Rumors on future don't faze Johnson

Coach hot topic after triple-OT win against Notre Dame

Navy football

November 08, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

The rumor mill surrounding Navy football coach Paul Johnson's future recently was churning at Nebraska and Southern Methodist. Now that Navy has beaten Notre Dame for the first time in 44 years, even the Gomid shipmen.com Web site is asking pointed questions:

What's left for Johnson to do in Annapolis? How hard will it be to keep Johnson at Navy?

Two weeks ago, fan sites at Nebraska and SMU were suggesting Johnson and his experience at running the triple-option offense would be good fits at those schools.

At the time, Johnson's agent, Jack Reale, declined to comment on the rumors.

"I don't deal with hypotheticals," Reale said. "He's happy at Navy. I know it [speculation] goes on all the time, but it's really not productive."

But the rumors perked up again this week with Nebraska's 76-39 loss to Kansas and Navy's 46-44 triple-overtime win at Notre Dame.

With the win over the Fighting Irish, Johnson has done nearly everything in his six seasons at the academy that a Navy coach can dream of - gone 10-1 vs. Army and Air Force, won five consecutive Commander in Chief's trophies (including at least a share of this year's, thanks to Air Force's victory over Army on Saturday), and gone to four straight bowl games (winning two).

After a practice this week, Johnson was so comfortable in his Navy jacket and knit hat as the cold wind blew in from the Chesapeake Bay that even he was joking about the rumors.

"Where am I going this week?" he asked a gathering of reporters.

When Nebraska and SMU came up, Johnson laughed.

"That's old news," he said. "You need to get to work and come up with something new."

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who watched practice, said such rumors are begun by "people who are desperate for someone to do something" to help their favorite, struggling teams.

"Paul Johnson has the best job in the country," Gladchuk said. "What fans do is speculate on a position in a desperate program. But the fans are the last to know. Any athletic director who has his act together does not share with anyone what he's thinking about his next hire."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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