The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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How Gerald J. Ford’s private plane, three flights in 36 hours and a not-so-secret meeting have SMU as close as possible to finding a new football coach

How Gerald J. Fords private plane, three flights in 36 hours and a not-so-secret meeting have SMU as close as possible to finding a new football coach

THE TARGET

Navy head coach Paul Johnson appears to the No. 1 candidate for SMU.

The coach is 45-29 in six seasons at the Naval Academy and has led the Midshipmen to five straight bowls.

Johnson is capable of turning a program around. Navy was 1-20 in the two seasons before he arrived.

THE CHALLENGERS

Duke and Georgia Tech are the two other schools trying to hire Johnson. Johnson met with Georgia Tech officials on Sunday and Duke representatives Monday in Baltimore before leaving for Dallas.

THE VISIT

The Daily Campus was at Dallas Love Field when the plane arrived Monday night and was able to sight Ford’s plane after it landed, but was unable to determine who was on board because the plane pulled into a private hangar. Sources could confirm only that Johnson and Orsini were on board the flight. WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., reported Tuesday that Johnson’s wife was also on board the flight.

Johnson met with Orsini at an undisclosed location to discuss the job opening and visit campus before leaving Tuesday afternoon.

The Daily Campus was at Love Field again midday Tuesday and found Ford’s plane before it left for Baltimore, but was unable to see who boarded the flight due to the plane being in the hangar.

THE PLANE

D Magazine’s Frontburner blog reported Monday afternoon that a private plane registered to SMU booster Gerald J. Ford was departing from Dallas Love Field for Baltimore International Airport. The Gulfstream IV twin-jet’s tailnumber, N844GF, was able to be tracked via software on FlightAware.com. The two trips to Baltimore were the only time Ford’s plane had flown there in the last six months.

No additional flight plans for Wednesday had been filed as of this paper’s deadline.

THE MONEY

No agreement was reached between Johnson and Orsini, but SMU has a considerable amount of money to offer.

Boosters have raised between $10 and $12 million solely for the new coach’s salary.

Johnson is currently earning $1.5 million at Navy. That number includes various incentives written into his contract.

Any offer from SMU would have to be more than that to have him leave Annapolis for the Hilltop.

THE POTENTIAL MEETING PLACE

Students received a bulk e-mail Monday afternoon informing them the Loyd All-Sports Center would be “closed for maintenance” beginning at 5:30 p.m. As a result, all tutoring in the A-LEC was moved to the Dedman Center.

The Daily Campus visited the site at 7:45 p.m. Monday, but was unable to enter because the entire Ford Stadium facility was locked. However, the stadium lights were on and lights were on in the box level and in the offices.

The Daily Campus visited again at 9:30 p.m. and was able to gain entry since a set of doors had been unlocked. A floor-by-floor search of the complex came up empty, as no one was there. The Daily Campus learned Tuesday that SMU Police had been asked to guard the entrances to the building at the conclusion of Monday’s Tate Lecture.

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