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New Coach, New Quarterback for Southern Miss in 2013

Ellis Johnson and former four-star quarterback recruit Anthony Alford are out after a winless 2012 season.

Eric Francis

When a program like Southern Miss goes from a twelve win season to twelve losses the next season, you can't be surprised when they hit the reset button. Out goes Ellis Johnson, the former South Carolina defensive coordinator after just one winless season, and in comes Todd Monken from Oklahoma State. It's a formula that's worked well twice before in Hattiesburg. In 1990, Southern Miss hired Jeff Bower, who was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator. He went 119-83-1 in 17 years. Then in 2007, the Eagles hired Larry Fedora, who also was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator; he went 34-19 in five seasons before leaving to take over North Carolina.

So once again the Eagles tap an Oklahoma State offensive coordinator; Monken spent two seasons in Stillwater. Prior to that, he spent four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, two with LSU (working along side Bo Pelini), and another three seasons as wide receivers coach with Oklahoma State. He'll bring along the spread offense that has been successful for Mike Gundy with the Cowboys.

He will have to break in a new quarterback with Southern Miss. Freshman Anthony Alford has been granted his release from scholarship. It was a troubled season for Alford; he was the Eagles third leading rusher with 329 yards, and also led in passing yardage with 664. But that's because he attempted nearly double the number of passes as anybody else; he only completed 44% of his passes for two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Where will he wind up? There are rumors that he's looking to head to 'Ole Miss, but his future might actually be in baseball. He was a third round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, and played five games last summer for Lansing in class A. Some people think his skills are a better fit for baseball, though Alford was considered a four-star recruit as a dual threat quarterback a year ago.

If Alford's poor play weren't enough to discourage his football career with Southern Miss, his arrest last month for a campus altercation likely was the final straw. The charges have been reduced from aggravated assault to conspiracy to possess a weapon on campus, but the effect was to ban him from campus.

It's too soon to predict where Southern Miss will turn next for a quarterback, but the leader is probably junior-to-be Arsenio Favor. He missed the first half of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered in the spring, but did have a great game against UTEP, completing 73% of his passes for 374 yards.Ellis Johnson and former four-star quarterback recruit Anthony Alford are out after a winless 2012 season.