Navy gives Johnson 2 more years

With Mids 7-4, coach rewarded for turnaround

November 27, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Coach Paul Johnson was rewarded with a contract extension yesterday after turning around the moribund Navy football program in less than two years.

Only two days after denying interest in the vacant position at Duke, Johnson agreed to remain at the academy through the 2009 season, giving him two more years on his contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.

After going 2-10 in Johnson's first year, the Midshipmen are 7-4 this fall with only their annual rivalry against winless Army remaining, unless a bowl invitation is extended thereafter.

In the three seasons before 2003, Navy was a combined 3-30.

This marks Navy's first winning season since 1997 and only its third in 20 years.

With Johnson's high-powered triple-option offense, Navy leads the nation in rushing with a school-record 323.1 yards a game and also has set school records for total offense, rushing yards, yards per run, rushing touchdowns, yards per play and total offense per game.

Athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who announced the extension, said: "Paul has delivered a level of professionalism, knowledge and focus to a program that truly needed a jump-start. It was very important to establish quality, continuity."

With a victory over Army on Dec. 6, Navy would win its first Commander in Chief's Trophy since 1981 and possibly play in its first bowl game since 1996.

Gladchuk said: "The timing [for an announcement] was perfect going into the Army game. We have been discussing an expression of appreciation by the academy for some time," rejecting the notion that Johnson's appeal to those searching for a head coach was responsible.

When Johnson was hired, T-shirts emblazoned with the motto "Expect To Win" were distributed at his coming-out party.

He jokingly said after last season that he meant "Expect Two Wins." Jokes are no longer necessary.

"I'm excited about the commitment the Naval Academy has made to the football program and our coaching staff," said Johnson, a candidate for National Coach of the Year honors.

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