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James William "Jimmy" Johnson (born July 16, 1943) is a former American football coach who currently appears on Fox NFL Sunday, the Fox network's NFL pregame show. He was the first football coach whose teams won both an NCAA Division 1A National Championship and a Super Bowl. In 1993, Johnson wrote Turning The Thing Around: My Life in Football (ghostwritten by Ed Hinton). Johnson currently lives in Islamoradamarker in the Florida Keysmarker where he spends most of his time fishing.

Born in Port Arthur, Texasmarker, Johnson graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School (now Memorial High School) in Port Arthur, where one of his classmates was future rock superstar Janis Joplin, whom Johnson nicknamed "beat weeds."

He went to college at the University of Arkansasmarker and was a member of the 1964 National Championship football team, where he was an all-SWC defensive lineman for Hall of Fame coach Frank Broyles, and a teammate of future Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Other notable teammates were Ken Hatfield, Jim Lindsey, All-American and Ernie Davis Award Winner, Ronnie Caveness, and future Outland Trophy winner Loyd Phillips. Several future great head coaches were assistant coaches for Frank Broyles and the Razorbacks during Johnson's career in Fayetteville: Hayden Fry, future legendary Head Coach at the University of Iowamarker, Johnny Majors, future legendary Head Coach at the University of Tennesseemarker, and most notably Barry Switzer, Hall of Fame coach of the University of Oklahomamarker and the man who replaced Jimmy Johnson as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson was nick-named "Jimmy Jumpup" because he never stayed down on the ground for long during football practices or games as it was said his determination was boundless.

Johnson is one of only two head coaches to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl. The other is Barry Switzer, his college teammate and rival head coach.

Early football career

Johnson began as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech University in 1965 and Picayune Memorial High School in Picayune, Mississippimarker in 1966. In 1967 he was an assistant at Wichita State Universitymarker, then in 1968 and 1969 he served under Johnny Majors at Iowa State Universitymarker in Amesmarker. In 1970 he moved on to another Big 8 school to become a defensive line coach at the University of Oklahomamarker, working alongside future rival Barry Switzer. In 1973, he returned to Arkansas, where he served as defensive coordinator through the 1976 season. Johnson had hopes of being named head coach when Frank Broyles retired, but was passed over for Lou Holtz. Holtz offered to retain Johnson on his staff, but Johnson decided it would be better to move on and amicably parted company with his alma mater. He became an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburghmarker under Jackie Sherrill in 1977 and 1978. His tenure at Pittsburgh was also highlighted by his introduction to a Pitt defensemen and then-assistant coach Dave Wannstedt who eventually teamed up with Johnson again at the University of Miamimarker, the Cowboys and the Dolphins. He coached for five seasons at Oklahoma State Universitymarker from 1979 to 1983 before taking the head coaching job at the University of Miamimarker. Johnson interviewed for the head coaching job at Arkansas when Lou Holtz left following the 1983 season, then later found out that Ken Hatfield had already been hired. Upset that Frank Broyles made no mention of this during the interview, Jimmy distanced himself from his alma mater.

Oklahoma State University

Johnson's tenure at Oklahoma State Universitymarker is noteworthy for his successful rebuilding of an inconsistent program. In his final season he lead the Cowboys to an 8-4 record and a 24-14 victory over 20th ranked Baylormarker in the Blue Bonnet Bowl.

University of Miami

In 1984, Johnson was hired by the University of Miamimarker to replace former coach Howard Schnellenberger, who had won Miami's first national championship in 1983 and departed for the recently formed United States Football League. Johnson's hiring was met with an initial response of "Jimmy Who?" by the fans and media. Johnson started with a shaky 8–5 record his first season, which included a game in which Johnson's Hurricanes blew a 31-0 halftime lead in a loss to Maryland with Frank Reich as its QB and also included a 47–45 loss to Boston Collegemarker immortalized by Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" touchdown pass on the game's final play. But Johnson developed the Hurricanes into a football program came to be known as "The Decade of Dominance." In his five years at Miami, Johnson compiled a 52–9 record, appeared in five New Year's Day bowl games, winning one national championship (1987) and losing one to the Penn State Nittany Lions (1986). l

Johnson's Hurricanes would post the school's first undefeated regular season in 1986, only to lose the National Championship Game that year to #2 Penn Statemarker. The loss, along with losses in Miami's prior two bowl games, began to raise questions about whether Johnson was capable of winning major games. In the ensuing 1987 season, however, the Hurricanes went undefeated in the regular season yet again, and winning the school's second National Title by defeating Johnson's old tormentor Oklahoma for the third season in a row.

Johnson also created controversy by allowing the University of Miami to retire Vinny Testaverde's football jersey number #14, but refusing to retire Bernie Kosar's number #20,even though Kosar played one season for Johnson and led the Hurricanes to the national title (though that didn't come under Johnson). Testaverde played four seasons for Johnson and entered Miami as a redshirt freshman, but lost both times when the Hurricanes played for the title (35–7 to Tennessee in the 1986 Sugar Bowl and 14–10 to Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl). Johnson's reason for not retiring Kosar's number was, "Bernie didn't finish the program here (at Miami)." Kosar graduated with honors a year ahead of his freshman class in 1985 with a dual major in finance and economics (and subsequently entered the NFL's supplemental draft), while Testaverde never graduated, despite attending for five years.

Dallas Cowboys

In 1989, Jerry Jones, the new owner of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, a long-time friend and former University of Arkansasmarker teammate of Johnson's, asked him to be the new head coach, replacing Tom Landry, who had coached the team since its beginning in 1960. Johnson was reunited with former Miami standout Michael Irvin, and in Johnson's first season as coach, the 1989 Cowboys went 1–15. Johnson, however, did not take long to develop the Cowboys into a championship-quality team. Johnson had an ability to find talent in the draft, make savvy trades (namely, the trade of Herschel Walker, which yielded six high draft picks and a number of players from the Minnesota Vikings), and by signing quality players as free agents in the age before the NFL had imposed a salary cap, such as Jay Novacek.

Johnson served as head coach of the Cowboys from 1989 through 1993. He is one of only six men in NFL history—(including Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Mike Shanahan, and Bill Belichick)—to coach consecutive Super Bowl winners, winning Super Bowl XXVII in 1992 and Super Bowl XXVIII in 1993. Although no head coach has won three consecutive Super Bowls, only one head coach has led his teams to three NFL championships on the field (Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers 1965-1967) Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones ruined the chance to achieve history after mutually agreeing to split due largely to their inability to work together. After Lombardi retired from coaching the Packers, Shula, Noll (twice), Shanahan, and Belichick all tried and failed to pull off the "three-peat".

Jones then hired another former teammate at Arkansas, former University of Oklahomamarker head coach Barry Switzer and the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX two seasons after Johnson's departure. Notable members on the team included Johnson holdovers, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Super Bowl XXX MVP Larry Brown. Although Johnson still received a significant amount of credit for that third Super Bowl victory, 33 of his players from the 1993 Super Bowl team were not on the roster in 1995, including 30% of the starting line-ups.

Miami Dolphins

After being a TV analyst with Fox Sports for two years with a brief flirtation with an offer of the head coaching job of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994[41297], Johnson joined the Miami Dolphins in 1996, replacing legendary head coach Don Shula, who retired at the end of the 1995 season. After a below-expectations year for the Dolphins in 1995, capped off by a blowout loss in the playoffs versus the Buffalo Bills, there was a groundswell among Dolphins fans who wanted Shula to step aside in favor of Johnson [41298].

Johnson's tenure in Miami did not live up to expectations. Johnson won fewer games in his first season than Shula had in his final season (8–8 vs. 9–7). Johnson's overall winning percentage at Miami was 55.3% vs. 65.8% for Shula [41299].

Johnson inherited one of the NFL's best offenses, led by Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino, but only a mediocre defense. As a defensive specialist, Johnson expected to put together a championship defense. With complete control over personnel decisions, Johnson and his staff signed several excellent defensive players, drafting future pro bowlers Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Sam Madison, and Patrick Surtain. But Johnson's draft record in Miami was blemished by several high profile first round busts, including running back John Avery and wide receiver Yatil Green.

In January 1999 Johnson resigned as Dolphins head coach, citing burnout. He reversed his decision in one day, after Dan Marino -- with whom Johnson had a strained relationship [41300] -- pleaded with Johnson to come back. Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga also hired in the recently-fired Chicago Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt, a former assistant under Johnson both at the University of Miami and in Dallas, as Defensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach.

In the face of Super Bowl–level expectations, Miami faded down the stretch, and Johnson's relationship with Marino dissolved completely. The Dolphins' final game of the season was an embarrassing 62–7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Playoff Round. Johnson resigned the day after the game and Marino soon thereafter announced his retirement. Johnson was succeeded by Dave Wannstedt.

Head coaching record



Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
DAL 1989 1 15 0 .063 5th in NFC East - - - -
DAL 1990 7 9 0 .438 4th in NFC East - - -
DAL 1991 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Detroit Lions in NFC Divisional Game.
DAL 1992 13 3 0 .813 1st in NFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXVII Champions.
DAL 1993 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXVIII Champions.
DAL Total 44 36 0 .550 7 1 .875
MIA 1996 8 8 0 .500 4th in AFC East - - -
MIA 1997 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Wild-Card Game.
MIA 1998 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1999 9 7 0 .625 3rd in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA Total 36 28 0 .563 2 3 .400
Total 80 64 0 .556 9 4 .692

Post-coaching career

After leaving the Dolphins, Johnson became a TV studio analyst again for Fox Sports, and is currently part of their NFL pregame show. He has been assigned as a studio analyst for Fox's coverage of the Bowl Championship Series in January with Chris Rose as the host, and also pens a column on He is also available for speaking or spokesperson engagements, as evidenced by his appearance in a BetterTrades infomercial in 2007, and his affilation with Proctor and Gamble.

In addition he has made several guest or cameo television appearances:
  • as a bearded prisoner in lockup on the TV series The Shield.
  • as a guest star on the TV Series "Coach" in 1994, an episode entitled "Johnsonwreckers".
  • in the movie The Waterboy next to Bill Cowher.

Personal life

Jimmy was married to Linda Kay Cooper on July 12, 1963, with whom he had two sons. They divorced in January 1990.

On July 18, 1999, he married Rhonda Rookmaker.

Johnson is reputed to have an IQ of 162.

Johnson owns a restaurant named "Three Rings" (after the three championships he's won on both collegiate and professional level), located in Miamimarker, Floridamarker. He previously owned a second restaurant (under the same name) in Oklahoma Citymarker, Oklahomamarker; however, it has since closed. Johnson's fishing boat, which is docked behind his oceanfront home in Islamoradamarker, Floridamarker, is also called "Three Rings".

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