what is it with Johnson that made him such a failure?
The assistants he hired was the first problem.
He went into the first game of the year planning to play three QBs. That's just a bad idea. After that game with Nebraska he said “When we subbed quarterbacks and switched a little bit of our game plan — let’s face it, we weren’t going to win the football game in the third quarter,” the Golden Eagles’ first-year coach said. “It was more about trying to improve our football team.” The score was 28-17 at that time. He used the Nebraska game as a scrimmage. I don't think he ever intended to win the game.
Before the 2nd game he said (paraphrasing) "We'll name the starter and WHEN he starts to play poorly we'll pull him." Not "if". "When".
Late in the year he said (paraphrasing again but very close to this)"If we feel like we're doing things the right way, the results don't matter. We're going to keep doing it".
After about 6 losses he said "If we ever win a game, these players are going to be hard to control." Not "when we win." "If"
After one loss he said the players didn't learn fundamentals from their pee-wee coaches.
And in the UTEP game, USM scored to get within one point with 3 minutes left. He went for two.