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“He’s ready,” Johnson said with a smile.

Johnson had become just the third coach in Vanderbilt history to hold the job for at least eight years, joining Dan McGugin and Art Guepe. Johnson went 29-66 at Vanderbilt and coached the Commodores to their only non-losing season since 1982 in 2008 by winning the Music City Bowl.

That was only Vanderbilt’s second bowl win ever and first since the 1953 Williams had that trophy brought out and put on a table during the news conference.

Johnson also ended losing skids to eight other SEC teams during his tenure, including a 22-game string to Tennessee in 2005.

“They expect to win,” Johnson said of the Commodores. “That’s the best thing I could’ve done for this program.”

But he lost the top recruit of his incoming class in February when Georgia running back Rajaan Bennett, the highest-rated player ever signed to Vanderbilt, was shot to death at his home. Asked about competing in the SEC as the league’s only private school, he cited a stat that Vanderbilt had lost 26 games by seven points or less during his tenure.

“That’s kind of tough,” Johnson said.