- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Paul Johnson, who has led Georgia Southern to two straight Division I-AA championships and has the Eagles in the running for a third, was hired as Navy's football coach yesterday.
Johnson, a former assistant coach at Navy, will attempt to turn around a team that went 0-10 this season.
He replaces Charlie Weatherbie, who was fired after the Midshipmen lost their first seven games this season. Rick Lantz went 0-3 as interim coach, completing the worst season in the academy's 121-year history.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Johnson said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from Statesboro, Ga. "I see no reason why you can't win at the Naval Academy."
"I don't think they have any illusions about winning the BCS," he said. "There's no reason why they can't win the Commander-in-Chief's trophy and go to a bowl, though. Ultimately, that's the goal."
Johnson started talking with Naval Academy officials shortly after Weatherbie was fired. Johnson decided to leave when he was offered a six-year contract, giving him plenty of time and security for the rebuilding job.
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said the academy has attracted "one of the most accomplished football coaches in the game."
"Paul's incredible background of winning, coupled with the respect he has earned from virtually everyone in the profession, instills credibility and confidence in our ambition to return Navy to the ranks of our nation's elite programs," he said.
Johnson was Navy's offensive coordinator in 1995 and 1996. His spread offense helped the Midshipmen set five school records in 1995, and the following year Navy capped a 9-3 season by defeating California in the Aloha Bowl.
It was Navy's first winning season since 1982 and one of only two winning seasons the Midshipmen had in the last 19 years. In six-plus seasons, Weatherbie had a record of 30-45. The team had lost 17 of 18 games when he was fired.
Johnson has won 62 of 71 games at Georgia Southern. He has led the Eagles to five straight Southern Conference championships and has been named the Division I-AA National Coach of the Year four consecutive times (1997-00).
Johnson brings new hope to a program that has struggled since he left for Georgia Southern after the 1996 season.
"There's no question they've fallen off some since I was there," Johnson said. "It's a big challenge to go in there and build it back up. But there's a point in this profession where you have to think about your family, your future and your finances."
"I look forward to working with the administration and the Brigade to get things turned around," he said. "The administration has made a huge commitment to turn the football program around, and I am looking forward to the challenge."

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