It’s official. NC State assistant coach James Johnson has resigned.
Keatts now is truly starting with a clean slate as far as assistants go. As we reported, Levi Watkins was added as an assistant after Mike Summey and Roy Roberson were let go in late March. Then they added Kareem Richardson from Clemson (and former Louisville assistant).
Now the Pack will be on the hunt for another assistant (if the role hasn’t already been filled behind the scenes). And I say that because we were aware of this news on Friday morning, the day after Johnson left. So the wheels have been in motion for a replacement now for 4 days.
This is pretty interesting news since Johnson and Keatts had a long history. They were teammates in college at Ferrum University and it was believed that Johnson would be at NC State as long as Keatts was. Obviously, that’s not the case.
Johnson had his shot at head coach when he landed the Virginia Tech job, however, after finishing 12th and 15th in back-to-back seasons he was let go.
There will be a lot of rumors flying around over the next couple of days, so we’ll do our best to report what we find out. We’re told by a good source that Johnson actually did resign after no longer seeing eye to eye with Keatts, however, we’ve also been told he was sort of forced out. Not sure what to beleive at this point, but you can’t help bu see the parallels to the Dave Doeren situation.
After the 2019 football season, where the Pack went 1-7 in conference, Doeren was on the hot seat. However, instead of pushing him out, the University decided to retain him. At the same time, they cleaned house with the assistants.
As you are aware of, this ended up working out for Doeren and the Pack. They finished 4th the next season and 2nd last year, cementing Doeren as the coach of NC State for the foreseeable future.
Will the same thing play out here? We’ll have to wait and see.
That said, as we made calls, there were a few that blamed Keatts for losing Johnson, but more thought it was a good move for the future of the program. We were told that Johnson was a polarizing figure in the program. Some loved him and some felt they couldn’t work with him. The details were all off the record, but if you’re asking us our opinion, this seems like it could be one of those ‘addition by subtraction’ situations.
Stay tuned as we’ll be reporting on who will be taking his spot in the coming week or two.