Mission Viejo (Calif.) High football coach Bob Johnson is about as close to a living legend as you can get in high school football. The Diablos head man has been at the helm of one of California's top programs for 12 years -- part of 42 years he's spent in the profession all told -- leading the program to three California Interscholastic Federation sectional titles and a whopping 10 league titles.
In that time, he also emerged as a key developmental figure for scores of young quarterbacks, formerly helping Nike develop its famed Elite 11 quarterback camp and molding NFL stars at his own school, his son Rob Johnson (the former Bills, Buccaneers and and Jaguars player) and current Jets signal caller Mark Sanchez among them.
Evidently, he also developed quite a disdain for the press during those years as well. That was made evident during a line of questioning sent his way after a tough loss on Friday.
Following the final moments of a 10-7 loss to Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High, Orange County Register sports reporter Carlos Arias asked Johnson about two questionable fourth-down decisions during the game. Specifically, on the game's final play, the Diablos went for the win with a failed Hail Mary attempt rather than try a 44-yard field goal which could have forced overtime. The team made a similar decision earlier in the game, as well.
When Arias posed those quite legitimate questions, he was more than rebuffed.
"I'm not going to answer any of your questions," Johnson told Arias. "Didn't you hear me, I said don't ask any more of your questions until you've coached for more than 42 years."
Wow. There are diva responses, and then there is "don't ask any more of your questions until you've coached for more than 42 years."
Needless to say, Johnson's restrictions ensure that practically no high school sports reporter in the country can ask him any questions. It's a standard that makes Manchester United soccer manager Sir Alex Ferguson -- who has turned media blackouts into a bizarre form of performance art -- seem outgoing and flexible.
Of course, coaches always have a tendency to react emotionally after a tough loss, and Mission Viejo's setback on Friday was certainly a hard setback to take. Still, these men are paid to maintain some level of official decorum with the media.
It's unknown whether Johnson will maintain that preposterously tough stance after the Diablos face off at Dana Hills on Friday. Maybe he will send one of his associate head coaches, his sons Rob and Bret, in his place.
Either way, it goes without saying that he could use a little more flexibility and understanding with the media. If nothing else, it might ensure he isn't so readily compared to Darth Vader, as he was in the Register following his most recent post-loss diatribe.