History of the Christmas Light
December 17 - 30, 2017
With sheer determination, Jimmy Johnson fought his way up the football ranks from being a local football standout to a two-time Super Bowl winning coach. Born August 14, 1943, Johnson grew up in Port Arthur. A member of the Thomas Jefferson High School football team, Johnson earned All-State honors as a two-way lineman. At the University of Arkansas, he was named an All-Southwest Conference defensive lineman and helped the team win the 1964 championship. He lettered three times at the school and later was named to Arkansas' All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Johnson's coaching career began right out of college. He became the defensive line coach at Louisiana Tech in 1965. In 1966, an assistant's job fell through at Florida State and Johnson spent the year as assistant coach at Wichita State. Then, when he was 25 years old, he became the defensive coordinator when Johnny Majors brought him to Iowa State.
Johnson spent two years with Iowa State. Then je joined Chuck Fairbanks' Oklahoma staff. In 1973, he went back to Arkansas, this time as the defensive coordinator under Frank Broyles, his college coach. Johnson went on to be Pittsburgh's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. In his two years there, his defense was heralded as one of college football's all-time great defenses. In 1979, he took head coach duties at Oklahoma State.
Johnson rebuilt the team. In five years, the team had a 29-25 record and made two bowl appearances. He continued his winning ways when he went to the University of Miami. He led the Hurricanes to a 52-9 record and warned two Orange Bowl titles and a national championship. The team won a staggering 36 straight regular season games from 1985-1988, the fifth longest winning streak in NCAA history. It also won 20 consecutive road games in his four-year tenure as coach.
In 1989, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, who also happened to be a former Arkansas teammate of Johnson's hired him to join the National Football League as the Cowboys coach. He replaced the legendary Tom Landry. Johnson took the job and after one full season brought the team from one win to being a playoff caliber team. By 1991, the team sent four players to the Pro-Bowl, the first since 1979. The Cowboys were the first NFL team to have the leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, and receiver, Michael Irvin, in the same year. The 1991 playoffs marked the first post-season win for the Cowboys since 1982. The clubs' 11-5 record in 1991 was their best since 1983.
Johnson led the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1992 and 1993. He quit the team following an argument with Cowboy owner, Jerry Jones. After a brief stint as a television football analyst, he took the head coaching job for the Miami Dolphins in 1996, replacing another legendary coach in Don Shula. He coached the Dolphins for three years and retired in 1999. He again became a television football analyst for Fox Sports.
This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise.