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Jay Hopson resigns as Southern Miss head coach

The USM head coach is out after four seasons in Hattiesburg

Southern Miss v Florida Atlantic Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

We’re just one week into the 2020 college football season and we’ve already seen our first coaching change.

In a wild turn of events, Southern Miss Head Coach Jay Hopson has decided to resign from the program after suffering a highly disappointing home loss to South Alabama in week one. It was the Jaguars first road win since 2017.

The news was first reported by Southern Miss outlets To The Top Talk and, before being corroborated by Brett McMurphy via Twitter.

Hopson had been in hot water in Hattiesburg for a while now, as the program had grown stagnant through his four years at the helm. Hopson concludes his time as the Golden Eagles’ head coach with a 28-23 record, with very few of those victories being marquee wins.

Interestingly enough, Hopson started his time at USM with what might have been his biggest win through his time in Hattiesburg, as the Golden Eagles knocked off Kentucky 44-35 in Hopson’s first game at USM. It was Hopson’s lone victory over a Power 5 opponent. USM would go on to win the New Orlean’s Bowl at the conclusion of that 2016 season, Hopson’s sole post-season victory in Black and Gold.

Perhaps the beginning of the end for Jay Hopson was his unsuccessful attempt to hire disgraced former Baylor Head Coach Art Briles as Southern Miss’ Offensive Coordinator. In a rare display of public disagreement between a head football coach and his athletic director, USM Athletic Director Jeff Mitchell strongly refuted Hopson’s attempts to hire Briles, a move which surely must have driven a wedge in the two’s working relationship.

While Hopson wasn’t overly successful on the field, he did do a good job of recruiting to Southern Miss. Hopson’s classes finished in the top six of the conference through each of his recruiting cycles, including a second place finish in 2017.

Hopson recruited great talent to Hattiesburg, but holding on to those players was a challenge.

USM made waves through the offseason as several of the team’s key players announced their intention to transfer out of the program. Standouts Jacques Turner, Racheem Boothe, Jaylond Adams, Shannon Showers, Trivenskey Mosley, and Steven Anderson all either opted out of the 2020 season or announced their intention to transfer out of the program. Turner and Boothe were both huge loses, as both were among the top players in Conference USA at their respective position.

Between the poor performance on the field and the rash of high-profile transfers, it was clear that Hopson was losing his handle on the program. While losing a head coach in Week Two is certainly rare, this move allows Southern Miss to get things back on track with an interim coach so that they can salvage a bit of this strange 2020 season.

With Hopson no longer with the program, Co-Offensive Coordinator Scotty Walden will serve as the interim head coach. A young and rising star in the coaching industry, Walden has a bright future ahead of him regardless of how the situation plays out in Hattiesburg this year. This will be Walden’s second head coaching stint, after he led the East Texas Baptist program as head coach in 2016. The program led Divison III in scoring under Walden’s direction.

Thankfully the Golden Eagles have a bye week to get their feet under them before hosting rival Louisiana Tech next Saturday on ESPN2.