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The Man from Starkville

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Well, Steve Spurrier has found his man. He looked far and wide across the landscape, scanning it for a proven defensive coordinator who could mold a unit fit to take the field along with Spurrier's offense. And he found...

Ellis Johnson.

Yes, apparently, Spurrier's list looked something like this:

Bud Foster
Ellis Johnson
Dave Odom

Just how "done" the deal is depends on who you're listening to. GamecockCentral, aka the South Carolina Rivals site, was reporting earlier that the deal was done before they moved it behind their premium firewall.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Johnson is interested. Hooray.

"I've had contact with a staff member to ask if I have any interest in the job, and I do," Johnson said. "I talked with Coach Croom. It's home, it's my wife’s home. It's another great SEC program and another great head coach.

"With many of those personal reasons and other reasons, I'm certainly going to express my interest."

The Palmetto state native came to MSU four years ago after serving three seasons as the head coach at the Citadel.


I'm not trying to just indiscriminately rip on Ellis Johnson. He is, from everything that I hear, a good man, and could indeed be a fine defensive coordinator.

I'm just wondering how we went from one of the best DCs in college football to the DC at the one SEC school that has managed to make South Carolina look like a competent team for the last five or so years. [Editor: Who's going to a bowl game this year? cocknfire: Touche.]

In any case, the highlights -- such as they are -- from Coach Johnson's resume.

  • 1983: Head Coach, Gardner Webb College
  • 1984: Defensive Coordinator, Appalachian State University
  • 1988-89: Defensive Coordinator, University of Southern Mississippi
  • 1994-96: Outside Linebackers Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Clemson University
  • 1997-00: Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach, University of Alabama
  • 2001-03: Head Coach, The Citadel
  • 2004-05: Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach, Mississippi State University
  • 2006-present: Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State University

And here are the numbers. Again, last five years as head coach or defensive coordinator (all as DC, in this case) at a BCS school.


The consistency is bothersome, with wild swings from 67th against the pass and 36th against the run to 65th against the run (which is almost Nix-esque) and 10th against the pass.

In fairness, though, this is all a great improvement from the Bulldogs squad of 2003, which was 115th against the pass (283.25 ypg), 90th against the run (190.25 ypg) and 113th overall (473.50 ypg).

He played at least some role in that revival. Can he have another, more successful revival at South Carolina?

If so, I'm all for it. But right now, color me unsure.