False Start

There’s a blog I like to read called Coachspeak. It hasn’t been around long– only a few weeks, actually– but I find myself checking it every day. I’m not particularly drawn to the subject matter, as everything there seems to revolve around Texas A&M. Instead, I just find his approach to be entertaining. This is his “About” page:

I am a former sports writer. I’ve worked for several major newspapers mainly in the South and Southwest. I quit that job after getting disgusted about the emphasis placed on speed over accuracy.

This is my blog to sort out the facts from the rumors regarding the college football world. I will only write about the information I get from sources whose credibility I have relied on for years.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be right every time. But I’ll come closer than most of what you’re reading in today’s newspapers.

Speed valued more than accuracy? Say it ain’t so! Some of the comments on there are kind of funny, chock full of A&M fans with their own “sources” who talk about Steve Spurrier’s move to College Station as a done deal. But the author deflects all that, and had them on the trail of Mike Sherman from the beginning. Along those same lines, while Dennis Dodd wrote of imminent announcements and the pressing concerns of both Navy and SMU officials, Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News applied a higher standard to her work and discovered that:

Navy spokesman Scott Strasemeier said no schools have asked permission to speak with Johnson.

It appears that we have stumbled head-first into just the kind of situation that the Coachspeak author described. Not that we’re out of the woods or anything, but what used to be called news has devolved into nothing more than dressed-up rumors. Navy fans have known for a while that no Navy football news is really news unless it comes from the notebooks of Bill Wagner, Chris Swezey, or any of the other writers that have reported for the Capital, Post, Sun, Times, or Examiner over the years. Yet for some reason, when another Paul Johnson rumor hits the misinformation superhighway, we have a collective seizure. Well, maybe some of you don’t, but I don’t think I’m alone. One would think that we would learn when someone’s crying wolf, but we never really do, even with a job like SMU that doesn’t seem to make any sense on the surface. (I can make a case for SMU, but I’ll save that for later.)

Can you blame us for panicking, though? We all know how much Paul Johnson means to the school. Yes, the school, not just the football team. Winning games is good for USNA. It brings the Navy family together. I’ve never seen 20,000 Navy grads and their families come to Annapolis for any academic or military event, but they’ll travel to all corners of the country to go to a bowl game. Winning gets USNA on TV, which helps the school send its message. Bowl games, the CSTV contract… both are thanks to Paul Johnson. And don’t underestimate what that exposure can do. Boise State saw a 135% increase in online admissions inquiries following their Fiesta Bowl win; their graduate school saw even more. Appalachian State had a 20% increase in applications after its second consecutive I-AA national championship. After their run to the Final Four, George Mason found itself to be a popular stop for high school students and their parents making decisions on which school to attend. Combine the Notre Dame win with a nail-biting overtime victory against Pittsburgh on ESPN, sprinkle in 5 consecutive bowl games, and top it off with every home game being shown on CSTV, and the Naval Academy sends a powerful message of its own. Appalachian State chancellor Kenneth Peacock said it best:

“Athletics is the front porch of your institution,” Peacock said. “Well, people have liked the front porch. They’ve stopped and looked.”

More exposure leads to more applications. More applications create a greater pool of candidates to choose from. Having a larger pool to choose from means that USNA can have even higher admissions standards. Higher standards lead to better Navy and Marine Corps officers. Better officers make the Navy and Marine Corps– indeed, the country– stronger.

Paul Johnson isn’t just a great football coach. He’s great for America.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion that one can make about athletic directors trying to hire Paul Johnson away is that they hate America. And I seriously doubt that Paul Johnson would want to coach at a place where they hate America. Obviously the reports that you hear about Paul Johnson being a candidate at other schools are all lies. LIES. So take a deep breath. We’re going to be OK.

It’s a good thing too, because winning at Navy isn’t something that just any coach can do. Good coaches have come to Annapolis and failed. Elliot Uzelac had 5 winning seasons in 7 years at Western Michigan. George Chaump averaged a little more than 8 wins a year at Marshall. No matter what happened at Navy, these guys were established coaches. They quickly learned that being a good coach is unfortunately not the same as being the right coach in Annapolis. Paul Johnson is the right coach.

7 thoughts on “False Start

  1. 4thDown

    Nice work, this debate is great for the A/N tailgater at dawn tomorrow at the stadium. It’ll keep us all warm in the morning chill.

    BTW, just saw Jeff Deliz walking/hobbling around the Yard (no crutches) Must be bittersweet for him right now, but here’s to a speedy recovery.

  2. 85er

    Joe Gish: Agree on it ruining a great time of the year. But that may be the price of having a great coach at Navy. Every year, some team in the dumps will put PJ on its Christmas wish list.
    The woops & zoomies must love these rumors. Maybe they started one or two of them.

  3. Herbal1990

    “They quickly learned that being a good coach is unfortunately not the same as being the right coach in Annapolis. Paul Johnson is the right coach.”

    Of all the wise words I’ve seen you write here and on the boards, these really hit the mark. PJ is the right coach for the Mids and the right coach for those who know and love what USNA is about. He’s an outstanding professor of leadership, even for those that have long left the Yard.

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