It appears the rumors are true.
Ellis Johnson is expected to be named the next head coach at Southern Mississippi on Tuesday. Johnson recently interviewed for the position in Atlanta this past Thursday and flew up to Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Monday afternoon to meet with school officials. It was during this second interview process that Johnson was offered the head coaching position.
Johnson will leave South Carolina after joining the staff in 2008 to be the defensive coordinator. His title was later changed to the Assistant Head Coach in Charge of Defense when Lorenzo Ward was added to the staff at a later date. Johnson has spent time at Southern Mississippi before as their defensive coordinator in the late 1980's and has also coached at Mississippi State as well. There are some connections there between Johnson and the state of Mississippi.
The move will hurt South Carolina as they lose a great coaching mind and part of the reason for the Gamecocks success the last few seasons. Johnson built this defense into a national power and he'll be tough to replace.
Early names to surface so far are Mike Stoops, the former Arizona head coach, and Ron Zook, the former Illinois head coach. Both have ties to Steve Spurrier but we'll see if either one is likely to be involved. Stoops would be the more likely of the two to draw interest from the Gamecocks at this time.
Southern Mississippi is landing a great coach in Ellis Johnson and he'll be missed in Columbia.