Johnson, who attended the festivities with his wife, Catherine, was expected to receive the award from AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff. Johnson and four other coaches - Larry Coker of Miami, Ralph Friedgen of Maryland, Dale Lennon of North Dakota and Larry Kehres of Mount Union - were scheduled to be honored at the event.
"This is a tremendous honor and one that was made possible by the players and coaches at Furman for whom I will always be thankful," Johnson said prior to the banquet.
The award is Johnson's first national coach of the year honor, though he is a three-time recipient of the AFCA Region II Coach of the Year Award. Johnson was 60-36 (.625) in eight seasons at Furman. He led the Paladins to four NCAA I-AA playoff berths and captured Southern Conference championships in 1999 and 2001.
A Columbia, South Carolina native, Johnson graduated from Clemson in 1973 and accepted his first coaching position in 1976 as the defensive backs coach at Furman. He served 16 years as a Furman assistant, including eight as defensive coordinator, before leaving to become defensive coordinator at Clemson. He was named head coach at Furman after one year at Clemson.
Johnson was selected by a vote of active AFCA I-AA coaches. The award, which dates to 1935, is the only one chosen solely by fellow coaches.