Paul Johnson is 27-9 in his three years as Navy's football coach. Navy won the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy this season, finishing with a 10-2 record. Navy ended its season with a 34-19 victory over New Mexico in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 30. Johnson was also a unanimous selection for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.
Barbara, Baltimore: Congratulations on such a terrific season and congratulations on the Coach of the Year award. Any ideas on who we're likely to see in key positions next year?
Paul Johnson: I try not to single guys out, but the quarterback position is always going to be under a microscope. Lamar Owens is going to be [in] a position similar to [what] Aaron Polanco was this year as a senior. We'll also look at freshmen Damian Satete, Troy Goss and Derrick Bruce, and then there's sophomores Brian Hampton and Eddie Martin. We'll sort it all out in the spring.
John, Portsmouth, N.H.: What is the prospect of playing Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Penn in the near future? If Navy is going to play two Division I-AA opponents, why not have one from the Atlantic 10 and one from the Ivy League? Also, is UNH [University of New Hampshire] in your A-10 opponent mix?
Paul Johnson: I don't know if we play two Division I-AA opponents every year, in fact, I don't think we have any Division I-AA teams on our schedule next year. The schedule is done well in advance, but I think we would probably play against an A-10 team just because of a location standpoint and fan base.
Richard, Locust Grove, Ga.: I'm looking forward to next year when the Navy and Maryland play in Baltimore. Do you think this could become a yearly event?
Paul Johnson: I think it is a one-game-at-a-time thing and we'll see how it goes. I haven't thought much about it prior to finishing this season.
Jim McNeal ('86), Pine Valley, Calif.: Has the success Navy football has had the last two years helped recruiting efforts, and also, has the Iraq situation impacted recruiting like it has at West Point? Thanks for your time.
Paul Johnson: We'll find out. We've changed our recruiting philosophy so it is more quality than quantity. As far as the Iraq conflict, I haven't noticed a difference either way.
Master Sgt. Thomas P. Kromis (USMC), Patuxent River: I assume that your recent success will help your recruiting efforts regarding prospects for the other academies, but how much does it help competing against other mid-majors?
Paul Johnson: Recruiting has always been hard at the academies and it is always going to be that way. We try and sell the experience and the education value you get for a lifetime. You can't change the academics or the commitment required. And there are certain kids who don't want to have anything to do with it. We just try and sell the positives about the program.
Ron, Blacksburg: What are the main changes you have made to turn a losing program into a winning program with essentially the same players? Go Navy, Beat Army!
Paul Johnson: The biggest one has been attitude and not accepting failure. The expectation level has risen tremendously. And I also think a lot has to do with giving the guys a system they can believe in on offense and defense. I think players know that we as a coaching staff are comfortable with the system and can fix things if needed. The players see firsthand if they do things correctly, they can be successful. Therefore, there are no excuses if they are not successful.