Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Paul Johnson Files
EDIT: Since writing this post Bill Wagner (the only journalist I trust at this point) has written an excellent blog post updating us on the situation at hand. Block quoting doesn't do justice to the work Mr. Wagner has put into tracking Johnson's movements, so head over to the Capital to get the full story. The short story is though that nothing is a done deal, and there are many factors standing in the way of Johnson leaving at this point.
Every year when I'm doing Q&A's with various blogs, I typically receive a question somewhere along the lines of "How long will Johnson be at Navy," usually followed by something akin to "When do you think he will leave?"
I've never really known how to answer those questions. After all, I've heard the man speak a grand total of one time (at a football camp in 2003) and only been face to face with him once ("uh, can I get your autograph") so how can I accurately judge a man's career aspirations? Unlike other Navy fans, I don't have a compendium of knowledge on his days at Hawaii or Georgia Southern, and aside from the usual message board chatter, I really no very little about the man outside of what I see on Saturday's.
The point is, I can't tell if we're nearing the end of Paul Johnson era at Navy, and unless you've got some actual, no BS-ing around "sources" I don't know if you can tell either. Yes, it is true that Paul Johnson met with his agent Jack Reale on Monday in Atlanta, and it is true that while down there he likely also met with representatives from Duke, SMU, and presumably Georgia Tech. Heck, it might even be true that Georgia Tech has made an offer to Johnson, although I personally would take anything Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline said with a grain of salt. Also within the past 24 hours, we've learned that Duke could be close to offering Johnson, which David A. of GoMids.com writes could be more dangerous for Navy fans then we may think.
So where are we at right now? Well, we're at a junction, obviously, but it's not an unfamiliar one. Coach Johnson entertained offers last year, and for the better part of a week we were being told (quite insistently at times) that our beloved Head Coach would be taking a job somewhere else. After all, with both the UNC and NCST jobs opening up after the 2006 season, it looked as though the born and bred Carolinian in Johnson would have to go fix one of those programs. Fortunately for us however it didn't work out that way, and when it was all said and done we still had our coach. This year, in my mind anyways, seems much to same, and if we've learned anything from last year it's that Paul Johnson's name will be popping up for jobs from now on. We've said it before, but I don't think we've realized it until now; it's part of the territory of having on-the-field success, and it’s something we as fans just need to deal with.
There are people out there (quite a lot actually) who feel it necessary to speculate on the nature of these openings, and to predict where Johnson will go. Aside from not being sure if he will go at all (remember, he *hearts* this job) I feel compelled to point out that just because someone says he's going somewhere doesn't mean he will. If that were the case, Johnson would be in Dallas right now, or at least so says Dennis Dodd. It's a waiting game, but it doesn't need to spent in perpetual anxiety. We'll likely know where the team stands within the next 48 hours, and, with or without Johnson, the team will have to move on and prepare for the Poinsettia Bowl.
I have faith in the program. I have faith in the staff and administration to not sit idle and watch the program sink back to where we were in 2001, and I have faith in the players, who always seem to get overlooked with the discussions of systems and coaches. But most of all, I have faith in Coach Johnson, and faith that he will try to do what’s best for both the program, despite wherever his own career may take him. And that, I think, is enough to keep me back from the edge everyone keeps talking about.