Why Johnson May Not Leave Navy - Yet

Is this column wishful thinking? Perhaps, but after listing reasons why Navy head coach Paul Johnson would be tempted by Duke's offer to lead their program, I thought it was only right to list ten of the slightly more than a million reasons why he may decide not to leave Annapolis for Duke, SMU, Georgia Tech or any other school…yet.

1) Each game at Navy is a challenge to win.  Johnson says it all the time: because of the recruiting restrictions at the Academy, each game is a golden opportunity for the Mids opponent to come away with a victory.  This will never change.  As good as Johnson is, Navy will never be considered a juggernaut with superior athletes who are expected to dominate another team.  Even though a quick glance at Johnson during the second half of the Army game last Saturday would lead one to believe that the Carolina native was a bit bored, I'm not buying it.  Winning at Navy can't possibly be boring considering the odds going in to every game.  If it's a challenge he wants, he will always have one, each and every game, at Navy.

2) Piggybacking on #1, if Johnson does leave, few within the Navy football community doubt that he will be able to build such a juggernaut wherever he goes.  And once he does, the challenge to win there (Duke, SMU, Georgia Tech) will never be the same.  If he turns Duke or SMU into a winner, he will get bored beating up on the creampuffs on their schedules.  And if it is a challenge that Johnson continually craves, he would have to move on to another program to get that feeling again. 

3) With money comes more pressure to win.  If Johnson gets a contract in the $2-$3 million range, people (including the media) will expect results.  And with those expectations comes second guessing, a more aggressive media, and probably a lot of other annoying aspects to the coaching profession that have been absent in Annapolis.  A 4-8 Navy team next year may fire up the internet message boards, but nobody would be registering the web site firepauljohnson.com.      

4) I'm sure when North Carolina and Duke get together on the football field it is quite a spectacle.  And that SMU-Rice tussle every year probably gets at least 100 or so fans pumped up.  But who are we kidding, nothing in college football compares to Army/Navy.  Do you really think Johnson would describe coaching in the SMU-TCU game a humbling experience?  Sure coaching is coaching, but don't discount the goose bumps associated with seeing the Navy football team carrying the American flag out on the field before every game.

5) Johnson hates the cold weather, so Navy built him an indoor practice facility, the Wesley Brown Field House, scheduled to open this March.  You would have to think that he would like to walk in this grand structure just once as Navy's head coach.  I would be shocked if either SMU or Duke has a building that compares to it…and if they do, Johnson sure as heck wasn't the reason it was built.

6) Johnson's wife, Susan told me she loves living by the water and that her husband would most likely want to retire near or in the mountains.  Does Dallas even have a lake within 100 miles of the city?  And how about that shore traffic from Raleigh-Durham to the Outer Banks?  The Johnson family could retire in Annapolis – from a geographically pleasing standpoint. 

7) Sort of similar to #3, but worth emphasizing here.  Johnson has never been fired in his career and at Navy, he never would be.  Sure, Johnson will probably win at Duke, Georgia Tech or SMU, but he may just want to have something in his contract at one of those schools that says 8-win seasons are good enough – just in case.

8) I know I have said it before, but winning the Atlantic Coast Conference or even the very patriotically-named Conference USA doesn't merit a trip to the Rose Garden.  There are only two college football teams that get to give their players a tour of the White House each year – the national champions and the winner of the Commander in Chief's Trophy.  I mean what if Senator John McCain is the next President?  How cool would a potential trip to the White House be for the Mids in 2009?  McCain, a Naval Academy graduate, may just let the team spend the night.

9) I hit upon this in my previous column, but I think it should be stated again that Johnson brings with him a fairly abrasive style that is welcomed at a military institution.  I have always thought that anyone who coaches at an academy needs to have an in-your-face type of personality because that's exactly what the future leaders of the military feed off of.  To put it succinctly, it's doubtful that anyone at Navy will ever question Johnson if he tugs on a face mask or two to get a player's attention.  That might not go over so well at Duke.

10) Have you seen GoMids.com's ‘Hands Off our Johnson' shirts?  That alone is reason for Johnson to stay in Annapolis.

Do you have a comment for David?  If so, send him an email. 

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