Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paul Johnson Quotables

When you have absolutely no on-the-field results to use as a basis for where Paul Johson will take Georgia Tech, you think of other ways to draw conclusions. There's his past record, which is a treasure trove for those wanting to feel good about the possibilities............ There's the tidbits we see and hear around spring practice the recruiting-grinder.

For me, another interesting thing to look at is what other people say about the man, his coaching and his personality. With that in mind, I decided to collect Paul Johnson quotables here on this post. I'm not looking for everything. I'm looking for the keepers.... and when I see keepers, I mean quotes about the man from people who's opinion might be interesting. I'm talking directly from his coaching fraternity, coaches who have played against him, players that have played for him, and even his own family. In addition, there are quotes from the man himself.

There is some interesting stuff out there, so with that, I'll break it down into the following categories:

Paul Johnson.......... "This offense is a combination of things I've picked up over the years. It's a little bit of Wisbhone, a little bit of I-formation, a little bit of Veer, a little bit of Run-and-Shoot," Johnson explained. "I've grabbed and took bits and pieces from different sets and gradually evolved it into what we're doing today."

Paul Johnson.........."We've been successful everywhere we've coached with it," said Johnson, who has been coach at Navy and Division I-AA Georgia Southern. "We play the same teams here we played at Navy, or a lot of them. If we don't succeed, I don't think that will be the reason."

Paul Johnson.......... "Navy could run that offense out of it and pass for a "zillion yards," Johnson said. "In fact, this could possibly be the best passing offense ever," he said. "Because when you run the option, it limits what (defenses) can do coverage-wise, and you can get all kinds of one-on-one matchups (against the defense downfield)."

On in-game adjustments............. "I think if you're going to do something, you better know how to fix it when it breaks," Johnson said. "If our offense isn't working for one reason or another, I usually have a pretty good idea why and know how to get it going again."

"We don't have a playbook," Johnson said. "I found that if you have playbooks, they end up on eBay and everywhere else."

“Everywhere I’ve coached, we’ve set attendance records,” Johnson said. “It’s an exciting offense. It’s fun to watch. You don’t know where the ball is all the time. It’s also pretty fast.”

“I think that people have gotten too carried away with the triple-option, because that’s only one phase of the offense,” Johnson said. “If we have 75 plays, we’re not going to run 70 times. There’s a run-and-shoot package. There’s a play-action package. There’s different running plays besides the option. And, certainly, there are all kinds of options — counter option, speed option. We’ve got a sprint-out passing game. We’ve got draws. The key will be to come together with what our personnel here can do best.”

"Bob Stoops has done a great job, but they haven't been near as successful as when Coach (Barry) Switzer was running the option," Johnson said. "Alabama hasn't been near as successful (since it ran the option)," he said. "Auburn hasn't been near as successful. It took Texas forever."

"There's a misnomer that it's 3 yards and a cloud of dust," Johnson said of his unique offense. "Nothing could be further from the truth. That's why I wonder about these schools that jump from one offense to the next. My thing is you try to do something that you know."

“You know what I’ve found? If you win, they like it.”

On being compared to Dodd, Curry, Ross, O'Leary, Gailey.......... “Gosh, I don’t know. I’m probably a little of all of them,” Johnson said, sliding into a smile. “I try to be a teacher, but sometimes you have a lot of intensity if it calls for that, and sometimes it doesn’t require that, and you have to just do what you think needs to be done. Players can tell you [about my personality] better than I can. I don’t know what their perception of me is.”

On recruiting at GT.......... "We have some issues here in recruiting because of the academics," Johnson said. "If we can't recruit such-and-such a kid what are (the recruits) going to say, 'I can't get in at Tech?' They're going to say, 'I don't like that offense,' or 'I don't like the coach,' or 'They didn't do a good job recruiting me.'" ................... "All these rankings are a joke anyway," he said. "We're probably not going to get a receiver who wants to catch 100 balls here. But if catching 100 balls is more important than winning, I don't want him anyway."

When Georgia Tech's leading returning receiver James Johnson said "... we're going to hope that Coach does not do all that much running. We just hope he's saying all that to trick people," Johnson came out firing."He caught 30 balls (actually 25) and they went 7-6," Johnson said. "If something wasn't wrong, if what they were doing was so great, we wouldn't be here. It's not like we're coming in here and dismantling this high-powered machine that was lighting everybody up."

"If I'm at Washington State or Stanford and I'm trying to beat USC, what possesses me to think I can beat them doing the same thing they do," he said. "If I'm at Ole Miss or Vanderbilt or Kentucky, how am I going to beat Florida, LSU, Alabama and Georgia? I'm not going to beat them in recruiting."

Halftime of GT hoops game after being introduced to fans on the court.............. "To Hell with Georgia"

On getting teams to play his Georgia Southern teams.......... "We've called South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia Tech," Johnson said. "Gosh, we've called everybody. We have a hard time getting a game. Georgia has to play us every four years so we'll get them in 2004."

"What I really enjoy is those early games we have," he said. "I like to go home after we're done, take off my shoes, throw on a pair of shorts, get a clicker and watch a zillion games on television. It's just fun to watch them when you don't have to care about wins and losses."

On staying at Navy............. "If I really wanted to leave here, I could have done it a long time ago," Johnson said. "You never say never, and it needs to be the right fit. I haven't had that. These people have been very good to me, and I'm very thankful. Whenever I took a job, I always felt I'd be in that job for the rest of the time I coached. At the same time, if you don't win enough games ... It's always better to be talked about for other jobs than have people talking about who is going to take your job."

AZ State HC Dennis Erickson.............. "Without a doubt," Arizona State's Dennis Erickson said when asked if Johnson could get it done at Georgia Tech. "That's what he knows. He'll recruit to that offense and get better players than he ever had at Navy."

Mark Richt on why he thinks PJ will be successful with the triple option.............. "One, it's proven," Richt said. "Two, the coach is proven, too. He's done nothing but win everywhere he's been."

Article on Bill Belichick........."Bill Belichick is a big fan of Navy Coach Paul Johnson, whose run schemes Belichcik has studied in the off-season."

Wake Forest HC Jim Grobe............ "You just don't see anybody doing that anymore, so (Navy is) very unique … and they do it better than anyone we've ever seen," Grobe said. "Knowing things you'd like to do to stop the option is one thing. But being able to prepare for it in a week, getting the scout team to perform at the same speed of a game, is quite another........ "There are so many problems that go into preparing for this offense that knowing what to do doesn't always do much for you. You've got to be able to practice it, and nobody can do a very good job of that."..................... “Nobody’s played good defense against them,” Grobe said. “That’s not that nobody can play good defense, it’s that Navy’s so good at moving the football. And that puts a lot of pressure on you offensively because you feel like when you get the opportunity to go out there that you have to take care of the ball and make some first downs. When you have opportunities to score, you’d better take advantage of them.............. “This is a Navy offense that is a four-down offense. They’re not afraid to go on fourth down anywhere on the field. It could be on their own 20 coming out. These guys don’t like to punt the football.” ................ "He’s been doing this for a long, long time,” Grobe said of Johnson, whom he has known since he was an assistant at Air Force and Johnson was Hawaii’s offensive coordinator. “He’s been one of those coaches that’s stayed true to his belief. He hasn’t wavered with whatever the latest trend is, he’s stayed with what he knows is successful......... "That’s why they run it so well. Paul knows this offense better than anybody who has ever run it. There’s not anything you can throw at him he hasn’t seen. And they coach it as well as it’s ever been coached. That’s the key."

Washington Head Coach Ty Willingham..................... "This man has run his system for so long he knows every heartbeat," said Willingham, who faced Johnson's Navy teams three times while coaching Notre Dame. "He knows where every shoelace goes through every eyelet. He knows all of that. So, therefore, when you move here, guess what he does? He's already moved there."

Rutgers HC Greg Schiano.............. "It's such a hard job on the inside, people are just nipping at you, and they're always at your feet. It's a nasty game and that's the way Navy likes it. They really try to get you distracted. They cut-block tremendously, probably the best that I've ever seen. You really have to work hard at this stuff.".......... "If you get them down three scores, that's something. One or two scores, they stay in their offense. Again, they're incredible. Fourth down and one or less, past the negative 35 yard line and they're going for it. You're in fourth down territory once they past their 35 yard line, so you have to change your thinking. They are 36-10 over the last 46 games with four straight bowl games. They are doing what they said in the modern day couldn't be done"......................... "I'm thankful that there aren't more [teams] on our schedule that do it. I love the challenge and it is a special week for a defensive coach because it's something different and you get your juices going, but I'd just as soon rather not have to deal with it."

Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak on Navy................ "Nobody, and I mean nobody, stops them from running the football. They are as good on offense as any team I've ever seen.""It is the best offense we have faced by far," said Northern coach Joe Novak. "This is the kind of offense that runs you out of coaching when you are trying to defend it, it's that good."

Former Duke Coach Carl Franks.............."Navy has moved the ball on every team it's played, including N.C. State," Duke coach Carl Franks marveled. "Paul has put together a very dangerous offense that is extremely challenging to face. I don't think you can completely stop that offense, you just have to try and slow it down."

Tulane coach Chris Scelfo............. "I think every team that plays Navy is worried about that spread. It's something you don't see very often, and they execute it so well," Scelfo said. "Paul Johnson is kind of the guru of option football these days. He's running that style of offense better than any other coach in the country."

Navy Assistant Coach Ken Niumatalolo............."This is Paul's offense. He designed it, he tweaked it, he knows it inside and out," said Navy assistant Ken Niumatalolo, who played for Johnson at Hawaii and has assisted him on three different occasions. "Just like Spurrier invented the Fun-and-Gun, Paul invented this version of the spread. Nobody runs it the way he does."........................... "Not many guys know how to make split-second decisions about what plays will work based on what's happening on the field," Niumatalolo said. "Paul is one of the few coaches who can call a game by the seat of his pants.".............................. "He's a very smart man," said assistant head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who quarterbacked at Hawaii under Johnson and has been on his staff for six years. "He thinks fast on his feet, and I believe that's his greatest strength. He's been doing this a long time, and there's nothing he hasn't seen. People try to throw new wrinkles at him, and he adjusts so fast. I don't know if anybody is better at game management."......................... "He's demanding, but always forthright," Niumatalolo said. "He sets the standards high, but he also gives us the time to get refreshed. You're willing to work hard for someone like that. He's very intense and competitive, but low key off the field."

CSU head coach Sonny Lubick ................. "Navy is going to go triple option nearly 70 percent of the game," CSU head coach Sonny Lubick said. "We're really going to have to be geared up to stop them. You might stop them five plays in a row, but all of the sudden, they get the pitch out there and they get a 60-yard play."

Roger Staubach................. "He's done a good job of recruiting (at Navy), and he knows how to use the players he gets," said Navy's most famous player, 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, who later guided the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles. "Paul is a really good X's and O's guy, and his teams are always well prepared. He really knows how to use that system, and he gets the kind of players who can make it work............... "Football is not exactly what the academy is about, but it's important for the spirit there. They like to be proud of the athletic teams. It's a tribute to Paul and his staff that they've brought a lot of excitement back by making Navy very competitive in Division I-A."Staubach will toss the coin when the Midshipmen open the season in Philadelphia against Temple Aug. 31........................ "When you're playing for him you don't realize how great of a football mind he has," said Tracy Ham, who was the Georgia Southern quarterback when Johnson was the offensive coordinator in the ’80s. "When you get older, you see how much knowledge he has. He knows what he wants to do and never leaves anything on the sidelines. And he's one of the great game-day coaches.".............................. "He's special to me," Ham said. "He knows what it takes to get the most out of players. A lot of people fear what he does. And he's still running the same stuff now he was then."

"Good enough is never good enough," Candeto said. "He's never satisfied and is a no-nonsense coach. I remember one March we were out there in 40-degree weather, and he ran us around for an hour and a half yelling at us. He expects everything you've got, and you can't fault the results.".............................. "He can tweak that offense a little to adjust," Candeto said. "He's got an answer for everything it seems. We'd like him to stay at Navy the rest of his career, but they're going to be chasing him for the next few years."

Jahi-Word Daniels early in their first spring with PJ.....“We’re still trying to get to know Coach Johnson, but we already can tell that he’s a no-games coach,” said cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels. “He sticks to the rules. He’s all about doing the right thing, and he wants perfection, and he wants to get the best out of us every time we hit the field. I’m sure we’ll learn more about him as the spring, summer and season goes on. But you can tell right now that he won’t accept anything less than the best from us.”

Navy Senior LB Irv Spencer........"Every time you are around coach, you could hear one of those moments. Coach is honest-to-God, gracious in humor and a great guy to be around. His jokes are hilarious and he keeps it real loose. We have a Facebook group that keeps all the best coach (Paul) Johnson quotes.".................. "Our scheme on offense is hard to stop. It's hard for everyone to stop. Then, we got coach Johnson. No matter how you come out defensively, he might run three or four plays and he'll change the way you block it in the middle of the game. He's the reason why we will win, coach Johnson and our coaches."

Navy LB David Mahoney.............. "I really don't know if we understand what he's saying sometimes," said David Mahoney, a linebacker who graduated last spring and is now a coach at the Naval Academy Preparatory School. "But I know he changed the whole mentality and gained the confidence of the players. Everybody was willing to work to put in the effort he expected."

Navy FB Adam Ballard.............. "We probably run the same play over 3,000 times, and our whole offense is based off of one play," fullback Adam Ballard said. "We rep it every day, so we know what's going on."

A Wake Forest DE on game-prep for Navy............... “It’s probably the most important thing about the game,” Thompson said. “You can’t make any tackles from the ground. They’re really good at cutting players. “We’ve been working pretty much half of camp and about two weeks now on cut-blocking. Florida State cut a lot, but it’s still no comparison to what Navy does.”


PJ on his daughters reaction to his only losing season as a head coach (year 1 at Navy)........... "It was brutal. I never had a year like that anywhere," he said. "My daughter, Kaitlyn, could barely remember 1995 and 1996 [when Johnson was the offensive coordinator at Navy]. All she knew was Georgia Southern, and she thought we were supposed to win every week. After we won the opener, we went 10 games without winning again, and I'd get in the car after a game and she'd be bawling."

Paul's wife Susan................ So what was it that first attracted Susan to Paul? Was it his Southern charm? Perhaps a fancy one-liner he delivered? ............“I guess it was…he’s always had a high opinion of himself. He’s very self confident – very assured of what he was doing. I was attracted to that,” said Susan Johnson. “He was also very handsome and smart.’................... But what about that Southern charm… “Well, he’ll say I chased him and he finally let me catch him.” ..........But surely, there must have been a pretty impressive proposal? .............. “Actually we just had a little spat, and then, he’s like, here [you go] and he handed me an engagement ring. That’s the way he did it.".......................... “I think the thing with Hawaii was Paul was in a position where he was in charge of the offense because Coach Wagner was a defensive guy. So Paul knew he was calling the plays – calling the shots on the offense. That means a lot when you are an assistant coach and somebody isn’t always second guessing,” said Susan Johnson."............................. “I don’t think it was actually until he heard a few people tell him he couldn’t win at Navy that he changed his mind. That and the fact that Kaitlyn wanted to live someplace where it snowed,” joked Susan Johnson.................. On season #1, a rough one for PJ at Navy - After the SMU game, Navy went on to lose its next ten games by almost 200 points combined. Those losses translated into a lot of long days at work for the Navy coaches............. “He and the staff were at the office all the time, even at the peak of dawn on Sundays, but there was really no second guessing about [the decision] to come to Annapolis,” remarked Susan Johnson................. But with one game, the most important game, everything seemed to change overnight...... “When we beat Army [58-12] to end the year, it gave everyone hope. It almost single-handily wiped out the previous ten losses,” noted Susan Johnson................. On his relationships with players - “He is very loyal to them. He’ll take care of them. I see that with the relationships he has with his former players.” But she cautioned, “They are not going to be able to lie their way out of something. The players need to be honest with him because that is what they will get from [Paul].”.................. “He’s very competitive,” said Susan Johnson. “Even when Kaitlyn was younger and they were playing a game, [Paul] would never let her win.”........ “It’s especially difficult to win an argument with him because he has a memory like an elephant. He remembers everything,” she added.................... “He’s very hard on himself. He’ll talk [the loss] through, but he doesn’t really want us to respond. He’ll say, ‘we should’ve done this,’ and if I say something, he’ll say ‘that’s not the way it was,’”............. On her daughter's reaction to losing - “Kaitlyn will cry, she can’t help it,” said her mom. “Fortunately we haven’t lost that much…but that first year [at Navy] she didn’t know how to act.”

Daughter Kaitlyn on PJ's triple option..................... “Dad never likes people to tell him that he can’t do something,” she said. “[When people say to me] this option won’t work in the BCS, I tell them it’s working at Florida and West Virginia.”.................... Wife Susan on staying at Navy or leaving - “The only reason I would want him to do that (leave) is to prove to the naysayer that he can do it. I know that he can, but does he need to prove it to everyone else? I don’t think so,” said Susan Johnson. “[However] if the opportunity presented itself, I think it would have to be considered. You can’t not listen.”

Wife Susan on her cooking................... “[Paul] doesn’t like to eat my cooking – you can quote me on that,” said Susan Johnson. “I’m the take-out queen of Annapolis.”................ On PJ's favorite take-out in Annapolis - “Fajita nachos from Chevy’s – he’ll order the same thing every time,”
............. On superstitions - “We’re a little superstitious…if we win on Friday (against Temple) then I have to go eat with him again [at the same restaurant] the next week. You have to do what you did the week before.”................. “[Paul] comes home for dinner every night now. That wasn’t the case when we first got here. I think it’s really important to him for his coaches to have some family time.”

Paul's daughter Kaitlyn.................... “I’ll DVR the games and re-watch them on Sundays at least once to see what [the commentators] said. I don’t want anyone trashing [my dad].”............. “Dad is very serious when he is grading film…he’ll write something down for every play,” she added. “He’s really focused on what we did well and what we need to do better for next week.”............... “During games, he does impressions really well…he can mimic somebody – even college coaches,” ....................... Kaitlyn continued by saying that her dad “hates it when coaches look at their clipboards.”.............. In response to her daughter’s comment, Susan Johnson quickly interjected, “He doesn’t hate it.” Mom then added, “But he does make a lot of comments during the games.” Her daughter insisted though that “In the NFL they do it a lot and dad will say, ‘there they go, looking at that board again.’”...................... “If we ever lose a game, and its close, he’ll second guess himself and he’ll have to work through it a lot,” said Kaitlyn Johnson.............


From DeepSportsSouth, when evaluating the top proven head coaching prospects (prior to heading to GT)....................... 1. Paul Johnson - Navy - .739 (10 seasons as a HC) - This guy is a no-brainer. He's as safe as the victory formation. Give him the keys and rest easy. (I made this list before last weekend's big win, mind you) Why this guy hasn't been snatched up years ago, I have not a clue. Some folks seem to think it's Paul's "triple option flexbone" that has rundoft potential suitors, but I think that is exactly what makes him a badass.Johnson does what any big-time head coach should do. He evaluates the talent available to him and then he acts/schemes accordingly. If he can't recruit a great passing quarterback, he'll run the option...if one becomes available, then he'll spread the field and pass. Crazy! Johnson, by any measure, appears to be the next great offensive football mind, and unfortunately for you the fan, administrators seem to view him as damaged goods. An autistic, slightly over-weight used-car salesman in sheep's clothing? Naw, sometimes, what you see it what you get: A winner.

Writer Gregg Doyel................. "Navy should never, and I mean ever, beat Notre Dame. Navy isn't as good as it has been under sixth-year head coach Paul Johnson, but Johnson has an excuse. He's been trying to recruit players to the Naval Academy with the country at war. Playing football for Navy today means fighting in a war tomorrow. Playing football for Navy is literally a matter of life and death."....... (Navy did beat Notre Dame in PJ's last season with Navy).