Brian Johnson officially becomes an assistant coach for Mississippi State, this week, when the school makes the announcement.
It’s hard to say what his coaching legacy will be at Utah. He was certainly respected by the players. I’m expecting he’ll be a head coach one day. Without injuries to Jordan Wynn and Travis Wilson, Johnson would have looked better than he did, while serving as an offensive coordinator.
Hired as O.C. when he was 25, he was among the youngest coordinators in the country. It was a remarkable opportunity for such a young man. Did he fumble it?
Yes and no.
On one hand, there were the injury problems that he couldn’t control, which hurt his chances to consistently move the ball. On the other hand, he was unable to fully rise above those problems.
When Norm Chow was O.C. at Utah, he streamlined the offense for Jon Hayes and somehow got the Utes into the Sun Bowl — a victory over Georgia Tech.
With Utah’s poor offensive production the last two years, head coach Kyle Whittingham felt he had to do something, so he hired Dave Christensen as his new coordinator. At the same time,Johnson is a smart guy. Not too far from now he will have enough experience to be a head coach.
Johnson’s move to MSU will give him a better situation, even though he has been associated with Utah football since he was 16. As a quarterback he took the Utes to the highest place they have ever been, routing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Fans shouldn’t forget that.
The timing just wasn’t right for that success to repeat while he was Utah’s offensive coordinator. He’ll make a comeback. It just won’t be at his alma mater. Sometimes the story doesn’t come tied up with a bow.