All four years the Southern football team has played at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, the Jaguars have helped Northwestern State set an attendance record.
They will get another crack at it Sept. 7 when Southern faces Northwestern State to begin a two-year home-and-home for the schools.
The trip to Natchitoches helps highlight the 2013 football schedule Southern released Tuesday.
Other nonconference action has Southern opening the season at Big East newcomer Houston in late August and facing Clark Atlanta at home two weeks before facing Grambling in the Bayou Classic.
In Southwestern Athletic Conference play, the Jaguars will have Prairie View in the Sept. 14 home opener with later home games against Jackson State, Alabama A&M and Alcorn State; and they will hit the road to face Mississippi Valley State, Texas Southern and Alabama State.
The Bayou Classic is Nov. 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The game against Northwestern State will serve as a homecoming for Southern Athletic Director William Broussard, a four-year letterman in football at NSU who earned All-America honors in 1998 and 1999. Broussard later served as Northwestern State’s associate athletic director under Greg Burke, the longtime athletic director in Natchitoches.
“As much as I care about Greg and as intrigued as I am by the matchup, it was a sensible matchup for us,” Broussard said. “If my alma mater was in California or Minnesota or some place like that, trust me, I wouldn’t have been breaking my back to play them. The Northwestern matchup just made sense.”
Broussard got his first taste of college football against Southern in a 1996 season opener. The loyalty of the Jaguar Nation made as much of an impression on him as the speed of the college game.
“When we scored our first touchdown,” Broussard said, “we got booed.”
Southern and Northwestern met in early season matchups for 10 straight years but have not played since Northwestern State won 30-20 in Shreveport in 2002. The schools split the 10 meetings.
The last meeting of Southern and Northwestern State at Turpin drew a stadium record 17,528 fans, the fourth time in a row the attendance mark had fallen with the Jaguars in town.
Southern and Houston will be meeting in football for the second time. Houston won 55-3 in a 2008 season opener.
First-year Southern coach Dawson Odums said opening against a big-name opponent should give the program some good exposure, and he said he and his staff will take some time during the trip to do some recruiting in the Houston area.
“I just think it’s an exciting game to open the season,” Odums said.
No foe on the Southern schedule is more familiar to Odums than the one the Jaguars will face seven days before the Bayou Classic.
Odums served as Division II Clark Atlanta’s defensive coordinator in 2002 and 2003 and spent 2004 as the interim head coach. The Panthers replace an open date Southern had on the same weekend last year.
The visit by Alcorn on Oct. 26 is the homecoming game.
Odums filling out staff
Odums said he expects to have 10 assistants on his coaching staff this fall, including a graduate assistant on offense and a director of football operations. The staff is essentially complete, but Odums would not release the names of any newcomers because he said those coaches had not yet been officially hired.
Odums has retained five coaches from last year’s coaching staff.
Elvis Joseph returns as the running backs coach, Myron Jackson is back to coach the defensive line and Chad Germany will again coach the quarterbacks. Also, Marty Biagi, who coached Southern’s special teams last season, will return and coach the defensive secondary.
Lionel Mitchell, the son of former Southern coach Stump Mitchell, will be back to help Biagi coach the defensive backs.
Bus trip to Alcorn
The Southern University Sixth Man Club will sponsor its annual bus trip to Lorman, Miss, when the Southern men’s and women’s basketball teams play a doubleheader Jan. 26 at Alcorn State.
The bus will depart at 10:30 a.m. the day of the games and will return immediately after the games have ended. The pickup location is 4523 Plank Road.
The cost is $30 per person and includes the bus ride only. The cost for Southern students is $20.
For information, contact Anna Jones at (225) 907-7212.