For Ellis Johnson and Tommy West, turnabout is fair play.
When West got the head coaching job at Clemson in 1993, one of his initial moves was to hire Johnson, then an assistant at Alabama, as a member of his defensive coaching staff.
Now Johnson, fresh off a stellar stint as defensive coordinator at South Carolina and the newly-hired head coach at Southern Mississippi, has returned the favor by hiring West as his new defensive coordinator.
The Johnson-West connection gives Southern Mississippi’s new coaching staff a strong Clemson favor, especially in light of Johnson’s hiring of former Tiger wide receiver Rickey Bustle as offensive coordinator and the addition of Clyde Wrenn, who served as Danny Ford’s recruiting coordinator and subsequently in various administrative capacities at both Clemson and South Carolina, as his director of operations.
The addition of West and Bustle gives Ellis’ Southern Mississippi staff across-the-board head coaching experience. West has worked most recently as defensive coordinator at Alabama-Birmingham, coming off a nine-year run as head coach at Memphis. Bustle, who was Tulane’s quarterbacks coach last season, was head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2002 through 2010.
West compiled a 49-61 record at Memphis, after going 31-28 at Clemson, with four bowl appearances in six seasons.
Bustle had two stints as offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, running the Hokies’ offense in 1993 and 1995-2001. He also served as offensive coordinator at South Carolina in 1994 and Louisiana-Monroe in 1986.
He graduated from Clemson in 1975, and was a four-year letterman under coaches Hootie Ingram and Red Parker.
Bustle has indicated that he plans to continue a multi-formation, spread offense similar to what Larry Fedora utilized at Southern Miss before he left to become head coach at North Carolina.
Wrenn brings vast organizational experience to Johnson’s coaching staff. He has worked with Johnson at both Clemson and South Carolina.
Johnson added another member to his coaching staff earlier this week when he hired Petal (MS) High School head coach Steven Buckley as his running backs coach.