Curtis Johnson changing culture from within Tulane football program

Curtis Johnson changing culture from within Tulane football program

Credit: AP

Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson, right, introduces New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson as Tulane's new football coach, in New Orleans on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

THIBODAUX, La. – Ryan Griffin has a simple explanation for why, suddenly, Tulane is beginning to make noise in recruiting.

It has everything to do with first-year head coach Curtis Johnson.

But it has nothing to do with Johnson’s coaching background, including time with the Saints during their Super Bowl run or Miami during one of the national championship runs.

“I’m pretty sure he’s related to every person in the city in some way, shape or form,” Griffin said. “He doesn’t even need the Saints or Miami thing, especially when it comes to recruiting. He knows everybody so he’s getting everyone involved and he has everyone there.

Griffin, a redshirt senior, understands the differences Johnson is making. The team’s starting quarterback for the past two seasons has seen a difference in his teammates' motivation level already.

“He has been amazing,” Griffin said. “He’s out there with us every morning whenever we’re working out. He’ll be out there at 6 in the morning in his workout gear. He’ll be busting his butt and he’s doing bleachers, doing ladders, doing all the drills that we’re doing. Yelling at us, saying he’s doing better than us.

“He’s really motivating everybody. He’s really the center of the buzz that’s surrounding our program right now.”

The Tulane quarterback spoke while at the Manning Passing Academy. Though he doesn’t get the national recognition that fellow academy counselors Zach Mettenberger, A.J. McCarron or Matt Barkley receive, he’s not worried about that.

His only goal right now is to help turn around a Green Wave program that has lingered in mediocrity for the better part of the past decade.

And he thinks Johnson is the guy who can make it happen.

“Some guys won’t buy in and C.J. isn’t afraid to get rid of them,” Griffin said. “He already has gotten rid of a few. He has the program going in the right direction and everyone is buying in because we believe in him.”

The biggest thing thus far, according to Griffin, is the accountability Johnson has brought into the program.

No more can players slide by not studying the playbook. Not with Johnson in charge.

“In the past, guys, they could get away with not studying their playbook after practice,” Griffin said. “We’re running the Saints offense so you literally have to be in your playbook every night before practice. If you’re not, it reflects on the field. You won’t line up correctly. You won’t run the right route. That’s how he knows that people aren’t doing what they should be doing.”

Despite the youth movement Johnson is likely going with in his first year, he’s still relying on veteran leadership and Griffin is one of the main ones Johnson is turning to.

Griffin is accepting the role.

“It’s really important for us as older guys – you can either fight it or you can go with it and move forward,” Griffin said. “I think a lot of the other guys have been real good, real mature about accepting the fact that it is the new regime and it is a different philosophy.”

Griffin only wishes he’d be here for the complete turn-around when the new stadium is built.

“I just can’t imagine once we have a new stadium what it’s going to be like,” the quarterback said. “He’s going to get LSU’s recruits. I’m serious. He’s unbelievable. He’s already stealing people from SEC schools. He’s the real deal.”

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