Getting To Know Bobby Johnson
Part 2 of 5, Previous
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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
"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
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."