Off the Yard: Media Day and Johnsonisms

Off the Yard: Media Day and Johnsonisms

The Off The Yard inbox has been pretty light so I'm assuming fans must have taken their summer vacations the last two weeks. For my ego's sake, that's the story I'm going with. In this edition of OTY, I'll give you the rundown on Navy Media Day, define and share some recently overheard Johnsonisms, and share some yet to be published quotes of note from Navy players.

For those of you not fortunate enough to get to Navy's Media Day/Fan Fest, here are some observations that caught my eye and ear.


"Raising the Bar"


No phrase was used more often amongst players, coaches and fans than this one.  At first glance nobody seems content with just a winning season anymore.  Moreover, six wins gets the Mids to San Diego, but it probably wouldn't be classified as a successful campaign.  And unlike the past few years it seems as though everyone is just fine with this new level of expectations. 


The Overall Mood


If I could sum up the emotions of the attendees in one word apiece it would be as follows: Coaches – prepared; Players – confident; Fans – giddy; Media – content.  Of significance in that group, I believe, is a ‘content' media.  Anyone who works with the media knows that if you can get them past the cranky or frustrated phase, then you are doing a great job.  There was even a sense amongst the beat writers that covering Navy was good work if you could get it.  The fact that there always seems to be high-calorie munchies for the Navy media types definitely doesn't hurt.


Kaipo is a Household Name


Well at least in Annapolis it is.  I guess it is inevitable that the starting quarterback, especially at Navy, would be a fan favorite.  If Kaipo gets into the 1000 yard passing /1000 yard rushing territory this year, he may need to set-up his own rope-line at next year's event. 


The "A" Words


Believe it or not I heard a lot of fans talking about Army at the Navy Fan Fest.  And it pains me to say that the buzz for the Black Knights wasn't very positive.  There were a lot of people talking about how they hoped Army would turn things around but not a lot of confidence that it would happen anytime soon.  There was however a sense that there was a new energy surge coming out of Colorado Springs.  Get your tickets now for the Air Force game – it's going to be another classic.


Who Needs a Conference?


Media Day/Fan Fest is a perfect example of why Navy does not need to join a conference.  To explain, Division I-A football conferences hold media days which its participants send coaches, administrators and a few select players to each year.  Smaller schools, like Navy, would be lucky if they got two or three beat reporters to travel for the event.  On Monday, 15 media outlets covered the opening of the Navy football season.  Add to that the hundreds of fans who were able to interact with the entire team and it keeps getting clearer that not joining a conference makes perfect sense off the field as well as on it.


Fans Love


Since I admitted earlier the emails were a little light, I figured it would be o.k. to do some bragging later on in the column.  I was pretty amazed at how many people (three) recognized me and more importantly how many more acknowledged the logo on my shirt at the Fan Fest.  I think the quality of the chatter on the message boards has a lot to do with the increasing popularity of the site.  So give yourselves a pat on the back, and keep spreading the word to friends who have yet to discover the place to gab about Navy sports.  On that note, I'm always looking for ideas to forward up the chain of command at regarding how to better market the site.  If you have some suggestions, drop me a line at my recently barren email inbox.




I've been holding onto a few Johnsonisms for awhile.  For those of you not familiar with the phrase Johnsonism, the official definition is as follows:


Johnsonism \Jän–sun–iz-um\  n  1: A phrase uttered by Navy football coach Paul Johnson meant to inspire, motivate or encourage a player. 2: A means to ‘push a player's button,' almost always delivered with a Carolinian accent. 3: A saying, which out of context by the casual fan could be taken the wrong way, but in context, is certain to bring a grin to Navy fans everywhere.


Now that you all know what Johnsonism means…here are a few examples of recent ones:


In Spring Ball 2006 someone was injured in practice which attracted several players to stand over him as he laid on the grass in agony.  Coach Johnson walked over and said to the injured player, "Well at least now you know how people will look at your wake."


At another practice, a member of the offensive line sustained what appeared to be a minor injury and Coach Johnson took notice saying, "Somebody get me a rifle, and we'll just shoot him."  Turns out the player was fine and he was practicing moments later. 


A few players also recalled an incident that occurred regarding the voting for the junior varsity's most valuable player.  Supposedly someone put Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell's character from the movie Talladega Nights) on a ballot for the award.  Needless to say, Coach Johnson didn't find it very amusing – according to one player, "He made us do bear crawls for awhile yelling at us, ‘If you ain't first, you're last.'"


Of course as the definition above explains, not all Johnsonisms are funny, like this one Zerbin Singleton hears the coach say frequently. "You either get better or worse.  There is no staying the same."  Perhaps that is where the notion of ‘Raising the Bar' came from. 


Quotes of Note


Here are some other quotes of note that never found their way into my recent story on Midshipmen summer training.


Navy offensive lineman Ben Gabbard on the prospects of having to drop 30 to 40 pounds next spring before commissioning:  


"In the back of my mind I'm kind of excited that I get to be skinny again – well, I was never really skinny.  I'm excited about it."


Gabbard talking about teammate and starting center Antron Harper:


"He plays like a 300-pound lineman all the time."


Senior linebacker Jonathan Alvarado on the mindset of the Navy defense:


"I like to think of us as dirt-baggers, not in a bad sense,

we're effort guys."


Sophomore Rover Jesse Iwuji shared #7 with senior captain Reggie Campbell this spring.  Iwuji's response when I asked him if he thought about asking Campbell for permission to wear #7 in the fall:


"No, I didn't bother."


Coming Attractions


I'll be bringing you more insights from Navy Media Day including questions Navy players had for Coach Johnson – and his answers.  Also look for a story based on my interviews with Air Force's quarterback Shaun Carney and linebacker Drew Fowler.  Both Carney and Fowler weighed-in on the Navy series as well as whether or not they consider this a "make-or-break" season.


As always if you have a comment regarding my column, drop me an email. Recommended Stories