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.