Wagner: Can I ask you something without making you mad?
Johnson: Maybe. I don't know.
Wagner: 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, ie 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.
Wagner: But do you feel like it can't be both ways?
Johnson: You know what? I could care less. I'm old enough where I could give a crap what the fans think or what you think to put it in a nutshell.
Wagner: Wins and losses are evenly distributed as far as credit and blame, right?
Johnson: If you could ever find one time that I said we won the game because of brilliant strategy I will kiss your butt at city dock and give you two days to draw a crowd. Find it and bring it to me. Tell that guy that if he wants to talk to me I live at (address given but deleted for the transcript) I will be right there. Come ring my doorbell and I will be glad to talk to him.
For those of you thinking I'm going to laud Coach Johnson for another fine and witty response, well, I'm not going to. Johnson has made quotes like this in the past but this is one of the few times I can remember that he seemed to get really defensive about the whole notion of how he does his job. It's not without reason, but in a way it seems to speak to where the team, and the program, are after last week's loss.
As for the question itself, I think the fan probably misinterpreted Paul Johnson's response after games. I think what he/she meant to say was that it seems like Johnson is not overly positive after a win in regards to praising individual players, and seems to come down on the whole lot after a loss. This is a much more accurate depiction of the post game scenario than the idea that Coach Johnson sits around and says that everyone sucks and he's the only thing going for the team. In fact, I would argue that's what a number of Navy fans do (myself NOT included.) The question at this point is irrelevant, and for the moment I'd like to address the reaciton to "the question" by Navy fans.
I think this blaming Bill Wagner stuff is nonsense. I've seen a number of Navy fans question why a veteran like Wagner would incur the wraith of Coach Johnson, to which I only say, "why not?" News flash, the guy is a reporter, he's not the Sports Information Director. I know we have a very supportive local media contingent, but what do you expect him to do, just go with the flow and be Paul Johnson's yes man? It doesn't matter if you think it was a stupid question, the point was that it elicited a response, and had it not been asked we wouldn't be sitting here talking about it. As Mr. Wagner said in a followup blog post, if the team is underperforming it's his job as a reporter to try to understand why that is. In hindsight, yes, he probably should not have asked that particular question, but that doesn't mean he should never ask a question not dissimilar to the one he asked. After all, it is his job.
Paul Johnson is who he is. He's an excellent coach and has a personality some people like and others don't. I guess the point I'm trying to get at here is that you can be someone who is uncomfortable with his personality without claiming that he's not doing a good job with the program. You should, as a fan, be able to say "I don't like the way Coach handled that question" without people accusing you of not understanding Navy football or Coach Johnson. Just so long as you recognize how successful Navy has been under Johnson and how he is the foundation for that success, you should be able to think whatever you want about his personality. And now, back to our regularly scheduled "what the hell is wrong with our defense" coverage.