Southern Jaguars impressed by first interview

Southern University Athletic Director William Broussard said the school’s first interview for a new football coach convinced him and the search committee that the Jaguars are on the right track.

Nevada offensive tackles and tight ends coach James Spady interviewed on campus Monday before returning to Reno, Nev., to help the Wolfpack prepare for its upcoming bowl game. SU interim coach Dawson Odums is scheduled to interview Tuesday, and Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins is set to interview Thursday.

Spady is a native of Biloxi, Miss., and was a starting center for four seasons at UTEP, twice being named All-Western Athletic Conference. He has been an assistant at five colleges during his 20-year career, including a stint as offensive coordinator at Grambling from 2007-09.

The Tigers compiled a 26-10 record and won a Southwestern Athletic Conference title during Spady’s stay.

“It went extremely well,” Broussard said of Spady’s interview. “He was everything we expected him to be. He gave a very sharp presentation and demonstrated that he has a clear concept of what it takes to be a successful as a Division I head coach.”

Spady, who turns 47 next month, did two Minority Internships with the NFL, working with the Green Bay Packers (1997) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1999).

Broussard said Spady’s three seasons at Nevada, a member of the Mountain West Conference, would translate well to Southern in terms of being able to succeed without unlimited resources.

“Resourcewise, they are in the same sort of predicament that we are in our category,” Broussard said. “They work with great efficiency and replicate success every year, which is what we are looking for.”

The Wolfpack’s game against Arizona in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday will be its seventh bowl appearance in as many seasons.

Broussard said Spady went to Nevada for the opportunity to work with coach Chris Ault, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and learn Ault’s high-octane pistol offense. The pistol is similar to the shotgun formation, but the quarterback lines up closer to the center.

Colin Kaepernick, who has emerged as the starting quarterback for the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers in his second NFL season, had extraordinary success running the offense for Ault. He’s the only player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000.

The Washington Redskins have installed a version of the pistol for No. 1 pick Robert Griffin III, a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Broussard said he wouldn’t hire a coach “solely” because he would implement an exciting brand of offense, but such an offense would be “marketable.”

“The pistol is a very versatile concept,” Broussard said. “It’s an adaptable offense, and you can plug in a lot of different players.”

Broussard said that would be useful in helping the Jaguars recruit players. Southern has gone 4-7 each of the past two seasons.

“The committee emerged with a sense that the selection committee did an extremely good job of narrowing the pool of candidates,” Broussard said. “We came out of day one feeling very confident about the quality of candidates on paper and feeling very good about the interview process.”

Spady had meetings with university officials on campus Monday morning before touring the athletic facilities with Broussard.

He spoke by telephone with SU Chancellor James L. Llorens, who was out of town, after lunch.

Broussard and Spady wrapped up the interview by midafternoon before Broussard brought Spady to the airport.

Odums was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator before taking over as interim head coach when Stump Mitchell was reassigned after an 0-2 start in which the second loss was a 6-0 home defeat to Mississippi Valley State — which at the time was 1-19 in its past 20 games, though the Delta Devils finished 5-6 this year.

SU won three of its first four under Odums, then lost four in a row before concluding the season with a 38-33 victory against Grambling in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 24.

Jenkins has led Bethune-Cookman to a 27-8 record in the past three seasons, including a 9-3 record this season. The Wildcats 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.

Broussard wouldn’t rule out adding another interview but said only three have been scheduled.

He said he’s “still on the same trajectory” to recommend a candidate to the SU System Board of Supervisors at its meeting Friday.