in basketball with a top shelf coach.

    1. He was “run out of town” because he was an arrogant jerk who treated his players, staff and fans much the same!!

      1. Agree that Seth was a complete pain in the rear – but he did a great job while here. He loos better in the rear view mirror than through the windshield.

    2. Don’t start celebrating until you see who WB hires first. I have confidence he will make a good hire. But you should save your joy for a hiring and not a firing.

    3. The closest to a bigtime coach was Seth Greenberg? He was 167-117 in eight seasons with one NCAA Tournament appearance and 5 NIT appearances (winning none, got to the 2nd round 3 times, quarterfinals twice). Bill Foster was 101-78 in 6 seasons and won the NIT once and make the NCAA Tournament; he was also the head coach at Miami and Clemson, making it to the Elite 8 while at Clemson. Charlie Moir went 213-119, made the NCAA 4 times (when fewer teams were invited) and the NIT 4 times. He made it to the NIT semis 3 of those four times, losing in the title game once and finishing 3rd another. Don DeVoe went 88-45 in 5 years and won the NIT and made the NCAAs. He also coached at Tennessee, Florida and Navy.

      Seth was a good man. But when you compare his records to those before him, I’m not sure you can make the case that he was the closest thing VT had to a bigtime coach.

    1. And he also has good judgment. The only way to solve the problem of empty seats in Cassell was to make a change. Feel sorry for JJ, but Babcock had no other choice.

    2. Whit needs to go all out make a huge splash, not only for his name, but for the university! Let’s Goooo and don’t srew it up!!
      1. Shaka Smart
      2. Mick Cronin
      3. Gregg Marshall
      4. Tommy Amaker
      5. Mike Lonergan
      6. Archie Miller
      7. Monte Ross
      8. Steve Lavin
      9. Someone off Duke’s staff
      10. Give me a better Name!

      1. Dell Curry. One of us with name recognition and plenty of basketball knowledge and connections

        1. We should hire someone without any coaching experience? I thought the idea was to get someone who has head coaching experience.

        2. Dell was great but he has never coached. Could end up like Sidney Lowe at NC State. We need experience.

      2. Shaka & Marshall are non starters. Illonois offered Smart the moon and he wouldn’t even respond. Marshall was recently asked about Wake Forest and said ” it would take a Brinks Truck” He is currently making $2 mil.

    1. Yes. Really hope he excels and can use his experience elsewhere to gain traction. The whole situation has sucked any way you look at it.

      Let’s hope….this time….we will be able to hit the reset button. The fact of the matter is no matter who comes in…they will need time to turn the program around….I hope the fanbase has the patience.

  7. Glad to see that Whit Babcock stepped up and has made the statement that Hokie Basketball matters. Worried we wouldn’t do it, glad we did. Who is next?

  8. Shaka Smart for whatever it costs would be the fastest turnaround. He wins pure and simiple, players love him, he’s in state, and going to the ACC or similar has to happen for him eventually give the amount we and others can pay him.

      1. VT basketball coach should be making over a million.
        Horse – cart? chicken – egg?
        Very rare to find “lightning in a bottle” like we did with Beamer.
        Not that Beamer took us immediately to another level, nor that the right BB coach will take us immediately to another level, but we have to have “the man” to draw in the talent to give him a chance to succeed.

        Kind of like “dress for success”.

    1. I don’t like our odds.

      He already turned down UCLA which was an infinitely better job.

      I just hope we hire a proven head coach with at track record this time. IMO ACC schools (in theory) shouldn’t have to hire assistants.

      1. Shaka is just an example of the kind of coach we should be looking for, not the first and only guy on the list.

    2. He would be a fool to leave VCU for VT. He will laugh at any suggestion that he is a candidate.

    3. Won’t happen.
      IMHO shouldn’t happen.

      BUT….there is world of opportunities for a resurrection of the program. It will be nice to have a real search with a new man at the top.

      We will see in a hurry what we have in WB.

  9. This is a fantastic opportunity for a coach to compete in ACC basketball and take over a team which finished last for three straight years. No where to go but up. This should be an attractive job and should attract quality coaching candidates. Go Hokies! Best in the future to Coach Johnson.

    1. That is truly a spin…making a negative into a positive. “We are an attractive opportunity for the very bast coaches. We are used to last place so you cannot fail anymore than we already have.”

  10. Thanks to JJ for the hard work. Really good man and a tireless worker. I wish him much success in the future and hope that his next head job is one that gives him a chance.

    1. I agree. JJ never had a chance. But he never should have been put in that situation to begin with. You can blame JW for that. I wish JJ the best of luck. He gave VT his all.

  11. Thank you Whit Babcock. There is new leadership at Tech in the Athletic Department and replacing someone is never easy but this is a business and I’m sure Mr. Babcock made a business decision. The Hokie Nation appreciates this tough decision and I think we can all agree the time is NOW for us to invest in a bb program that can become competitive in the ACC. There is HOPE for the Hokie Nation and I for one am thankful for this decision and making it now instead of a year down the road.

    1. You’re right Rockie. WB stepped up and now it’s time for us to do so. For those of us that are currently not Hokie Club members, let’s join. Here we go.
      LET’s GO……….. HOKIES !

  12. Chris, I bet the search has been On going for a couple weeks. And a list is very narrow. What’s your take ?

      1. A good source list or a good guess list ? Either way, it will be interesting. You guys been waiting today 🙂 , I have too…

  13. Too many fans equate money with results , how has that worked for UVA with London at over $2 million per year. Shaka Smart seems to be doing a pretty good job at $1 million +.

  14. Now, once and for all let’s make a splash and hire a name. Perhaps someone who at least has a record of winning. Let’s pony up to the big boy table and get this ship on course. If we want to stay on the cheap let’s shutter the doors and windows and start a hockey team instead.

    1. Personally, I’d be all for DI hockey at VT. Do you think they’d let us in on the Bean Pot?

      1. I bet a lot of people would pony up, but this is a “show me” business. Lay out the vision, make the investment, and people will invest in this program. It shouldn’t have to be the other way around.

        1. EXACTLY! That’s how the world works in ANY business. We don’t pay companies to build products ahead of time- we invest in quality programs, with a solid plan and vision.

          1. I’d point out that a lot of things in “ANY business” are funded on potential. Return on investment is made in advance of an idea being a sure thing. Of course, that’s where money is lost also.
            If you’re waiting to see some measure of a “quality” program, you already missed the point where the progress began, which was this decision. I think it was a great one, and will donate accordingly.

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