Getting To Know Bobby Johnson 1/3/02

Part 2 of 5, Previous Segment | Next Segment

During the 10-minute session devoted to influences, Coach Bobby Johnson took six telephone calls and introduced myself to a member of the former coaching staff. His assistant from Furman, Ted Cain, is watching film of would-be football recruits. Through the distractions, the interview continues.

Coach, away from the football field, talk about a few of the biggest influences on your life?

"My father, Malcolm, who is deceased, was my hero. He could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. He was not college educated, but was very smart, and had several inventions. He could fix a car over the phone - literally listen to it over the phone and tell you what was wrong with it. He built a 25-foot cabin cruiser for himself. He could be anything, but mostly he raised six kids, along with my mother and did a great job.

"He had respect of all the kids. He taught us how to do the right things in life, to work hard, and just be good to other people.

"The other person was my older brother, Johnny, who is also deceased. He was three years older than me. He literally had me under his arm most of his life, letting me tag along and be with him. He really got me started in athletics. He was a great athlete, one of the best Eau Claire ever produced. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have gotten involved in football. He taught me what it was like to be tough, to work hard and never whine, just to get it done somehow.

"I have to mention one more, that being Dick Sheridan who coached at North Carolina State and Furman. He was my junior high basketball coach. He is the one that taught me how to really compete in athletics, how to prepare, to practice, and how to get the most out of your abilities."

Was that junior high basketball team very good?

"We were terrible athletes that formed a good team. We won a lot of games we shouldn't have. He later became my position coach in high school and ended up giving me a job in college football. He was a big, big influence on my life."

You mentioned Coach Sheridan, but are there others who pushed you at the high school level?

"Really, it was Coach Sheridan. He was also my head basketball coach in high school. He taught me the value of going hard every minute and doing the right things. What he taught me is that you can be a good football or basketball player without being a great athlete. I ended up being a fair football player and I wasn't a great athlete."

Was there anyone who mentored you at Clemson?

"That's easy, George MacIntyre, who of course also coached here at Vanderbilt. He was an excellent man and top-notch coach. He helped my playing career. I was a wide receiver coming to Clemson. After I was there, they changed offenses, from throwing the ball a lot to almost a wishbone running attack. George recruited me to be a defensive back. He also talked me into switching positions and was very patient with me. He did a great job of allowing me to make the transition and even though I was making mistakes, he had faith in me. I kept working under his guidance and ended up being a fair defensive back."

Maybe that explains why Coach MacIntyre attended the announcement last week?

"I didn't ask him to come, but I was hoping he was feeling well enough to make the trip. It made me feel great to see him. He is just a very special person."

When you began coaching, did you pattern your techniques after other coaches?

"Of course, it was mostly from all my coaches that I was fortunate enough to play for. I've talked about Coach Sheridan and Coach MacIntyre, but they coached me the way I would want to be coached. They pushed me, but they're weren't abusive. They taught you what to do, and tried to make you as good as you could possibly be. If you listened and did what they said, you were going to be a better football player. That's the way I figured I'd coach if given the opportunity - exactly the way I wanted to be coached. I don't brow-beat players, there's no physical or mental abuse, but we urge them extremely hard. We push them and try to get them better, but it's a positive style of teaching. There's nothing negative about it and it's the way I was coached by those men."

Are there current coaches you watch and learn from?

"Absolutely. X and O wise, you borrow and steal from whoever you can. You see some very smart people coaching today. If you don't stay up, you're going to fall behind and people are going to pass you by. Over the years at Furman, we were able to change and adapt to the type of personnel, whether it was running or passing personnel. You want to be versatile, not be tied down to one thing. You have to do whatever you can to give your team the best chance to win. That's the bottom line."


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