BREAKING: Denver Johnson Resigns as MSSU Head Football Coach

BREAKING: Denver Johnson Resigns as MSSU Head Football Coach

Missouri Southern head football coach Denver Johnson resigned on Tuesday morning, effective immediately. Defensive coordinator Joe Bettasso will serve as the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Johnson was in the middle of his fourth season with Missouri Southern. He leaves MSSU with a 3-33 overall record.


Joplin, Mo. – Missouri Southern head football coach Denver Johnson has announced his resignation effective immediately.

Defensive Coordinator Joe Bettasso has been named the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2018 season and a national search for a head football coach will be conducted at season’s end.

“After long and thoughtful reflection, I have chosen at this time to resign out of consideration of the program,” Johnson said. “I believe that affording the University the opportunity to begin a search immediately and name a new coach early in the upcoming recruiting cycle is paramount.”

“There is a very capable staff in place to shepherd the program through the remainder of the season. They are fine men and good coaches and they will provide the needed mentorship and guidance through this transition.”

Johnson is in his fourth season as the head coach for the Lions. In three years, he has helped mentor 20 All-MIAA selections, while more than 60 student-athletes have earned Academic Honor Roll Status.

Johnson also helped oversee the dramatic increase in roster size for the football program that saw the roster increase from just over 80 players to nearly 140.

A veteran of more than 30 years on the college football sideline, Johnson has served as the head coach at Illinois State and Murray State, while also serving as an assistant at his alma mater, Tulsa, the University of Colorado and Tennessee-Martin.

“I would like to thank Coach Johnson for his service to this institution,” said University President Dr. Alan Marble. “Throughout his time here, he has coached the team with the utmost of integrity and we wish him all the best in the future.”

“I want to take this time to let Coach Johnson know how grateful I am for giving me the opportunity to come back home to my alma mater, Bettasso said. “Over my short time with him, I grew to respect him as a coach and more importantly for the type of person he is. I will always consider him a close friend. I would like to thank Dr. Marble and Jared Bruggeman for the opportunity to lead this program for the remainder of the season.”

“On behalf of everyone in the athletic department, I’d like to thank Coach Johnson for the hard work he and his staff has put into this program,” Bruggeman said. “It is a daunting task coaching in the MIAA, and he has done it with nothing but class. I wish him, his wife Danita and his two daughters nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”