- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

It took Navy coach Paul Johnson five years and 62 victories at Division I-AA Georgia Southern to get his first shot at being a Division I-A head coach. After nine wins in less than two seasons with the Midshipmen, Johnson is assured of staying at his current level for some time.

Johnson’s contract was extended through the 2009 season yesterday, just four days after he led the Midshipmen to a win over Central Michigan that clinched the team’s first winning season since 1997. He had four years remaining on the six-year deal he signed when he came to Annapolis in 2001. The new deal adds two years and gives Johnson and his staff the stability to continue the rebuilding process.

“It was very important to stabilize quality continuity for the program, and we have assured that through Paul and his staff,” athletic director Chet Gladchuk said yesterday in a statement. “We will only get better each year under his leadership.”

The extension came two days after the Durham-Herald Sun reported Johnson was being pursued by a search committee looking for a coach at Duke. Johnson was sure to be on the short lists of many schools looking for coaches after turning around a program that won just one game in two years before he took over.

“I usually don’t look much past tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I haven’t had time to think about what this means for the future, but what it means today is my staff and I have the stability and security to continue what we started this year.”

The Mids (7-4) will meet Army on Dec.6 and are in the mix for an at-large berth in a bowl game for the first time since 1996. If Navy beats winless Army, the Mids will reach eight wins in a season for just the fourth time in 40 years.

Johnson’s triple-option offense has been prolific this season, averaging a school record and national-best 323.1 rushing yards to go with a school record 433 yards of total offense.

“This year has been fun, as it is every year when you have some success,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to see hard work pay off and this bunch has worked hard.”

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