In the past, I have been rather noncommittal on Paul Johnson.
I like this blog entry:
Dennis Dodd is reporting that SMU is close to hiring Navy HC Paul Johnson to be the Mustangs next head coach.
The announcement of his hiring could come as soon as early next week. Officials at both schools are thought to want to wait until after Saturday's Army-Navy game.
Johnson's name has been tied to nearly every vacant head coaching job in the country over the past three years. He is one of the hot names in coaching circles. If you have a BCS job opening, Paul Johnson is somewhere on your list... period. Hot! Hot! Hot!
In other words, he is everything that SMU is not.
The Ponies have produced nothing but an awful string of losses since the NCAA shut down the Mustangs program. Since 1991, SMU has had just two seasons at or above .500 and have never won more than six games in any season. The Mustangs have had four different coaches in those 17 seasons, but the only constant has been the losses.
So... Paul Johnson... and SMU? You could have given me eleventy billion guesses and I never would have come up with SMU. But -- if this goes through -- it may turn out to be the single greatest hiring in the history of college football.
I have said before, I fear the coach with a gimmicky system. Not that I don't think it will work, just that I think it only works so well. Sooner or later the team tops out and the fan base will start blaming the system for not getting the school "over the hump." Now, if the "hump" is seven or eight wins, I think that will be a nice problem to have.
I don't think anyone can say the guy can't coach. He won two national championships at the IAA level and Navy won one game in the two years before he went there-since that time there have been five consecutive bowls.
I don't think Navy has such a natural advantage because it has a prep school and every walkon has a scholarship, unlike some people, but I do see the benefit of a Prep School, just like I see a benefit to having one high school in a school district where all the junior high schools run the same system (Southlake). Bottom line, you don't go to the Naval Academy unless you are prepared to commit the first five years of your life after college to your Country. That nixes 90% of the high school football players right there, and 99.9% of those that think they have a shot at the NFL, which is about 99.999% percent of them. Do the math.
An interesting question is whether Paul Johnson can recruit. I think it is ludicrous to suggest he can't. He still had to recruit to the Naval Academy and it isn't like you don't recruit to I-AA schools. He was doing something. Further, he was the offensive coordinator at Hawaii; he was recruiting there. And I happen to think a coach with five consecutive bowl games and a former national coach of the year has a certain amount of credibility in recruit's living room. Furthermore, that is what assistants are for.
If there is any concern about Paul Johnson's recruiting, it is his system. Any coach is going to have a hard time recruiting quality offensive players at the QB and receiver positions in flex option/triple option system. This is a real issue and it needs to be recognized going in.
We will know something next week. Be careful what you believe. Just because you read it on the internet or the Dallas Morning News or CBS Sportsline doesn't mean its true. Further, don't necessarily believe the guy you know that knows somebody on the search committee. Two people know what is really happening: Mike Vaught and Steve Orsini. Orsini isn't Copeland. Orsini does things his own way and largely on his own. Members of the basketball coach search committee didn't know SMU had a coach until 4 hours before the press conference.
Anyway, we will know more next week. Though I will admit, I might watch the Army-Navy game with some interest on Saturday.