Why Johnson Could Be Tempted By Duke

As of 3 p.m. EST on Monday, December 3, Paul Johnson is still the head football coach at Navy. If I can say that same phrase two weeks from now, it would make for a pretty nice Christmas gift for Navy fans everywhere. In the meantime, I have decided to analyze the Duke coaching opening and the 10 reasons why Johnson could be tempted to bring cheer to Blue Devils fans this holiday season.

1) If Duke only has one candidate in mind for the job, and it's current Navy head coach Paul Johnson that would be a good way for the Blue Devils to start the conversation with him.  To explain, I don't think Johnson would go somewhere because Coach ‘X' and Coach ‘Y ‘turned the job down.  Every point in his career, when his phone rang and the person on the other end said, "We want you," I think he was intent on listening a little closer because he knew it was the first call that person made.  Johnson likes to feel wanted (who doesn't) and Duke can accommodate him in that respect.

2) Duke can't win at football.  Johnson loves a challenge and has said so on many occasions.  It wasn't until people told him that he couldn't win at Navy that he decided it was worth the shot.  Remember, at first, he said "no" to Navy.  Does anybody on this planet believe Duke can be turned into a winner?  Aren't they a basketball school? 

3) Duke won't care what type of offense Johnson decides to employ.  This is important because you better believe that the Michigan's and Georgia Tech's of the world will be happy to tell Johnson what type of offense they think would work.  Duke wouldn't make that mistake.  Duke would give Johnson the keys, the car, and the dealership.     

4) Duke winning six games would be amazing whereas at Georgia Tech or Arkansas, winning seven or eight games would be disappointing.  Johnson knows that scheduling, as much as coaching strategy, plays a big role in whether a team can win one or two more games a season.  Earlier in the season, he referred to the LSU loss to Kentucky a "trap" game.  Moreover, in 2008, Duke can win six games with Johnson at the helm.  James Madison, N.C. State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Navy, yes, Navy instantly become winnable games.  And also, Duke plays Army in 2009 and 2010…a team Johnson knows something about as well.

5) Duke players are probably coachable.  Losing has a way of making kids respond to an authority figure who knows something about winning.  Johnson is abrasive and not shy about getting into the grills of his players.  That style would work in Durham more so than say in Atlanta.  How would Georgia Tech players and fans respond to a coach who would say that his team is "double-freaking awful?"  I am guessing they would blame the coach.

6) Duke is south of Annapolis.  Don't laugh, that's important to Johnson and his family.  They like the South and now that they have the ability to pick and choose where they live, I don't see why they wouldn't remain true to their roots and close to their relatives.  If you think Johnson likes cold weather, see if you can find him outside five minutes after one of the upcoming bowl practices in Annapolis.

7) Duke's roster is full of players who could easily run any style of option offense Johnson decides to employ.  Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and wide receiver Eron Riley have all the potential in the world, and they put it on display in Annapolis this past September.  And to boot, Lewis was only a sophomore this season.

8) Duke has plenty of money and that never hurts especially with reports that SMU is really after Johnson.  Johnson has said that the deal would have to be pretty "special."  Good luck getting him to define the word, "special," but what if he spells the word like this - $pecial?

9) Duke would be a bigger success story than Navy mainly due to the competition.  If Duke emerges as a bowl-team out of the ACC, Johnson will be able to write his ticket anywhere.  True, the big boys like Nebraska and Michigan may not be pounding on his door right now, but if he wins at Duke, they may set up camp outside his house.

10) I know I started every reason with the word "Duke" but I couldn't seem to come up with a way to start this thought the same way.  And that thought is that Johnson surely wouldn't be leaving the Navy cupboard bare.  Navy's offense would be returning at least six starters including its most seasoned quarterback in years in Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, and the defense would be returning at least eight starters.

Ok, that's only 10 reasons.  In my next column, I will outline the 1,003,382 reasons why Coach Johnson will never, ever leave Annapolis. 

Have a comment for David?  Send him an email. 





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