Southern Miss’ Ellis Johnson ousted after one season

Graham Watson

Southern Miss coach Ellis Johnson has given new meaning to the term "one-and-done."

Johnson was fired Tuesday following an 0-12 season, the Golden Eagles' worst campaign in history. Prior to this year's debacle, the Golden Eagles' worst year was the 2-8-1 season in 1993.

"Following a thorough assessment of our football program, I made the recommendation to our university president that we not retain Ellis Johnson as our head football coach," athletic director Jeff Hammond's statement read. "Dr. Lucas accepted my recommendation and earlier this morning I informed Ellis Johnson that he will not return in the future as our head football coach."

While no one wants to see a coach get just one season, Johnson didn't take over a struggling program. The Golden Eagles were 12-2 when former coach Larry Fedora decided to leave for North Carolina. It was the best season in school history. There were high hopes that Johnson could just continue to keep the program on course. Under Fedora, Southern Miss gained national prominence and respect, but most of that was washed away during the course of this season.

Southern Miss is the first FBS team to go winless since Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky in 2009, and the losing season snapped the Golden Eagles record of 18 consecutive winning seasons.

Sometimes an athletic director just knows when the program is heading in the wrong direction. For Southern Miss, this was the right decision.

"At Southern Miss we expect to compete hard and succeed both in the classroom and on the field," said Hammond. "This is not the exception…This is in fact the standard, the norm, our identity and who we are.

"In this regard, we have already initiated a search for a new head coach. We will move rapidly in this effort seeking a dynamic leader with the character to lead our program back to prominence."

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