Saban and O’Leary were a big influence on new coach Collins
Geoff Collins has been named the successor to Paul Johnson as Georgia Tech coach. Things you may not have known about Collins:
This is Collins’ 13th stop since graduating from Western Carolina in 1994. The first 12:
1995: assistant coach at Franklin High School (North Carolina); 1996: linebackers coach at Fordham; 1997-98: defensive coordinator at Albright College; 1999-2001: graduate assistant and then tight ends coach at Georgia Tech; 2002-05: defensive coordinator at Western Carolina; 2006: director of player personnel at Georgia Tech; 2007: director of player personnel at Alabama; 2008-09: linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF; 2010: defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at FIU; 2011-14: linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator, then defensive coordinator at Mississippi State; 2015-16: defensive coordinator, Florida; 2017-18: head coach, Temple.
Worked for Saban
Collins took plenty from his time from working for coach Nick Saban. Lessons he mentioned in an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2017:
“The opponent and scoreboard don’t matter. He talks about that all the time. You have to get better at what you do on a daily basis, doesn’t matter what your role is. Accept personal responsibility for your own self-determination. He says that all the time. And so every day, you come into this building as a player or a coach, you have a responsibility to do your job and to accept that responsibility and to be driven and motivated to do it.”
Familiar alma mater
Collins played collegiately at Western Carolina as an outside linebacker and defensive back 198992. He spent one season as a student assistant in 1993 and graduated in 1994 with a degree in sport management and exercise science.
Another Western Carolina graduate of note? Paul Johnson (class of 1979).
Young for his age
At 47, Collins is the youngest coach since Bill Curry took the job in 1979 at 37, although barely. The four coaches hired immediately before him were not much older. Paul Johnson was 50. Chan Gailey was 49. George O’Leary was 48. Bill Lewis was 51, as was Bobby Ross.
His first job at Tech
At his introductory news conference at Temple in December 2016, Collins paid homage to O’Leary as one of his mentors. O’Leary hired Collins to be a graduate assistant at Tech prior to the 1999 season. Collins had been defensive coordinator at Albright College, a Division III school in Reading, Pa.
Collins said O’Leary taught him toughness, work ethic and attention to detail.
He told a story about how he pestered O’Leary to let him recruit, telling him he could do it. O’Leary gave him permission during Collins’ second year as a GA. Collins said O’Leary told him the coaching staff focused its attention on six primary states, and he could have the other 44.
“And I took that and I ran with it,” Collins said.
With the help of other coaches on staff, Collins said, Tech signed five players in the next class from the states that had been given to him.