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Southern Miss to hire Johnson

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Southern Miss and Ellis Johnson have agreed to a deal that would make him the school’s next football coach, according to a person familiar with the search.

The Hattiesburg (Miss.) American first reported the Golden Eagles’ intentions on Tuesday.

Johnson’s hiring could be announced as early as Tuesday, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there won’t be an announcement until the deal is official. The person said final details of the contract were still being discussed.

The 59-year-old Johnson is a veteran defensive coach who has spent the past four years as defensive coordinator at South Carolina. He has substantial ties in Mississippi, previously working as defensive coordinator at both Mississippi State and Southern Miss. He has also been a head coach at The Citadel and Gardner-Webb.

Johnson replaces Larry Fedora, who left Southern Miss after four seasons to take the job at North Carolina. The Golden Eagles just completed one of the most successful regular seasons in school history, winning 11 games and their first Conference USA championship since 2003.

Fedora will be the coach when Southern Miss plays Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

It was not known if Johnson would join Southern Miss immediately or remain with the Gamecocks when they face Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2.

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