Former South Carolina football coach named one of the worst hires of 21st century

Former South Carolina football defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was named one of the worst college football coaching hires of the last 25 years from when he was hired as the headman at Southern Miss.

Former South Carolina football defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson
Former South Carolina football defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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When the MessengerSports' Ryan Nanni released his list of the 20 worst college football coaching hires since the year 2000, South Carolina football fans might have suspected one of their own would have made the list. Will Muschamp likely wouldn't make it for his Gamecock tenure, but his Florida stint probably would have been among most fans' first guess. Instead, Coach Boom did not make the list. A different Gamecock coach who worked with Muschamp did, however.

Former USC defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson had the dubious honor of making Nanni's list.

After helping lead the Gamecocks' defense to become one of the country's best units, Johnson left his defensive coordinator position within the South Carolina football program to try his hand at being the head coach of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Things did not go well for Johnson in Hattiesburg.

After a 12-2 finish in 2011 under previous head coach Larry Fedora, Johnson's team went 0-12, and 8 of their losses came by double-digit points. As it turned out, coaching is a little easier when you're coaching guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, and Stephon Gilmore than it is when you're leading a team that had exactly one player drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft (to contrast, the Gamecocks had 7 players selected that year).

The "highlight" of the 2012 Southern Miss season came when the Golden Eagles held a halftime lead over a ranked Louisville squad in Hattiesburg. Ultimately, though, they choked that game away as one of three squandered halftime leads that season (@ East Carolina and UAB were the other two).

Southern Miss fired Johnson after just one season leading the program. He then returned to the SEC as the defensive coordinator at Auburn before finishing his career as an off-field analyst for the South Carolina football program under Will Muschamp.

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