Blog Entry

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:27 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi

After losing head coach Larry Fedora to the North Carolina job, Southern Miss needed to find a new face to head its football program. It has apparently found that new head coach in South Carolina defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ellis Johnson.

Johnson, who is three days away from his 60th birthday, has reportedly accepted an offer from USM after interviewing with school president Martha Saunders on Monday night, according to the Clarion-Ledger, and is expected to accept the job as early as Tuesday. Johnson has a brief history with Southern Miss, as he was the defensive coordinator there in 1988 and 1989. 

The South Carolina defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense in three of Johnson's four years in Columbia, and this year was the Gamecocks' best of the four. South Carolina ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense this season, and fourth nationally (behind three other SEC teams, of course).

Prior to his time at South Carolina, Johnson spent time at various teams in the SEC and elsewhere in the southeastern U.S, including a four-year stint as Alabama's defensive coordinator from 1997 to 2000. Johnson was the head coach at the Citadel, his alma mater, from 2001-03; he managed a 12-22 record there before taking a job as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator in 2004.

No announcements of an impending hire have been made by Southern Miss, and no reports have surface about any contract terms that Johnson may have agreed to, but the "two sources with direct knowledge of the search" at USM that the Clarion-Ledger cited have indicated that the hire is a done deal. will provide more informaton when it becomes available.

Check out all the latest updates on this and every other FBS coaching search from this year at's Coaching Carousel.

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Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:14 am

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Ellis has been and always will be an excellent defensive coordinator.Johnson played and graduated from The Citadel..tough place to play and win..he was head coach there some 10 years ago and frankly failed..failing at The Citadel is not being at the .500 level. He tried to circumvent the military system of the very school he was All So.Conference.I don't think he is head coaching material ( I hope I am wrong..).He will never get the S.C. headcoaching job. They didn't want him as Head Coach at Miss.State. Sometimes you just have to know what your place is.

Since: Jun 24, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:09 am

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Congrats to Coach Johnson and USM, but what will the Head Ball Coach do next year with Lattimore on rehab and a new DC? Heck, he may even have to draw up some offensive plays next year.....

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 8:49 am

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Johnson earned the job, and he really had to take it.  He doesn't want to sit on the bench waiting to replace the "ol' ball coach," who just might hang around forever.  This should be his chance to write his own retirement ticket and save up a little more money for when it's time to hang it up and relax.  Of course, 12-22 won't cut it at Southern Miss, but he should have enough players to hit the ground running there.  
Also, it's not like he will really be under a national microscope there.  Outisde of Mississippi and CUSA, nobody really cares about what happens there and there isn't a lot of national press.  Good luck to someone who worked hard to get where he is. 

Since: Apr 27, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 6:05 am

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Happy to see johnson get a head coaching gig. Something needs to be done about these departures. A rule needs to be put in that a school can not talk to a coach until that season has ended. Look at all these teams going into a bowlwithout their coach. S. Miss coach left for North Carolina. Ark St coach left for ole miss. Florida and auburn offensive cordinator left for other jobs. Pitts coach left before bowl for another job. It's not fair to the kids who worked hard to earn that bowl, nor is it fair to the fans who pay their hard earned money to see their team in a bowl and then not get the teams best effort because the coach has left. Coaches always say it's about the kids which is a lie. these coaches always look out for number 1 and will dump these kids in a heartbeat for power and the almighty dollar.

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:04 am

Back to USC

ellis will use the so miss job as a stepping stone back to usc when spurrier retires in a couple of years.  He can win 8-9 games, get some head coaching experience, then get the big time SEC job at usc for real money.

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: December 20, 2011 3:00 am

Johnson leaving Sackerlina , the Ol' Ball Crutch

Looking good for the Golden Eagles folks , they get a salty veteran DC who carries the resume better than a lot of head coaches. Bad for the Gamecocks and Spurrier , they had finally gained some consistency in the defensive side. Who do they go get...or will they promote from within. Also, any chance that Ellis is bailing out of the Coop before the NCAA comes back like a hungry fox over these latest shenanigans that are certain to land some chickens in the frying pan ? One wonders......

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