In 2011, Southern Miss produced maybe its best team ever, winning 12 games and the Conference USA title. In 2012, Southern Miss produced maybe its worst team ever, losing 12 games in a down Conference USA and becoming one of only two winless teams in all of Division I (being associated with FCS Rhode Island: unfortunate). Thus, Ellis Johnson has reportedly been fired as head coach one year after replacing Larry Fedora, who left for UNC, according to Patrick Magee.
#SouthernMiss football coach Ellis Johnson will not return for the 2013 season— Patrick Magee (@Patrick_Magee) November 27, 2012
Johnson will receive the buyout as called for in his contract, about $2.1 million for the three remaining years— Tim Doherty (@TdohertyTim) November 27, 2012
It's not often you see a program opt for a one-and-done head coach, but it's very hard to make a case for retaining Johnson. The Golden Eagles suffered from bad injury luck and dropped a handful of close games, including one in overtime to possible Big East champ Louisville, but the results are the results, and USM fans began expressing mass discontentment around the 0-4 mark, with 0-7 hitting "unprecedented disaster" territory according to Matt Hinton ... let alone 0-12. Somebody's got to buy tickets.
As for replacements, the Golden Eagles could look to restore what Fedora built -- like, exactly what Fedora built. Pete Roussel reports Tar Heels offensive coordinator Blake Anderson could be the target. Anderson was in Hattiesburg from 2007 through 2011, and could conceivably reinstall a system very similar to Fedora's.
This was Johnson's first gig as a FBS head coach, and very likely his last. He should be able to land a spot as a defensive coordinator, if so inclined, as he has 12 years of SEC assistant experience included in his lengthy resume. As for where he goes now, well, Auburn needs a SEC-ready defensive coordinator.
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