Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn speaks to official during the second half of the Iron Bowl NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won 55-44. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill
November 30, 2014

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn fired defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson a day after giving up 55 points to rival Alabama.

Tigers coach Gus Malzahn announced the firing Sunday following a late-season slide that ended with a 55-44 loss in the Iron Bowl.

The 20th-ranked Tigers gave up 539 yards to the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday night in the highest-scoring Iron Bowl. They allowed an average of 483 yards and 39 points over their last six SEC games, losing four of them.

''At this time I felt it was best for our program to make a change with our defensive coordinator,'' Malzahn said. ''Ellis is a true professional and I would like to thank him for his contributions at Auburn.''

Auburn's defense made several key stands in close games en route to a Southeastern Conference title and the BCS championship game last season, but couldn't duplicate that feat.

Johnson was fired after going 0-12 in his lone season as head coach at Southern Miss. But he had successful stints running the defenses at Clemson, Alabama, Mississippi State and South Carolina during a four-decade coaching career. He has spent 18 seasons in the SEC.

''This is part of the business and I totally understand,'' Johnson said. ''I did think we were good in several areas, but overall it wasn't good enough. I'm disappointed for our players, but this is a results business. I want to thank Coach Malzahn and Auburn for the opportunity the last two years.''

The Tigers were especially weak against the pass and didn't have a consistent pass rusher with defensive end Carl Lawson out for the season with a knee injury.

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