“There’s where I live on the ocean,” he said. “What I spend my time doing is ...”
And Johnson showed the small crowd gathered around him a photo of himself and a 250-pound blue marlin he caught one morning, fishing by himself off the coast of Florida.
“They realize now I’m not coming back,” said Johnson, who went 52-9 and won the 1987 national championship in five years at the University of Miami before leaving to become coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Johnson was part of a class of 17 former players and coaches selected for the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation and announced Tuesday at the Nasdaq stock exchange in Times Square.
“While winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys was rewarding, the most fun I had in football was in college,” Johnson said.
Steve Bartkowski, who played quarterback at California from 1970-72, said the call he received from NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell to let him know that he had been selected to the Hall of Fame caught him totally off guard.
“When Steve called last week to inform me, I thought he had the wrong number,” said Bartkowski, who led the nation in yards passing as a senior and was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons. “It’s absolutely an honor.”
The other coaches to be inducted in December are Phillip Fulmer, who won the first BCS title in 1998 with Tennessee, and R.C. Slocum, the winningest coach in Texas A&M history.
Ty Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for Brigham Young, joined Bartkowksi in a group of 15 players heading to the hall.
The rest of the class includes receiver Art Monk, of Syracuse; tight end Dave Casper, of Notre Dame; tackle Jonathan Ogden, of UCLA; running backs Charles Alexander, of Louisian State University and Otis Armstrong, of Purdue; quarterback Tommy Kramer, of Rice; defensive backs Scott Thomas, of Air Force and Greg Myers, of Colorado State; split end Hal Bedsole, of Southern California; defensive end Gabe Rivera, of Texas Tech; linebacker Mark Simoneau, of Kansas State; and guard John Wooten, of Colorado.
Johnson spent five seasons at Oklahoma State before replacing Howard Schnellenberger at Miami in 1984. He coached two College Football Hall of Famers – defensive tackle Russell Maryland and defensive back Bennie Blades – and at least one more eventual honoree in 1986 Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde.
He left Miami after the 1988 season for the NFL.