LSU has extended an offer to Bill Johnson to serve as defensive line coach for the 2019 season while injured coach Dennis Johnson recovers from serious knee injuries.
Bill Johnson, who coached defensive line for the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl 44, has been offered the job to coach LSU's defensive line, a source told The Advocate. The one-year deal is pending a background check.
Dennis Johnson, who has been on LSU's coaching staff since 2014, suffered severe injuries playing basketball in the summer, which forced him to use a wheelchair. The former LSU defensive lineman was entering his second season as the position coach, and head coach Ed Orgeron said "it's impossible for him to coach the defensive line on the field."
LSU received a waiver from the NCAA that allowed analyst Kenechi Udeze to coach on the field, and the former USC All-American defensive end has been coaching the Tigers defensive line throughout preseason camp.
Bill Johnson will join the staff at a time when Orgeron is switching the defensive scheme that demands the defensive line attack more in 2019.
Orgeron said this year's LSU defensive line will resemble the units he "was accustomed to coaching" at Miami and USC, and Bill Johnson's background seems to align with that style.
Johnson coached defensive line in the NFL since 2001, with stints with the Atlanta Falcons (2001-2006), Denver Broncos (2007-2008), Saints (2009-2016) and Los Angeles Rams (2017-2018).
The 64-year-old Johnson was on the New Orleans staff when the Saints won the Super Bowl 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts in 2010, and the Rams made it to Super Bowl 53 last season in a 13-3 loss.
"He's a tremendous teacher," Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday. "He's an outstanding person and really, really good staff guy. And he had a lot to do with our Super Bowl. He's got a wealth of experience, and he's done it for such a long period of time that I think that'll be a big plus for LSU."
Johnson coached a Rams defensive line in 2018 that included All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Rams ranked No. 15 in the NFL last season with 41 sacks.
Bill Johnson and Orgeron, both respected defensive line coaches, have close ties throughout their coaching careers.
The coaches both started their careers as graduate assistants at Northwestern State; Johnson was the defensive end and linebackers coach at the school while Orgeron played there from 1980 to 1983.
Johnson, a Northwestern State graduate, was a two-year starting center for the program from 1976 to 1979.
Orgeron joined the Northwestern State staff as a graduate assistant in 1984. He then coached with Johnson again as a graduate assistant at McNeese State in 1985, when Johnson was the defensive line coach there.
Johnson and Orgeron didn't reconnect on the same coaching staff until now, although they coached for the same teams at different times over the following decades.
Johnson was a graduate assistant at Miami in 1987, when the Hurricanes won the national championship under Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson. Orgeron was the defensive line coach at Miami from 1988 to 1992.
Johnson was the defensive line coach at Arkansas from 1990 to 1991, where Orgeron had been an assistant strength coach and graduate assistant from 1986 to 1987.
Johnson was even Orgeron's replacement in New Orleans, when Sean Payton hired Johnson for the 2009 season when Orgeron returned to the college game to be the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Tennessee.
Johnson, a Monroe native, moved to coaching professional football after coaching defensive line during one of the most successful stretches in Texas A&M's history.
From 1992 to 1999, Johnson coached defensive line under Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum. The Aggies had four 10-win seasons and won back-to-back Southwest Conference titles in 1992 and 1993 and won the 1998 Big 12 championship game.
After spending the 2000 season as the defensive line coach at Arkansas, Johnson began his 18-year NFL career.
Johnson spent 2001 to 2006 with the Falcons, a defense that regularly ranked within the top 10 in fewest yards allowed and fewest yards per rush. Johnson coached former defensive tackle Rod Coleman, who led all NFL tackles in sacks from 2004 to 2006.
Before his eight-year stint in New Orleans, Johnson coached defensive line with the Broncos from 2007 to 2008. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil's 12½ sacks ranked sixth in the NFL in 2007.
Johnson coached two Saints defensive linemen who are within the franchise's top five in career sacks. The late Will Smith's 67½ sacks from 2004 to 2013 rank fifth all-time in New Orleans, and Jordan's 71½ sacks rank fourth.
LSU's coaching staff will soon have four coaches who have once coached for the Saints. Bill Johnson coached with LSU special-teams coach Greg McMahon, who was the Saints' special-teams coach from 2006 to 2016, and LSU's passing-game coordinator, Joe Brady, was an offensive assistant in New Orleans from 2017 to 2018.
Advocate sports reporter Amie Just contributed to this report.
Bill Johnson coaching file
2017-2018: Los Angeles Rams, defensive line coach
2009-2016: New Orleans Saints, defensive line coach
2007-2008: Denver Broncos, defensive line coach
2001-2006: Atlanta Falcons, defensive line coach
2000: Arkansas, defensive line coach
1992-1999: Texas A&M, defensive line coach
1990-1991: Arkansas, defensive line coach
1988-1989: Louisiana Tech, defensive line coach
1987: Miami, graduate assistant
1986: McNeese State, outside linebackers coach
1985: McNeese State, defensive line coach
1982-1984: Northwestern State, defensive ends/linebackers coach
1980-1981: Northwestern State, graduate assistant