VU coaches joining legends of Furman

Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 11:52pm

Bobby Johnson stood before a room full of people on Wednesday and looked to the future as he took his turn at the Southeastern Conference’s 2009 football media days.

Saturday, Johnson again will stand before a room full of people, only this time he will look to the past when he takes his place among other Furman University legends as an inductee into that school’s athletics hall of fame.

Vanderbilt’s football coach was named last month as one of three members of the 2009 hall of fame class. Also named was Commodores’ running back coach Des Kitchings, who was an All-American wide receiver at Furman under Johnson.

“I’m really honored and humbled by it,” Johnson said. “Furman’s a great place, and they’ve had a lot of good people go through there — coaches and players. To be honored by such a prestigious place is really something special.

“It’s also very fortunate that Des Kitchings is going in at the same time. It’s pretty neat when you have a player you coached who’s working with you now and going in the hall of fame with you at the same time at another school.”

Induction ceremonies will take place at a banquet to be held at a Greenville, S.C. hotel.

“It’s a dinner and an induction ceremony,” Johnson said. “I’m sure it’ll probably last two or three hours. It’s a small class, only three people are going in so it probably won’t take too long. We’re looking forward to going and seeing a lot of people we haven’t seen regularly in a long time.”

As either an assistant or the head coach, Johnson was involved in 10 of Furman’s 12 Southern Conference championships. He was defensive coordinator in 1988 when the Palladins won the Division I-AA championship and had the top-ranked scoring defense in the country

He had a 60-36 record as a head coach capped by an appearance in the 2001 I-AA title game.

“Bobby deserves all of that and more,” VU Vice Chancellor David Williams said. “He’s done a wonderful job for us, and I know the folks at Furman just love him. In one aspect, our gain was their loss but they’re class people down there and I think that he certainly deserves everything and more. He’s one of the real gentlemen and one of the real good guys in this business.”