HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - There are losing seasons, and then there's what the Southern Miss football team endured through 2012. The Golden Eagles now own the claim to the worst turnaround in Football Bowl Subdivision history; from 12-2 to 0-12.
Even a $2.1 million dollar price tag wasn't enough to sway university officials to let Head Coach Ellis Johnson have another chance. Southern Miss Athletics Director Jeff Hammond released a statement Tuesday morning, saying:
"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. 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...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. "
Later Tuesday evening, Interim President Dr. Aubrey Lucas made it very clear that a change of some sort had to be made. "Something had to be done. There was no choice there," he said, "You could not go into a season with no changes anywhere."
He also said there were other possibilities on the table, but wouldn't go into detail. As for Johnson's nine assistant coaches, the university has retained them, but should the new head coach decide to move in another direction, Lucas said the university is prepared to bear the cost of that as well.