Coaching search at SU down to final six

Associated Press photoBethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins
Associated Press photoBethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins

Brian Jenkins, who has led Bethune-Cookman to a 27-8 record over the past three seasons, is one of six semifinalists for the top job at Southern University, according to a source with knowledge of the search.

Dawson Odums, who went 4-5 as the Jaguars’ interim coach this season after SU ended the Stump Mitchell era, is among the other leading candidates. Longtime college assistants John Hendrick and James Spady are other semifinalists.

Athletic Director William Broussard declined Sunday night to identify candidates by name but said that Southern has narrowed its seach to six people, adding that SU plans to reveal the names of at least four semifinalists Monday.

Broussard said he plans to interview all six candidates by phone this week.

One of them figures to be Jenkins, who’s fresh from his most successful season at Bethune-Cookman so far, having led the Wildcats to a 9-3 overall record. They were undefeated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and reached the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, where they lost to Coastal Carolina. It was Bethune-Cookman’s second playoff trip under Jenkins.

Odums, formerly the defensive coordinator at Southern, became the interim coach when SU reassigned Mitchell after a devastating 6-0 home loss to Mississippi Valley State on Sept. 13. At the time, the Delta Devils were 1-19 in their past 20 games; they finished 5-6 this year.

Odums led the Jaguars to wins in three of their next four games. But Southern later dropped four in a row before rebounding to win the Bayou Classic, finishing 4-7.

Hendrick was an assistant at Southern in 1986, just one stop among many in a long coaching career that began in 1983. Hendrick was 19-24 as head coach at Benedict College, a Division II school in Columbia, S.C.

As defensive coordinator at South Carolina State in 2007, he led a unit that finished sixth nationally in total defense, allowing 286.7 yards per game.

Spady, a native of Biloxi, Miss., was offensive coordinator at Grambling under Rod Broadway from 2007-09, helping lead the Tigers to a 26-10 record and one Southwestern Athletic Conference title.

Spady was also a position coach at North Carolina Central, South Carolina State and his alma mater, UTEP.

He is currently the tight ends coach at Nevada.

Mitchell was in the final guaranteed year of a contract that paid him $200,000 annually.