Jackets' new aim: Run up the score

Georgia Tech/Special
Georgia Tech offensive coordinator John Bond took over an offense ranked among the best in the ACC last year, but he will be without Calvin Johnson, who's in the NFL.

ATLANTA - The name is Bond, John Bond, and he hails from Rogers, Ark., the birthplace of Wal-Mart.


So naturally he's long worked undercover and serviced those who live in rural obscurity. But the ironies ends there for Georgia Tech's first-year offensive coordinator.

Bond hates double-Os, because nothing looks worse on a football scoreboard than 00. And he's stirred, not shaken, the drink that is the Yellow Jacket offense since arriving in February.

And as for Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's philosophy of selling name-brand goods at low prices, Bond takes the opposite approach: He runs a no-name offense and wants to drive up costs, at least for opposing defenses.

"I'm buying what he's selling," tailback Tashard Choice said. "This is a stop-us-if-you-can offense and people are going to know about him by the time we're through."

KNOWLEDGEABLE COLLEGE FOOTBALL fans know Bond's work, even if they've never heard of him.

When Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe went from small-school superstar to Heisman Trophy candidate a year ago? That was Bond.

When Army scrapped the option and went to a vertical passing game in 2000? Bond again.

When Illinois State featured one of Division I-AA's highest-scoring offenses and nearly knocked off Georgia Southern - in Statesboro - in the 1999 playoffs? Bond.

"He's paid the price to get where he is," said Bond's father, Gary, who spent 34 years of his coaching career in the same place, Rogers High School. "He's been in places that weren't the greatest in the world. But he's there now, and I think he'll capitalize on it."

Bond better. Georgia Tech fans picked apart their team's offense a year ago, even as the Yellow Jackets ranked among the Atlantic Coast Conference's best statistically and posted the league's best regular-season record, 7-1.

Expectations remain high despite the departure of the greatest player in program history, Calvin Johnson, and a four-year starting quarterback, Reggie Ball. Bond told the fans what they wanted to hear even before overseeing his first practice: "To lead the ACC in scoring is our goal."

FORESIGHT IS AMONG Bond's talents.

He wanted to spend time with his father, so he insisted on attending football practice with him - starting at age 3.

After playing on the junior varsity team and getting talked into coaching at Arkansas, Holtz left the Razorbacks for Minnesota. Ken Hatfield was hired to replace Holtz. Before Hatfield could unpack the family photos to go on his desk, Bond was in his office.

"I made sure I was the first (graduate assistant coach) to show up," he said. "I let him know I wanted to help out on offense."

Bond coached running backs the next two years, learning the intricacies of Hatfield's wishbone offense. When an Arkansas assistant got the Southwest Missouri job in 1986, Bond's real coaching career began.

Bond showed up in almost as many rural outposts as his hometown store, Wal-Mart, did in the next 15 years. From Springfield, Mo., he went to El Paso, Texas. Then to Cleveland, Miss., and Normal, Ill. The Army job took him east to West Point, but he returned to the heartland to coach at Northern Illinois, in Dekalb.

He made a name for himself there via Wolfe, who led the nation in rushing despite opponents scheming to stop him.

"We were a balanced offense, but we certainly angled everything toward opening things up for Garrett," Bond said. "When in doubt, try to get your star the ball and let him make a play for you. That guy can make a coach look good."

Gailey hired Bond for the same reason. Gailey considered re-assuming the play-calling duties after Patrick Nix, who coordinated the offense last season, left Georgia Tech for Miami. But Bond's adaptability impressed him. Bond's coached the wishbone, a spread-passing scheme and a pro-style offense. Bond even refuses to label his "style" of offense.

"I'm kind of suspicious of someone who is known as a 'West Coast guy' or a 'spread guy,'" he said.

"The only secret to what I do is this: Score as many points as you can."


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