STILLWATER — Pat Jones calls Jimmy Johnson the smartest football mind he's ever worked with.
But what made Johnson a special coach, Jones says, were his personality and the way he treated people.
“Jimmy is the prime example that nothing good ever happens without being enthusiastic about it,” Jones said in March.
That charisma showed through when Johnson helped rebuild the Oklahoma State program from 1979-83. It's a quality Jones aimed to emulate when he took over for Johnson as the Cowboys' coach. And it contributed to Johnson's success in 10 seasons as a college coach, a career worthy of him being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation on Tuesday.
“He was really a very, very upbeat person,” Jones said. “Looking back at it, we didn't get beat up in staff meetings. He didn't second-guess us much at all. He treated us, his assistants, like he want to be treated.”
The 2012 class will be inducted at the NFF awards dinner on Dec. 4 in New York City and will be officially enshrined in the summer of 2013.
Johnson is generally better known for his days at the University of Miami, where he won the 1987 national title, and with the Dallas Cowboys, where he won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993. But he got his head coaching start at OSU. He went 30-25-2 in five years in Stillwater with two bowl appearances and was the Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1979.
That all helped lay the foundation for OSU's run during the mid- and late-1980s, when the Cowboys tallied three 10-win seasons under Jones.
“Obviously, I'm honored to go into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame,” Johnson said during Tuesday's announcement. “People for years have asked me to compare coaching in professional football to coaching in college football.