Headlinin’: It’s NCAA D-Day for Ohio State

Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

Welcome. Don't screw this up. All signs overnight point to a new coach at Southern Miss: Journeyman SEC assistant Ellis Johnson, who's expected to be announced today as successor to North Carolina-bound Larry Fedora. Johnson is coming to his first Division I gig from a four-year stint as Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator in South Carolina, where he assembled a blue-chip outfit that just finished fourth in the nation in total defense. At 60 years old, though, the guy's been around the block: Before South Carolina, he spent a decade as defensive coordinator on mostly mediocre teams at Mississippi State, Clemson, Alabama and, yes, Southern Miss, during Brett Favre's sophomore and junior seasons in Hattiesburg in 1988-89.

Still, Johnson's only head coaching experience in 29 years at the college level is one season (1983) at Gardner Webb and a three-year stint (2001-03) at his alma mater, The Citadel. Now he's taking over my alma mater, which has an 18-year streak of winning records and a Conference USA title to defend. She's in your hands now, Ellis. Treat 'er right. [Clarion-Ledger]

Whatever the result, at least everyone will accept it with dignity and perspective. It's D-Day for Ohio State, which expects to learn its fate today regarding the series of major violations that's already cost the Buckeyes their head coach, their star quarterback, the entire 2010 season and a handful of scholarships. A verdict is expected from the NCAA Committee on Infractions at 3 p.m. ET. [Associated Press]{YSP:MORE}

Was it the gold or the shower of cash that tipped you off? In other NCAA news, the Associated is looking into whether North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones willingly appeared on a flier promoting the "1st Annual Dwight Jones New Year's Birthday Celebration" in Burlington, N.C., on Dec. 31. The flier — featuring not only Jones' name but also his picture, both potential NCAA violations — promises free admission to the "first 24 ladies" at the door, "24 free shots every hour on the hour" and a $500 cash giveaway for "some lucky ladies in the building," all courtesy of D. Jones. (Admission starts at $10, if you're interested, or $20 for VIP. Dress code is "sexxxy casual.") It also touts Jones as a "2012 NFL Projected Top Draft Pick," which pretty much puts the kibosh on hopes for his senior season even if he was allowed to have one.

North Carolina is still awaiting its fate from the NCAA on a litany of major violations, including "failure to monitor social media" in the wake of former defensive lineman Marvin Austin's tweet heard 'round the world. UNC has already fired its head coach and athletic director, vacated 16 wins from the 2008-09 seasons and put itself on two years' probation. [Charlotte Observer, Deadspin]

Happy Trails. Bob Stoops confirmed Monday that tailback Brandon Williams — a former five-star recruit who languished near the bottom of the depth chart as a true freshman — has been granted a release to transfer and plans to enroll at Texas A&M with three years of eligibility remaining. Williams' departure and a season-ending injury to leading rusher Dominique Whaley cut the options in the Sooners' once-crowded backfield down to two for the Insight Bowl: Sophomores Brennan Clay and Roy Fince. [Tulsa World, The Oklahoman]

Stoops also said Monday that starting defensive end Ronnell Lewis is academically ineligible for the bowl game, and is likely headed for the NFL Draft. [The Oklahoman]

Quickly… Four college football stories rank among the Associated Press' top 10 sports stories of the year, three of them negative. … Given the competition, Landry Jones might want to think twice about leaving for the draft. … Zach Collaros was back at full speed at Monday's practice for the Liberty Bowl. … LSU fans remember the reason for the season. … The NCAA is screwing over this basketball player. … And contract or no contract, Mike Gundy isn't going anywhere.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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