The announcement of his hiring could come as soon as early next week. Officials at both schools are thought to want to wait until after Saturday's Army-Navy game.
|Paul Johnson's Midshipmen will play in the Dec. 20 Poinsettia Bowl. (US Presswire)|
The Middies have led the country in rushing three of the last four seasons. They currently lead this season again, averaging 357 yards per game.
Navy broke a 43-year losing streak against Notre Dame this season. That no doubt made an impression on Orsini, a former Irish running back.
While the Mustangs haven't been to a postseason game since before the death penalty years (1987-88), there is a feeling in the profession that the position could be a steppingstone job to greater pay and glory. SMU barely missed out on a bowl in 2006, going 6-6. If the next coach could get the program to its first bowl in more than 20 years, he could write his ticket in the future.
Johnson, 50, is one of only four coaches to win at least 50 games in their first four seasons in Division I. The coach won I-AA national championships at Georgia Southern in 1999 and 2000 before going to Navy in 2002. His career record is 105-39.
In October, Phil Bennett was fired with four games remaining in his sixth season at SMU. Bennett stayed on to finish the season, but the Mustangs lost all four games to end 1-11.