Welcome to the Big Time

Welcome to major college football Paul Johnson.

In the six months since you left Navy for Georgia Tech and the BCS youíve had a half dozen players quit the team because they didnít like your offense, youíve had a top recruit back out of his commitment unexpectedly, the former Jacket legend quarterback you hired to help energize the fan base was busted for DUI, possession of marijuana and hit and run, and now youíve got a player with a rape charge.

Paul Johnson is a great coach and surely knew what he was getting into by leaving Annapolis, but you have to wonder what runs through his head when Heisman runner-up Joe Hamilton gets busted on campus for driving Ė hammered Ė with pot in his car two weeks after he was added to the football staff or a projected starter at corner is arrested for rape and itís splashed all over the front page of the largest newspaper in the South.

You canít win national championships at Navy, but what you deal with there, or at any of the academies, is the opportunity to work with the absolute best young men this country produces. Young men who know something of sacrifice, commitment, duty, honor. Young men who are academically at the top of their class and leaders off the field. Young men who view football as a part of their life which will eventually include much bigger things.

If the quality of any job is a function of the people you work with, then the coaches at the three academies have the best jobs in college football because they surely have the best student-athletes. You may not win a ton of football games, and youíll never find yourself ranked by Rivals on the first Wednesday in February, but you get an opportunity to work with and shape and be around the best and the brightest young men the United States has to offer every day.

Thatís special.

At Georgia Tech, or any BCS school, you have a much higher grade of athlete, but often a much lower grade of person.

Paul Johnson will be seeing a lot more 4.4 40-yard dashes, but a lot fewer 4.0 grade point averages in Atlanta.

It was a tradeoff he knowingly took and it was the right move for him. Heís ambitious, he matters, he loves football and wants to win at the highest level and become wealthy in the process and that wasnít going to happen at Navy, but along with that upside, comes a down.

No one at Navy transfers when a new coach gets hired because they donít like how the offense wonít showcase their skills.

Iím guessing Johnson never took the 2 A.M. phone calls from the cops as head coach of the Midshipmen like he has in just a few months at the helm of the Yellow Jackets informing him of the high profile arrest heíll be reading about in the paper that morning.

Sadly, to win in major college football today means to sacrifice integrity. It is necessary to backslide on your ethical standards to compete in the upper half of the BCS because winning has passed morality in importance. Because of a dozen social, cultural and economic factors beyond anyoneís control, a good percentage of the players recruited by any big-time college football program are bad guys.

You want New Yearís Day bowl games, national TV, seven figure contracts, blue-chip athletes and elite facilities, then get used to entitled players, academic casualties, marijuana arrests, media scrutiny, pressure and phone calls from the sports information director in the middle of the night with news of the latest starter to make acquaintance with police.

Paul Johnson is bright, heís accomplished, heís got a big job ahead of him for which he is well prepared and heís getting a first class introduction to the underside of Big Boy college football.

SEC Ethics
The big lie of the NFL draft.
FSU's schedule sham.
Some players don't get it.
Auburn's recruiting class.
Following the recruiting story.
Urban blight.
Tebow is The Man.
Saban envy.
UGA football should be ashamed of the team celebration.
Tebow's the best of a generation.
SEC fans are the best, and the worst.
Tuberville stays.
Arkansas deserves better than Houston Nutt.
Despite flaws, Jeremy Foley is a great athletic director.
My preseason Top 25.
FSU's monster recruiting class.
Which conference is better? Bowls don't tell us.
The BCS works.
The 2006 All South team.
Florida State is a dead dynasty.
ACC coaches are the worst.
See my preseason Top 25.