Ellis Johnson Hired As Southern Miss Football Head Coach

Southern Miss has hired South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson as their next head coach.

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Ellis Johnson Named Southern Miss Head Coach

There's a new coach in Hattiesburg, Miss. and he's a familiar face: it's Ellis Johnson, the defensive coordinator at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier, and former defensive coordinator for his new team, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, the school announced.

Johnson, 59, has been the Gamecock's DC for the past four seasons. He was the coordinator at Southern Miss in 1988 and 1989, and has also worked as the coordinator for Mississippi State, Alabama and Clemson. His last head coaching gig was at The Citadel from 2001-2003.

Johnson will replace Larry Fedora, who, after a 10-2 regular season, will coach the Golden Eagles in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl before he takes over as the head coach for the North Carolina Tar Heels next season.

Southern Miss has a reputation for a strong football program, one that was reinforced in their dominant win over Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game, the Cougars' first loss of 2011. They haven't however, made a BCS bowl in their history, something Johnson said he'd like to change in his introductory press conference.

"As I take over this program, I'm looking for something that's never been done before," Johnson said. "Frankly, there's very little left. It's intimidating, but it's also challenging."    

Johnson was signed to a four-year contract, but the financial details haven't been disclosed.

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Southern Miss. Coaching Search: Kirby Smart Reportedly Interviews, Withdraws From Consideration

Kirby Smart did interview for the vacant Southern Mississippi head coaching position on Friday, but withdrew from the search, according to a report. Smart was reportedly high on Southern Mississippi's list, but has decided to stay at Alabama. Southern Miss. is looking to replace Larry Fedora, who left for North Carolina after collecting the Conference USA title this season.

The report comes from ESPN's Mark Schlabach, who also added a few other names that may be in the mix.

Filed to ESPN: #Bama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart interviews with So. Miss and withdraws from consideration Friday night. Smart was considered top candidate to replace Larry Fedora; #Gamecocks DC Ellis Johnson and #Pokes OC Todd Monken also under consideration

Former Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix and Murray State's Chris Hatcher were also scheduled to interview on Friday as Southern Miss targets a variety of assistants for its head coaching position.

For all your college football needs, head to SB Nation's NCAA Football hub.

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Larry Fedora, UNC Football Reach Agreement, According To Report

Larry Fedora and the North Carolina Tar Heels have reportedly reached an agreement for the current Southern Miss Golden Eagles head coach to take the same position with the Tar Heels. Fedora has been linked with the job several times in the past few days, but it seems that a deal is now all but official.

Fedora reached an agreement in principle with the Tar Heels to be next head coach, according to a tweet from the always excellent Bruce Feldman. Feldman reports that his source told him the deal was agreed to early Wednesday morning, meaning an announcement could be on its way shortly.

The Tar Heels job isn't an exceptional one, but as SB Nation's Bill Connelly notes, it's probably a step up from the head job at Southern Miss.

Five-Year F/+ Avg: +7.3% (35th)
Five-Year Record: 35-28
All-Time Record: 602-470-48
Five-Year Attendance Average: 57,065 (Capacity: 60,000)

Fedora, who led Southern Miss to an 11-2 record this season, apparently was chosen over Gus Malzahn, Everett Withers and possibly Skip Holtz -- though the latter denied those rumors.

Keep up with SB Nation's comprehensive UNC Coaching Search Rumors Story Stream and Tar Heels blog, Carolina March, for the latest updates and fan perspective on the Tar Heels head coaching search. For all your college football needs, head to SB Nation's NCAA Football hub.

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