Johnson says Mids need reality about schedule

Goal is to mix in games with teams at Navy's level

Navy notebook

October 23, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

When Paul Johnson accepted the job as Navy's head coach, he stressed that there were three things the Academy needed to focus on if it was going to turn around the football program: recruiting, commitment and scheduling.

Johnson and his staff have hit the recruiting trail hard this year, and Johnson has repeatedly said he is pleased with the renewed commitment the administration has made to the football program. But with losses to North Carolina State and Boston College this season, and No. 6 Notre Dame on the horizon after this week's game against Tulane, Johnson said the next step Navy needs to take is to be realistic when setting its schedule.

"To me, I think there's a point where you face reality," Johnson said. "For us to play Notre Dame and Boston College and N.C. State every year, how are you going to have a successful season if you schedule yourself six losses before you start? ... You don't schedule six games where you're 29-point underdogs. If you do that and you play a 12-game schedule and you split the other six games, then your record becomes 3-9."

Johnson doesn't want to do away with Navy's annual game against Notre Dame, but he said mixing in some games against Division I schools that are closer to the Mids' talent level (including the occasional game against a I-AA school) would benefit the program tremendously.

"If you go back historically and you look at Navy's schedule, they've always played one or two of those [I-AA] teams," Johnson said. "Charlie [Weatherbie] decided he didn't want to play any more because he wanted a bowl schedule and that's when they dropped them. My take on that is let's see if we can't build a program before we worry about something that happens once every 20 years."

Navy is in the middle of a 10-year contract with Boston College, which defeated the Mids, 46-21, Saturday. In 2004, the Mids will again play N.C. State (which beat them, 65-19, this year), and in 2005, they'll take on Stanford, Boston College, Notre Dame and TCU.

By contrast, Johnson pointed out, Army is playing a Conference USA schedule this season that includes Buffalo, East Carolina, Memphis, Cincinnati and Alabama-Birmingham.

"Once you start to win some games you can build your program back up," Johnson said. "But which comes first, the horse or the cart? It's hard to build the program up if you keep getting beat every Saturday."

BC's O'Brien apologizes

Johnson said Boston College coach Tom O'Brien -- a 1971 graduate of the Naval Academy -- apologized for comments he made to the media about Navy.

O'Brien was upset Navy didn't play defense in a 4-3 alignment, which is what the Mids listed on their weekly release.

"I mean, you expect them to tell you who's going to play and who's not; that's common courtesy," O'Brien told The Boston Globe. "I guess the honor concept [at Navy] doesn't apply to the coaches."

O'Brien also said he didn't like Navy's option offense because Boston College players had been injured trying to defend it in the past.

"I called him and he apologized," Johnson said. "He said he was out of line. I mean short of sending him practice tapes, I don't know what he wants. ... As far as the other comments about our offense, if I gave up 480 yards with that team I would be embarrassed, too."

Next for Navy

Opponent:Tulane

Site:Tad Gormley Stadium, New Orleans

When:Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Radio:WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (1300 AM)

Line:Tulane by 15 1/2

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