Dave Johnson relieved of duties


WEB-Dave Johnson- Bai Yin

The year 2013 was supposed to be the season it all came together for the Clan football team. Despite a promising 2–0 start to the campaign, the team laboured to a 3–7 record; on Tuesday, SFU Athletics announced they were letting head coach Dave Johnson go, as well as members of his coaching staff, including defensive coordinator, James Colzie III.

Johnson spent seven years at the helm of the football program, but struggled to find wins. In those seven seasons, Johnson compiled an 18–46 record overall, including a 12–29 record since joining the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2009.

“After carefully reviewing all aspects of our football program, we have decided it is time to seek a new leader for Clan football that will achieve the goals we have set for the program,” said Milt Richards, SFU’s senior director of athletics and recreation in a press release.

“I want to thank coach Johnson, his family and his entire staff for all of their hard work. We all wish him and his family the best as they begin the next chapter of their life,” he finished.

Looking at wins alone, the move may not come as a complete surprise, but Johnson was a players’ coach who managed to keep the locker room in good spirits despite the on-field struggles. His players, who were informed of his dismissal via email, were shocked, and were vocal in their opinions of the matter.

“Clearly someone isn’t thinking about the program when he fired all the coaches,” said Dylan Roper, a defensive end who finished his Clan career this season. Roper wasn’t alone in his sentiments.

“They fired the whole coaching staff? You gotta be kidding me smfh,” tweeted running back Chris Tolbert, who finished third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in rushing.

In another tweet, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) newcomer of the year added, “Honestly don’t even know the AD [Milt Richards] but he obviously doesn’t care about us or this program either.”

Tolbert, along with quarterback Ryan Stanford, were among a slew of newcomers who were poised to lead the Clan offense that last season led the GNAC. But injuries to Stanford and superstar wide receiver Lemar Durant derailed the Clan’s early season momentum, and Johnson was unable to find a way to get it back as SFU stumbled toward the season’s finish line.

Colzie III, meanwhile, was brought in to fix a defense that had perennially been at the basement of the GNAC rankings. However, the Clan’s defense also stumbled after a hot start, and finished second last in the conference, giving up over 425 yards a game.

Four years removed from their first foray into the NCAA, the Clan was expected to make significant steps forward. They had finally begun to attract star players on both sides of the ball, and were coming off a breakout year where they upset a number of teams. But in a year that had so much promise — and was even highlighted by nine players earning all-conference honours — it was Johnson and his staff’s inability to deliver that, fair or not, ultimately cost them their jobs.