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Looks Like James Johnson At Virginia Tech

It must have been an interesting couple of weeks for James Johnson.

First he leaves Virginia Tech for Clemson and a raise, which A.D. Jim Weaver offers to match. Saying that it's not about the money, Johnson declines.

At best, it's a lateral move, so it's not clear exactly what it was about, although there was speculation that working for Greenberg was just that unpleasant, a thought which was perhaps backed up by a number of other recent staff departures and certainly backed up by columnists who reported that they had had some very intense and occasionally stinging conversations with the former coach.

So he moves to Clemson on Friday the 13th and just a few days later, on Monday the 23rd, Greenberg was unexpectedly fired.

Then, by Monday, April 30th, he was back at Virginia Tech, soon-to-be hired to replace Greenberg (it's being widely reported but hasn't been confirmed yet).

Obviously he's getting a fat raise.  But that aside, if the suggestions that Greenberg's personality drove his assistants away is true, how does Johnson feel about supplanting his alleged antagonist?

To hear what he said after Greenberg was let go, however, not much: he said it was a "huge surprise," and that it had nothing to do with Greenberg, that it was "a James Johnson move."

After he learned that Johnson was in play to return to the Hokies, Clemson's Brad Brownell pulled him off the recruiting trail and shortly afterwards he was hired.

Pretty amazing two weeks really.

So why Johnson and not, say, State's Bobby Lutz, who has head coaching experience?

Well perhaps because a) he's a promising coach who Weaver is familiar with and b) any chance of significant player defection just went out the window. Via Twitter:

Erick Green: "Yessss I’ll be back next year."

Cadarian Raines: "Throwing a party tonight."

Malcolm Delaney: "VTECH hired my guy JJ.. he finally will get his chance."

And Weaver did say, remember, that he would certainly consider hiring an unproven assistant.

By the way, Greenberg, quite understandably, has laid off Twitter lately. He started up again on Monday, answering a supportive tweet from Cadarian Raines, among others. None since however, and no response as of yet to Johnson's ascent. However he did thank him when he left, tweeting "JJ thank you for making a difference. Your passion commitment and friendship will be missed."

And Johnson did have some nice things to say about Greenberg after he was fired.

"He made a mark on that program. He's taken that program from being irrelevant to being one of the top contenders in the ACC year in and year out...He had put a lot of time of energy into the program. I know it's tough for him and the family."

Despite some of the comments in the press, it sounds like they have some mutual respect.

And clearly a lot of people do respect Johnson, including former boss Jim Larranaga, who in 2005 said that "[a]s soon as I spoke to him, I knew he was the person I wanted to hire. I'm a people person, and James' personality … everyone liked him. He immediately made an impact. He worked tirelessly in recruiting."

Still, he's totally unproven as a head coach, and Weaver hasn't been the best judge of talent, having hired Ricky Stokes,who bombed, and then Greenberg, who made the NCAA Tourney once.

Time will tell.