Southern Mississippi has fired coach Ellis Johnson after one disastrous season that saw the program plummet from Conference USA champion to the worst record in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Athletic director Jeff Hammond announced the decision Tuesday morning, three days after the miserable 0-12 season ended with a loss to Memphis.
“At Southern Miss we expect to compete hard and succeed both in the classroom and on the field,” Hammond said in a statement. “This is not the exception. This is in fact the standard, the norm, our identity and who we are.”
The decision wasn’t unexpected, though it will cost the Golden Eagles. The 60-year-old Johnson is due a $2.1 million buyout over the next three seasons.
The veteran coach had been a successful defensive coordinator at several schools, including South Carolina, Mississippi State, Alabama and Clemson, before his arrival in Hattiesburg. He was also the defensive coordinator at Southern Miss in the late 1980s and was hailed as an experienced coach who had good ties to recruiting in the deep South.
His experience didn’t translate into head coaching success with the Golden Eagles — and the program suffered a stunning fall under his leadership.
Hammond gathered players for a meeting on campus Tuesday afternoon.
Southern Miss finished without a victory one season after a school-record 12-2 campaign that included a Conference USA championship and a win in the Hawaii Bowl. The Golden Eagles were the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision not to win a game this year.
It is the first time Southern Miss has had a losing record since 1993 and the first time the Golden Eagles have missed the postseason since 2001.
Johnson took over the program in December after Larry Fedora left for North Carolina. He inherited a roster that had 13 returning starters but could never find consistency on offense or defense.
Several factors played into Southern Miss’ awful season, including a difficult early schedule that included losses to Nebraska, Louisville and Boise State.
KENTUCKY HIRES FSU ASSISTANT MARK STOOPS
Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the Wildcats’ football coach.
Stoops has been the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, raising them from 108th in the nation to second. He replaces Joker Phillips, who was fired Nov. 4 after going 13-24 in three seasons. The Wildcats were 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference this year.
Stoops becomes the third brother in college football’s famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob Stoops is the coach at Oklahoma, and Mike Stoops, the Sooners’ defensive coordinator, coached at Arizona before joining the Oklahoma staff this year.
No. 5 Florida didn’t wait to give coach Will Muschamp a contract extension, locking him up in August before the season started, but the deal wasn’t revealed until Tuesday. Muschamp gets one more year – through 2017 – at $2.7 million annually. … Mississippi has been fined $5,000 by the Southeastern Conference after fans rushed the field following the football team’s 41-24 victory over No. 25 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Saturday.