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Southern Miss fires Ellis Johnson after 1 season

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Johnson is introduced at a Southern Mississippi press conference in December, 2011. Johnson is introduced at a Southern Mississippi press conference in December, 2011.

DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer

HATTIESBURG, MS (AP/WIS) - Southern Mississippi has fired football coach Ellis Johnson after one winless season.

Athletic director Jeff Hammond said in a statement Tuesday that Johnson "will not return in the future as our head football coach."

The 60-year-old Johnson is due a $2.1 million buyout over the next three seasons.

The veteran coach has been a successful defensive coordinator at several schools, including South Carolina, Mississippi State, Alabama and Clemson before coming to Hattiesburg, Miss.

During Johnson's first season with the Gamecocks, he was one of five finalists for Defensive Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com. In 2010, the defense finished No. 15 nationally against the run. In 2009, the defense finished No. 15 national in total defense.

That experience didn't translate into success with the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss finished with a 0-12 record one season after a school-record 12-2 finish that included 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.

"At Southern Miss, we know a winner when we see one," said President Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders as she introduced Johnson to a crowd of Golden Eagle faithful in December, 2011.

"I want to take Southern Miss to a BCS bowl game and win it," said Johnson during his introductory press conference.

Johnson replaced Larry Fedora who took the head coaching job at the University of North Carolina. UNC finished 8-4.

 Copyright 2012 WIS/The Associated Press.

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