Problem not solved.
Not for this season, at least.
Southern’s miserable 6-0 loss to Mississippi Valley State on Thursday cost coach Stump Mitchell his job, a move that — based on recent results — will give the Jaguars a chance to turn their program around in future years.
But what about right now?
Does Friday’s announcement make them a better team?
To answer that, you have to decide whether Thursday was Mitchell’s fault. Did he drop passes, miss a field goal, block poorly, fumble or drop a snap — the key mistakes that cost SU the game?
No, and while you could choose to blame him for ineffective play-calling, that’s not why the Jaguars lost. They lost because they played horribly, the same reason they lost at New Mexico.
To a degree, that poor execution falls on Mitchell, but the real culprits this season have been wearing helmets, not headsets.
As defensive tackle Casey Narcisse pointed out on Twitter, Thursday’s debacle was not Mitchell’s fault.
So what does cutting him loose now, rather than at the end of the season, do for SU?
In all likelihood, not much.
Changing up the offensive play-calling could certainly be of benefit (an offensive coordinator will be named next week), but based on Southern’s performance thus far, the perfect play could wind up a turnover.
If the Jaguars are to get better, they’ll have to be more disciplined (decision-making, penalties) and more fundamentally sound (catching, blocking). That could certainly happen, but removing Mitchell from the equation doesn’t seem like a sure-fire path to get there.
The biggest reason to dump Stump now was as a sacrifice to fed-up fans.
But will it bring more fan support? That’s doubtful too.
Only 7,788 showed up Thursday, and attendance was declining even before Mitchell arrived. The crowds aren’t coming back until the wins do, and there probably aren’t any administrative moves that will produce victories this season.
Athletic Director William Broussard deserves credit for being proactive and focused on the future, but essentially, Southern pointed its ship in the right direction Friday, then removed the rudder and told interim coach Dawson Odums and the staff to start rowing.
There’s plenty of opportunity for the Jaguars to reach the promised land, as they’re only 0-1 in the conference with their hopes of a Southwestern Athletic Conference title still very much alive.
But firing Mitchell now could easily make that journey more complicated.
It starts with the players, and ultimately, that’s who will determine whether this season has a happy ending.
Will they see Mitchell’s dismissal as a wake-up call and start playing the kind of disciplined, exciting football they came into the season expecting? Or will they come out disheartened and despondent, a fractured unit with the same old problems?
That, not a coaching change, will dictate Southern’s season.