Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paul Johnson

When I was 14 years old I went to the Navy football camp with nothing more then the afterthought that Navy had been very bad for most of my life. I was the smallest kid in the group, and between dropping passes and getting burned in coverage for much of the camp, I wasn't really having that good of a time.

On the second to the last night a guy who I had never heard of addressed the high school players. They said he was Navy's Head Coach, but I have to admit that at the time I didn't even know his name. He spoke in a a typical southern accent, and talked about football, life, and God. When he spoke people listened, even 14 year old kids who could barely make their freshmen high school teams, much less dream of playing Division 1-A football. When he was done, I asked one of the other guys who that was. He looked at me quizzically, and told me it was a man named Paul Johnson.

I left the next day thinking nothing of it, that it must have been just another guy in the line of Navy coaches who fielded bad teams that my Father and I would watch once or twice a year at the stadium. I had no idea that I was only months away from following the team incessantly, and just a few years away from taking that passion and starting a blog.

Five years later I can't help but think back to that moment. I grew up a Navy fan, but I didn't become one until that day in the summer of 2003 when I heard Paul Johnson speak and it clicked, at least as much as it can for a local fan anyway. I will always be a Navy fan, that will not change. Not through coaching changes, not through losing seasons, and not even through being an Army ROTC cadet. But even I can't deny that as we move closer to the inevitable decision, that a very real and tangible experience of my fandom hangs in the balance with it.


Anonymous said...

I am still going to be in denial until the final decision comes down.

Although PJ will certainly have more of a "national presence" at GA Tech that cuts both ways. Navy has treated him well and the goodwill he has established around the campus, with the alumni and NAAA is worth something too. Major programs like GA Tech just chew their coaches up and spit them out if they don't see instant success. I'd had to see that happen to PJ. Not having control over your schedule to the same extent Navy does makes this more of a real possibility. I am sure these are all things that he's considering - he's a smart guy.

Well, whatever happens best of luck to him. He has done an amazing job at Navy and the fans are are gratefull.

Any ideas for his replacement if he leaves? Might as well start the speculation now!

Anonymous said...

Might also be worth noting that last year Gailey won the ACC division with a 7-1 record and 9 wins overall. He's taken the team to a bowl game every year he's been there. This year, 7-5 was considered an "off" year and he got canned.

Doesn't sound like an easy place to coach or a place with much patience for coaches either.

Adam said...

Coach N would likely be the replacement.

Chan Gailey has been 7-5 seemingly every year. I belive Orson Swindle of coined the phrase "Chan Gailey Equilibrium" in reference to it...

Justin said...

I am going to go out on a limb and say that we should look for Tim Stowers (former Rhode Island HC) or possibly Mike Ayers (Wofford HC).

However, I don't even want to think about that until I know for sure.

Mike said...

Good God not Tim Stowers.

I'm not convinced that PJ's gone, but I really think that Niumat is the best choice if he leaves.

Anonymous said...

I like Coach Niumatalolo as a choice because he will maintain the momentum and continuity of the program. He deserves a chance but I also have reservations about an assistant with no real head coaching experience. Still, I am hoping it is either him or a good, seasoned Div. 1-AA coach.