Longtime major college assistant coach Ellis Johnson is finally getting his wish, a chance to be a head coach on the FBS level. According to several media outlets covering the Golden Eagles, the USC assistant head coach for defense has been tabbed to replace Larry Fedora at USM.
Johnson and his wife met with the university president Monday in a second interview for Johnson. That meeting sealed the decision for USM and Johnson will get his shot at directing a major program.
Johnson twice before has been a college head coach, first at Gardner-Webb and then at his alma mater of The Citadel. He also was the head coach at Spartanburg High School. But the bulk of his coaching career has been as a defensive assistant or coordinator. In fact, he was the DC at Southern Miss in 1988-89. His other collegiate stops have been at Appalachian State, Alabama, Clemson, Mississippi State and USC which he joined in 2008.
Johnson is expected to turn to some familiar names in building his staff including former USC and Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Ricky Bustle.
As for a replacement at USC, Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier may first turn to former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. Stoops and his brother Bob have a close relationship with Spurrier and his son Steve Jr. Spurrier Jr. worked for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and for Mike Stoops at Arizona. And Bob Stoops was Spurrier’s defensive coordinator at Florida.
Spurrier would have to compete with Bob Stoops for his brother because there has been strong speculation in Oklahoma that Mike Stoops would return to Norman where he was the defensive coordinator on the team that won the 2000 national championship.