Southern Miss

USM BLOG: Johnson has 'no idea' if he will return as USM coach in 2013

First-year Southern Miss football coach Ellis Johnson said tonight that he didn't know if he would be back for the 2013 campaign following a 42-24 loss to Memphis to give his team an 0-12 final record.

Johnson was asked after the game if he expected to return for next season.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I'm more concerned about just the overall improvement of the team. We never got better and better. A lot of it is because of the quarterback situation and injuries at all positions. It was up and down, up and down. You look at week 12 and we were no better than we were week two. It's just been something we couldn't get hold of because of the personnel issues.

“We've got to take a lot of responsibility and me especially as a head coach. You want to see a team get better and better. We just never did do it.”

Johnson said that returning players will starting conditioning drills next week and that his focus will turn to recruiting in the coming weeks.

Johnson will meet with athletic director Jeff Hammond on Monday for their usual weekly meeting.

If USM is to fire Johnson with three years remaining on his contract, it will owe him $2.1 million at a minimum.

Players generally shrugged off questions about the future of their coaches after the game.

Senior center Austin Quattrochi said that tonight's post-game speech from Johnson wasn't out of the ordinary.

“(It was the) same old, 'Got to keep it up,'” Quattrochi said. “'We've got to get to work.'”

Most of the USM players seemed emotionless, stunned by the outcome.

“It's almost like they don't know how to react,” Quattrochi said. “People have never really been in this kind of situation. I guess people are almost like 'Oh my goodness.' They've got some work to do come January. I feel like they'll turn it around.”