December 7, 2013

Curtis Johnson receives three-year contract extension

If there was an extra note of enthusiasm in Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson's voice when he addressed the crowd at Devlin Fieldhouse after a basketball game on Saturday afternoon, the reason became clear shortly afterward.

Athletic director Rick Dickson announced a three-year extension for Johnson that will keep him under contract through the 2020 season. Terms of the contract were not released.

Johnson, who was named coach on Dec. 5, 2011, guided the Green Wave to its first winning record and bowl game since 2002. Tulane (7-5) will face Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"You want to have some type of stability and a family atmosphere, a great attitude and everybody in the program pulling in the same direction," Johnson said. "By them showing me enough respect and enough love to give me a new contract, I can't help but want to be here because I love this place."

Johnson had never been a head coach or a coordinator before Tulane hired him away from the New Orleans Saints, where he had been the wide receivers coach for six years. He endured a brutal 2-10 opening season that began when Conference USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year Trent Mackey was kicked out of school after being arrested for armed robbery (he later was acquitted), continued with the cervical spine fracture that left defensive back Devon Walker paralyzed and finished with the Wave ranked 12th from the bottom nationally in offense and seventh-to-last in defense.

His staff of assistants remained intact in the offseason, though, and Tulane began year No. 2 by winning five of its first seven games and taking sole possession of first place in Conference USA. The Green Wave stumbled a bit down the stretch but still became bowl eligible by the end of October, ranking 26th nationally in total defense and 15th in rushing defense.

Johnson is the first Tulane coach to inherit a team with a losing record and produce a bowl appearance in two years.

Johnson, a New Orleans native and graduate of St Charles High School, has relied heavily on recruits from Louisiana and key transfers like Chris Davenport, a graduate student who spent four years at LSU, and quarterback Nick Montana.

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