It is being widely reported by several South Carolina based media outlets and Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American that Southern Miss has narrowed their focus for a new coach to a handful of candidates which includes South Carolina Assistant Football Coach Ellis Johnson.
Also on the short list include: current Southern Miss offensive coordinator Blake Anderson, UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth, former offensive coordinator Jay Johnson (now the offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette), and LSU running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson.
What is being reported is Ellis Johnson is going to interview on Thursday and all intereviews are to be completed by Friday so this could move swift. Most think Southern Miss will hire from within and many point to Blake Anderson being the leading candidate. Yet there are some that want Mr. Johnson due to his strong recruiting ties to the South and his defensive coaching expertise.
From our side, and yes we are bias….just say no Ellis.
Johnson is a native of Winnsboro, S.C. and has spent the past four seasons at USC. He worked at Southern Miss from 1988-89 and also had a stint as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State from 2004 to 2007. Johnson’s only collegiate head coaching experience came in a stint The Citadel (2001-2003) and a one year gig at Gardner-Webb in 1983. But he is respected and has proven to be a top-notch coach at USC in helping to reshape the direction of the program.
Losing Johnson would be huge for USC in a bad way. He is the soul of the defense and his coaching abilities combined with his recruiting tactics would be a huge blow to South Carolina. Defense has proven time and time again they are one of the best in the SEC, which means the nation and the man responsible is Mr. Johnson. USC needs to do what they can to keep him happy.
In saying that, this is how it will play out. Johnson will interview. Come back to USC and leverage this for more money, which again is well-deserved. He will sign a new contract that will keep him around for awhile with some more perks. Don’t think it will include a “coach in waiting” tag but it will make all parties, including the fans, happy. Johnson loves South Carolina. Time to show him the love back. Step one is for him to say no to Southern Miss.