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After one season, Ellis Johnson out at Southern Miss

Ellis Johnson AP

In 2011, Southern Miss won 12 games, a Conference USA championship and bowl game.  That stellar résumé led head coach Larry Fedora to be gobbled up for the same position at North Carolina, replaced by Ellis Johnson.

Exactly 343 days later, and following a season in which the football team had as many losses as they did wins the previous year, the Golden Eagles will be moving on to their third coach in less than a year.

After abruptly canceling Johnson’s weekly Monday press conference, and following up on a day’s worth of rumors, Southern Miss announced they have dismissed the head coach and will commence a search for his successor immediately.  Johnson was informed of the decision Tuesday morning.

“Following a thorough assessment of our football program, I made the recommendation to our University President that we not retain Ellis Johnson as our head football coach,” athletic director Jeff Hammond’s statement read. “Dr. Lucas accepted my recommendation and earlier this morning I informed Ellis Johnson that he will not return in the future as our head football coach.”

Fair or not, Johnson will be one-and-done in Hattiesburg thanks to an inexplicable first season on the job.

Following up on that 12-win 2011 season, Southern Miss went 0-12.  They are the first team to go winless in a single season since both Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky accomplished that feat in 2009.  They are also believed to be the first FBS program to go from double-digit wins to winless in the span of one season.

The Golden Eagles had their streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons snapped in 2012, as was their streak of 10 straight bowl appearances.

Add it all up, and the athletic department was left with almost no choice but to can their coach.

“At Southern Miss we expect to compete hard and succeed both in the classroom and on the field,” said Hammond. “This is not the exception…This is in fact the standard, the norm, our identity and who we are.

“In this regard, we have already initiated a search for a new head coach.  We will move rapidly in this effort seeking a dynamic leader with the character to lead our program back to prominence.”

Johnson was hired by Southern Miss on Dec. 20 of last year, coming to the Golden Eagles after a three-year stint as South Carolina’s defensive coordinator/assistant head coach.  It was Johnson’s first head-coaching job at the FBS level.

It’s believed Johnson’s buyout will be $2.1 million, $700,000 for each of the three remaining years on his contract.

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15 Responses to “After one season, Ellis Johnson out at Southern Miss”
  1. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 1:03 PM

    Feel bad for Coach Johnson as this must sting. But a $2.1 million buy-out will ease some of that pain. I guess one can conclude the Peter Principle example at play in this one. But hey, Ellis is laughing all the way to the bank.

  2. neovenator250 says: Nov 27, 2012 1:20 PM

    One year? Wow. Guess he was winless. Thats pretty horrible. Shame. He was a good Defensive Coordinator. He’ll probably get that position somewhere and do well

  3. keasy3000 says: Nov 27, 2012 1:34 PM

    Go and get Tyrone Nix….QUICKLY!!!!

  4. florida727 says: Nov 27, 2012 2:01 PM

    Wait! Don’t fire him! He should be given at least five years to prove himself because he’s white, right?

    See how ridiculous that argument is when it’s reversed?

    Pretty simple: you win, you get rewarded; you lose, you walk… regardless of your skin color.

  5. friarjack61 says: Nov 27, 2012 2:08 PM

    There are those who cannot coach at certain levels, as he had proven.

  6. fnc111 says: Nov 27, 2012 2:08 PM

    No wonder this country is going down the drain when you don’t have to prove yourself yet you make millions after they fire you. 0-12 and he is allowed to keep the money and take home more the be t three years?

  7. fnc111 says: Nov 27, 2012 2:13 PM

    *next

    And he should claim racism.

  8. wvuandsteelers says: Nov 27, 2012 2:23 PM

    maybe WVU can hire him as D Coordinator.

  9. dmvtransplant says: Nov 27, 2012 2:59 PM

    @ florida727

    While I understand your point about a coach being good or bad no matter the color of their skin. Please don’t pretend like some colleges won’t hire some head coaches based on the color of their skin either.

    I’ll give you a basic example two coaches applied for a Head Coaching job:

    White Guy record= 5-19

    Black Guy record= 14-18

    Based solely on those records I have no idea why the White Guy was hired, but eventually Auburn figured it out and fired Gene Chizik.

    I think we can all agree that wins & loses is all that matters once your on the job, but getting a real chance sometimes racism is a problem.

  10. jonkybon says: Nov 27, 2012 3:09 PM

    dmvtransplant says:
    Nov 27, 2012 2:59 PM
    @ florida727

    While I understand your point about a coach being good or bad no matter the color of their skin. Please don’t pretend like some colleges won’t hire some head coaches based on the color of their skin either.

    I’ll give you a basic example two coaches applied for a Head Coaching job:

    White Guy record= 5-19

    Black Guy record= 14-18

    Based solely on those records I have no idea why the White Guy was hired, but eventually Auburn figured it out and fired Gene Chizik.
    _______________________________
    @dmvtransplant

    You do remember that Chizik won the National title two years ago???

    Most Auburn fans appreciate that.

  11. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 3:12 PM

    @dmvtransplant

    Must we start? It was a tainted NC at best.

  12. tgaustin says: Nov 27, 2012 4:30 PM

    Maybe they can get Brett Fav-ra to be there next coach??? Then they can Wrangler to sponsor and develop their uniforms!!

  13. dmvtransplant says: Nov 27, 2012 6:10 PM

    @ florida727

    With the right roster anybody can win in college football Larry Coker proved that at Miami and just like Larry being able to sustain that is why Chizik wasn’t qualified to began with.

  14. norcalirish says: Nov 28, 2012 8:35 AM

    Totally irrelevant.

  15. roundup5 says: Nov 28, 2012 12:40 PM

    I have said over the years, that if you can’t recruit, do not
    count on being around long. As for Embree, before he starts
    his Jessie Jackson impersonation, he better go back over
    the years and look at some of the “”white”” guys that didn’t
    last over two years.
    Further, if you will look at his, and it was his, coaching staff
    you will see why there was no progress, but regression. Just
    because you were a decent football player, does not mean you
    can coach……

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