Today let's look at a guy who has come up a lot, but we don’t really know too much about. Navy’s Paul Johnson.
Johnson is a
Johnson's coaching career began when he was offensive coordinator and line coach at his alma mater Avery County (N.C.) High School in 1979-80. He then became offensive coordinator at
In 1983, Johnson came to Division 1-AA
Johnson moved up to Division 1-A when he became the offensive coordinator at the
Johnson had earned his stripes as a coordinator and was ready for a head coaching gig. Proving loyal, he returned to 1-AA
In 1998, Johnson guided the Eagles to a perfect 11-0 regular-season record and the school's sixth NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game appearance before finishing with a 14-1 mark, earning him The Sports Network's Eddie Robinson Award.
In 1999, Johnson brought
In four-plus seasons, Johnson's squads broke or tied 389 individual and team school, conference, playoff or stadium records, ranked in the top 10 in 21 statistical categories and produced 31 All-Americans. The Eagles won an NCAA I-AA record 39-consecutive games at home, breaking their own mark of 38. In addition to Georgia Southern's 62-10 mark, the Eagles scored 2,855 points (39.7 points per game), picked up 25,941 rushing yards (360.3 yards per game), 7,816 passing yards (108.6 yards per game) and 33,757 total yards (468.8 yards per game). GSU scored 380 touchdowns in the Johnson Era, an average of 5.3 per game. The Eagles' scoring margin under Johnson was +21.5 (39.7-18.5).
In 2002, Johnson departed
In 2004, Johnson's team posted Navy's best start in over 30 years, finishing the regular season 9-2 and once again earning a bowl berth, this time in the Emerald Bowl. Johnson coached the Mids to a win over
The 2005 squad recorded a final mark of 8-4, which was highlighted by victories over Army, Air Force, and
Coach Johnson has dominated the Commander in Chief's Trophy competition, going 9-1 (.900) in his five years, with the only loss against another service academy coming at the hands of Air Force in his first season. He is only the second coach in Navy's history to go 5-0 in his first five seasons against Army and his 2006/2007 senior class was the first in Navy history to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy for all four years.
Violations & Personal Issues
Nothing illegal or sordid that I can find. But there is that infamous temper of his.
Just a sample for you…
Reporter: Can I ask you something without making you mad?
Johnson: Maybe. I don't know.
Reporter: I was talking to a Navy fan and he said he follows the coverage and that he noticed something and I'm just going to put it to you. He says that it seems like when Navy loses you blame the players, i.e. we can't execute fundamental plays, but that the success of the team the last four years has been attributed to brilliant coaching. How do you respond to that?
Johnson: Whatever he thinks. I don't go down to McDonald's and start second-guessing his job so he ought to leave me alone.
Is Paul Johnson that good a recruiter or is his system that good? According to Scout.com, he’s not exactly pulling in the athletes, garnering the 117th (2005), 93rd (2006) and118th (2007) best recruiting classes in the nation. Can you blame him for that though…it’s Navy. What Division 1-A caliber kid wants to go play at Navy?
Johnson seems to have made a career out of going to places where recruiting is sparse (Navy,
Much of Johnson's success has been predicated on his triple option flexbone offense, a run oriented attack that has led NCAA DI-A football in rushing yards three of the last four years. Some criticize the triple option as an antiquated, unbalanced system unfit for major college football. Johnson has rebutted this argument asserting that several top teams, including 2005-2006 national champion
However Johnson has also stated that if he had a good throwing quarterback he would utilize the pass more often.
We’ve got one of those!
What's It Gonna Cost?
According to CoachesHotSeat (and what better authority is there?), he’s making a cool million a year, about the same as Robinson. Johnson reportedly received a substantial boost last December in his contract that runs through 2012. Chances are after last year’s courting of Johnson by a number of schools, a decent buyout has been worked into the contract as well.
Would He Take It?
Maybe? Probably not, to be honest. As I noted earlier, Johnson is a
If the NC State job wasn’t good enough to get Johnson to leave Navy, why would the
That said imagine a healthy backfield that includes Delone Carter, Curtis Birnkley and Doug Hogue as well as the arm of Andrew Robinson combined with Johnson’s offensive schemes… If Johnson is looking to give his system a shot with some better talent (no offense to the folks at Navy, just sayin'),
Heck yeah. He’s fiery, he’s an offensive wizard and he’s a proven winner. His recruiting numbers leave a lot to be desired but you can’t argue with the results. If Navy beats Notre Dame on November 3rd, expect Johnson’s name to rocket up the coaching rumor charts once again.
Tomorrow: UConn’s Randy Edsall