Off the Yard: Media Day Diary Part One

It's been over a week since Navy held its Media Day and published storylines from the event have ranged from the inexperienced Navy defense to having a returning starter at quarterback. Don't get me wrong, this is all good stuff. But there wasn't a lot of new insight for fans. Well, enter into the media day equation for the first time and -Presto!- you get something a bit different.

I mean, let's face the facts: this isn't Coach Johnson's first luau and most of the Navy players are well-versed in the company lines of "We have to take it one game at a time," or "It's a team game." 


So, I thought, how could I bring fans something a little different? That's when I dreamed up (borrowed from a close relative) the idea of putting together a second-by-second account of the entire event – a diary/blog hybrid of sorts – full of my thoughts, observations, and well, whatever else came to my mind.    


Monday, July 30th


1:00 p.m.: I depart my "other job" at a never to be revealed worksite in our nation's Capital en route to Navy/Marine Corps Stadium for my first Navy Football Media Day.


1:25 p.m.: I hit Route 50 East and officially begin to accelerate to Reggie Campbell-like quickness thinking that the lanes are open, so why not show off the wheels a bit?


1:45 p.m.: I show my credentials (Yes, West Point I have them) at Gate 5 of Navy/Marine Corps Stadium and enter the parking lot amid basking sunshine.


1:46 p.m.: I meet up with Washington Post writer and contributor Chris Swezey.  We exchange pleasantries as I quickly change into my new polo shirt in the parking lot.  Chris wants a shirt, and honestly, who wouldn't?


1:49 p.m.: I get into the banquet room where the press conference will be held and immediately spot my first Christmas present of the season – A 2007 Navy Media Guide – in a cool spiral binding that won't ever break.  I'm tempted to grab two, but I don't.


1:50 p.m.: I see (but don't test) my second present of the season – Cookies and Diet Coke for the media.  I was still full from pasta at lunch, so I pass…for now.


1:51 p.m.: Navy Super-SID Scott Strasemeier hands me a CD full of player pictures for our use.  This will literally save hours of work.


1:54 p.m.: I find a seat amongst the beat writers for the press conference and pretend to read the Media Guide as I ponder what questions to ask Coach Johnson. 


1:55 p.m.: I dare myself to ask Coach Johnson what he's listening to on his IPOD.


2:03 p.m.: Coach Johnson takes the podium and gives his brief opening statement.


2:04 p.m.: I snap a photo of the coach.


2:04.30 p.m.: I preview the photo – the quality is awful.


2:08 p.m.: Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital asks the first question of the day.  No surprise, it's about the defense.


2:10 p.m.: Ron Snyder of the Baltimore Examiner asks Coach Johnson about the challenging schedule.


2:11 p.m.: Breaking News!  Coach Johnson is worried about Temple.


2:18 p.m.: Coach Johnson throws out the first of what will be several ‘bus' references, saying, "When we get off the bus, the other team isn't going to run for cover." 


2:19 p.m.: I see an opening and ask a question about Navy being good up the middle – like in baseball.  I grade myself at a B+ for the question.


2:20 p.m.: I see an opening for a follow-up so I get in a question about Nate Frazier.


2:21 p.m.: Breaking News! Coach Johnson says Nate Frazier is no Deacon Jones.  A few chuckles can be heard in the audience which I take credit for, since I asked the question that led to them!


2:23 p.m.: Johnson confirms he is scared about Temple.


2:27 p.m.: I ask Coach Johnson about the newest addition to the coaching staff, Justin Davis, whom I had the pleasure of playing golf with a few days earlier.  On a side note, he can hit the ball a mile, and straight, sometimes.


2:28 p.m.: Wagner asks Coach Johnson about rumors about him leaving Navy.


2:28.30 p.m.: I dare myself to ask Coach Johnson to go ‘on the record' by saying he is in Annapolis "for the long haul."


2:29 p.m.: I chicken out and ask Coach Johnson what his high point and low point has been at Annapolis.


2:30 p.m.: Coach Johnson talks about how it was a great summer with workouts and then the press conference ends.


2:30.20 p.m.: Reporters scramble to get one-on-one interviews with Coach Johnson and several players.  I, on the other hand, scramble to get a chocolate chip circle of weakness.


2:31 p.m.: I find Irv Spencer just looking around so I approach him for an interview.


2:35 p.m.: After a few easy questions, I get to the good stuff, asking Spencer who the vocal leader is on defense.  He responds by saying, "Me, of course.  I'm the big mediator.  I'd rather have other teams fall apart instead of us."


2:36 p.m.: I ask Spencer if he was a member of the media, what question he would ask Coach Johnson.  He says he always wanted to know how Coach Johnson is able to adjust so well mid-game to what the defense is doing.  I make a mental note to ask the Coach that very question.  


2:38 p.m.: I notice a colleague has managed to get an interview with AD Chet Gladchuck – damn!  I have about 100 questions for that man…rats.  Maybe he'll stick around for awhile I think.


2:39 p.m.: I see senior center Antron Harper is just begging to talk to someone so I make my way over to him making sure not to stop and grab another one of those cookies.


2:40 p.m.: Harper tells me that he has knowledge of several people who read  If only I had a free magnet or something to give him!  I make a mental note to ask the chain of command to start working on merchandise.


2:41 p.m.: Breaking News!  Harper tells me that he was "nervous" going through spring camp, and I immediately get nervous that he was nervous.


2:41.25 p.m.: Harper confirms that he is no longer nervous about his new position and that when he runs up to the line he no longer has to think about what he's doing and he "just does it."  Phew…


2:43 p.m.: Harper would like to ask Coach Johnson how much free time he had on his hands to come up with his offense.


2:44 p.m.: Harper tells me that the spring may have "opened" sophomore defensive tackle Andy Lark's "eyes to how we compete."  And that "hopefully seeing how hard we work rubbed off on him." Sounds to me a message was sent to Mr. Lark by Mr. Harper.  Sounds to me I need to get an interview with Mr. Lark.


2:46 p.m.: I spot Reggie Campbell looking to talk to someone (probably me I think), so I oblige him with a few quick questions.


2:48 p.m.: Ok, I bombed that interview probably because I have asked Campbell several dozen questions in the past.  He did tell me though that he'll let fellow captain, Jeff Deliz, handle the motivating speeches to the brigade this season.


2:50 p.m.: I look for AD Gladchuck and he is nowhere to be found.   Opportunity lost.  But heck, there's Coach Johnson just wishing I'd ask him a question – opportunity gained!


2:51 p.m.: Coach Johnson tells me that his offense came from a "combination of the run and shoot that Hawaii runs and from the old wishbone teams."  He continues to say that he ran a lot of this stuff when he was in high school.  "We don't have a playbook that we give anybody.  I kind of keep it in my head." 


2:51.20 p.m.: I wonder if my wife would let me hang an 8x10 picture of Coach Johnson in our living room.


2:52.30 p.m.: Coach Johnson says one of his favorite words, "heck," to start a sentence.


2:52.35 p.m.: I wonder what part of speech ‘heck' is.  Is it a noun?


2:54 p.m.: On his ability to adapt, Coach Johnson describes the game as sort of a chess match with "moves and counter-moves."  He then admits that this is "the fun part of the game" for him and that specifically, calling plays is "a lot of fun."


2:55 p.m.: As the interview ends, I wonder to myself if it would be possible to attend a film session with Coach Johnson where he tells me what he was thinking on each play of the game.  I'd guess it would take about 12 hours to get through about half of a game.  Talk about heaven...ok, focus…more players to interview I think to myself.


2:56 p.m.: I'm exhausted but there are still three players whom I haven't interviewed, so I decide to do a three-on-one interview with middle linebacker Clint Sovie, cornerback Ketric Buffin and safety Jeff Deliz.


2:57 p.m.: Sovie admits that Deliz, "likes to talk a lot" and that Spencer is "the emotional, get them up kind of guy" on the team.  Sovie also says that defensive coordinator Buddy Green's physical antics are a perfect compliment to Coach Johnson's one-liners.


2:58 p.m.: I notice that I'm just as big as Ketric Buffin, but I decide not to tell a guy known as a big-time hitter this insignificant observation.  Buffin, oblivious to our similar physical dimensions, tells me that he takes pride in being able to hit hard.


2:59 p.m.: I'm completely out of questions so I ask Jeff Deliz what he thought about Temple's new uniforms.  His answer, "If you look good, you play good."  And with that I stop my recording and race to the bar for a Diet Coke and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.  I'm convinced that they taste like those Otis Spunkmeyer ones.


If you have a comment for David, send him an email.  If you would like to read Part II of his Media Day Diary which will be coming soon, be sure to subscribe for an all-access pass to Top Stories