News & Politics

Best of 2005: Coach of the Year

Navy football's Paul Johnson wins our vote

Washington has lots of good coaches. On the college level, the University of Maryland's Gary Williams, George Washington's Karl Hobbs, and Georgetown's John Thompson III are among the nation's best in basketball, and Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen has had good years. But none has a tougher job, or accomplishes more, than Navy football's Paul Johnson.

It's not easy getting top high-school players to commit to the Naval Academy's discipline and academics–plus the service obligation after graduation. In 2002, Johnson took over a program that had lost 20 of its last 21 games. He turned it around, going 10-2 last year.

Those who know him call him an innovative coach and an honest, forthright man. Johnson's Navy team beat Air Force 27-24 in October. Look for Navy to win December 3 against Army, once again claiming the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and showing that Johnson is as good a coach as there is in college football.

Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.