National notes

Auburn tabs Ellis Johnson to run defense

Kentucky hires second FSU assistant; Strong staying at Louisville

The Associated PressDecember 6, 2012 

South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) celebrates a sack in the third quarter of their game at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • Clowney earns All-America nod USC sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was named to the Walter Camp first-team All-America squad on Thursday. Clowney set the USC standards for sacks in a season (13.0), tackles for loss in a season (21.5) and sacks in a game (4.5 against Clemson) during the 2012 campaign. Clowney also was named a first-team All-American by FoxSportsNext.com on Thursday. USC places Three on freshman squad South Carolina placed three players on the SEC All-Freshman squad, as selected by the league’s coaches. Earning spots on the squad were tight end Jerell Adams, offensive tackle Brandon Shell and defensive back T.J. Gurley.

— Auburn has hired former Southern Miss coach and South Carolina assistant Ellis Johnson as defensive coordinator.

New Tigers coach Gus Malzahn announced Johnson’s hiring Thursday, two days after getting the job.

Johnson was fired after Southern Miss went 0-12 in his lone season, but he has an impressive track record running SEC defenses.

He has been defensive coordinator at USC, Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State.

His final Gamecocks defense ranked third nationally in yards allowed and second-best against the pass.

Malzahn called Johnson “one of the top defensive minds in all of college football.”

The Tigers had a frequently shuffling lineup on defense last season. They finished 80th nationally in total defense, giving up 420.5 yards per game.

Stoops hires FSU’s Eliot to lead Kentucky defense

Kentucky’s new coach Mark Stoops has hired former Florida State assistant D.J. Eliot as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Eliot coached Seminoles defensive ends the past three seasons alongside Stoops, FSU’s former defensive coordinator. No timetable was given for Eliot’s start date.

The two men previously worked together at Wyoming — where Eliot played linebacker under Stoops — Houston and Miami. Eliot, a 15-year veteran, also worked at Texas State, Tulsa and Rice.

Oklahoma State’s Gundy says he intends to stay

Mike Gundy says he intends to remain at Oklahoma State amid a report that he was offered the Tennessee job.

Gundy said there was “no question” he planned to stay at his alma mater. The former Cowboys quarterback is the school’s winningest coach with an eight-year record of 66-35.

CBS Sports reported that Tennessee had offered Gundy the job. Gundy wouldn’t address the Tennessee situation specifically.

Strong staying as Louisville coach

Charlie Strong’s decision to stay at Louisville is the second major coup for the Cardinals in eight days.

After reports linking Strong to several openings in the SEC, he said that he wasn’t going anywhere. Keeping the coach had become a priority for Louisville after announcing last week it will join the ACC in 2014.

“I knew this would be a big opportunity,” Strong said during a news conference at the Cardinals’ football stadium. “It was the best decision to stay here, continue to build a program and fulfill our dreams on the football field and in the classroom.”

Strong turned down an offer from Tennessee on Tuesday night to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18. Strong had been in discussions with the Volunteers since last Thursday but did not provide any details of their offer.

Now that Louisville knows Strong is staying, athletics director Tom Jurich said they will begin re-negotiating the seven-year contract Strong received last year that pays him $2.3 million per season.

The Arkansas native was also considered a solid candidate to coach the Razorbacks before Strong’s name came up in recent weeks for jobs at Auburn and eventually Tennessee, which made a hard push for the 52-year-old.

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