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Practice report: Johnson pulls out of Army search

For the second time in his life, Ellis Johnson walked away from Army.

South Carolina’s defensive coordinator withdrew from consideration for the Cadets’ head-coaching vacancy, saying he was pleased to have been in the running for a job at “the most prestigious institution in America.”

Johnson, who played one season at West Point before returning to The Citadel, was scheduled to interview with Army on Sunday morning.

“I was just honored that they gave me the opportunity. But they were scheduling them on weekends, and with bowl practice, I really felt like I would have been fighting from the back of the pack,” Johnson said Sunday.

Army officials scheduled interviews with seven candidates, including Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, according to published reports.

Johnson, who turns 57 on Tuesday, dismissed criticism from fans who questioned his commitment after Johnson expressed interest in the Mississippi State and Army jobs.

“My only interest is: head coaching job in the SEC? Heck, yeah. Head coaching job at what I think’s the finest institution in America? Heck, yes,” Johnson said. “And anybody that doesn’t understand that, doesn’t understand this profession.”

Johnson, a Winnsboro native who received a contract extension midway through his first season with the Gamecocks, said he is happy at USC.

“I’m fortunate to be here, and loving every minute of it,” he said. “But those are opportunities that just don’t come along very often.”

Stock rising

For the first time since injuring his right knee against Tennessee, guard Lemuel Jeanpierre was not in a yellow jersey Sunday. Though still less than 100 percent, Jeanpierre will be in uniform for the Outback Bowl and could see action.

Stock falling

Steve Spurrier’s spot in the NFL history books. Spurrier played quarterback on the 1976 Tampa Bay expansion team that finished 0-14. But after Detroit fell to 0-15 on Sunday with a loss to New Orleans, the Lions will try to avoid surpassing the Bucs in infamy next week at Green Bay.

“I’m pulling for the Detroit Lions. I want to maintain that record of being on the losingest NFL team ever,” Spurrier said. “That was an expansion team. … It wasn’t as terrible because we weren’t expected to do much. If we’d have won two games, they’d have thought that was a successful year.”

Quote of the day

“I’d like for him to have that Tim Tebow attitude: Nobody’s going to work as hard as I am. When Stephen Garcia says that, y’all tap me on the shoulder because he’s gotta learn how to work at it himself. But he does have a lot of ability to throw the ball,” – Spurrier.

Injury report

Akeem Auguste, a key reserve in the secondary, will miss the bowl game with a hamstring injury he sustained late in the season. Auguste has returned home to Hollywood, Fla., and will rest the hamstring for four to six weeks, Spurrier said.

Extra points

Spurrier did not counter-punch Sunday when asked about Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s jab. After Spurrier questioned whether Kiffin had taken the NCAA certification test before contacting recruits – including a couple the Gamecocks were after – Kiffin pointed out he correctly answered 39 of the 40 questions and wondered aloud about Spurrier’s score.

“I have always passed it,” Spurrier said. “I know he’s smarter than I am, there’s no question about that. I barely graduated from college. I know I’m not the smartest dude. No big deal.” …

USC is awaiting word on the academic appeals of punter Spencer Lanning and linebacker Dustin Lindsey, although it appears Lindsey will be ineligible. …

The Gamecocks will receive their bowl gifts this morning before breaking for Christmas. Among the big-ticket items: a Camcorder and bowl ring.