Former LSU assistant, NSU alum Johnson expands his championship ring collection

SMILIN’ BILL:  Former LSU and New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson spoke to players at his alma mater, Northwestern State, before helping the Tigers win the 2019 national championship.

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The Birmingham Stallions’ USFL championship triumph Saturday added to an impressive and unique resume’.

Walking off the field a champion was nothing new to Stallions’ defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

It was the latest in the line for the Monroe native, who was the defensive line coach at LSU when the Tigers won the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship by blasting Clemson in the Superdome.

Johnson was part of a noteworthy LHSAA state championship team at Neville High School in 1972. The Tigers had to replay a stalemated scoreless semifinal game with Brother Martin four days later in Alexandria, won, and three days afterward defeated Airline 6-0 in the Class 4A title game.

He was the defensive line coach in 2009 when the New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV, and stayed on Sean Payton’s staff through the 2016 season.

In a turnabout, he was the D-line coach at LSU under Ed Orgeron when the Tigers mounted perhaps the most dominant season in college football history. He had succeeded Orgeron as Saints D-line coach in 2009.

As a young assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern State, Johnson both coached Orgeron as a player and worked with him (1984) as an assistant coach. They worked together at McNeese and briefly at Miami before Johnson spent time at Arkansas and Texas A&M, then made the jump to the NFL in 2001 and joined Dan Reeves’ staff in Atlanta, then Denver, beginning two decades in the NFL.

Johnson played center for the Demons from 1975-79, then was hired by head coach A.L. Williams at the encouragement of his offensive line coach, Joe Raymond Peace, as a graduate assistant coach. It was like duck meeting water.

Johnson is believed to be the only person to have won championships with Louisiana teams at the prep, college and professional levels. Along with the 2019 title at LSU, Johnson was part of the Miami Hurricanes’ staff for their 1987 national championship.

Photo by GARY HARDAMON, Northwestern State