By MIKE McCALL
September 30, 2012
During what would be his final news conference as Southern’s football coach, Stump Mitchell laid out the mission for his team for the rest of the season.
“My team, they just have to come out and keep working hard, and hopefully things will swing our way,” he said following the Jaguars’ 6-0 loss to Mississippi Valley State. “The team that won the SWAC championship last year was in a similar situation, but they did win the SWAC championship.”
That was a reference to Grambling, which started 1-4 in 2011 before winning seven straight to claim the conference crown. SU’s task is not as lopsided record-wise, but the Jaguars will have to overcome a disappointing start and coaching shake-up.
Rather than Mitchell leading the turnaround, it will be first-year defensive coordinator Dawson Odums, who took over as interim coach Friday.
Athletic Director William Broussard made it clear that in shipping off Mitchell and promoting Odums, he is not forfeiting the season.
Even after the MVSU loss — only the third defeat against Valley in 21 years and the first shutout since 1996 — Southern sits in a four-way tie for second place in the SWAC West division. Because the leader, 1-0 Texas Southern, is ineligible for postseason play, the Jaguars are technically tied for first.
“I want [players] to continue to remain committed to the program, and we’re going to continue to throw the full support of the administration behind them,” Broussard said. “We’re still committed to their success as students and athletes.”
Odums is now entering his second stint as an interim head coach. He did the same at Division II Clark Atlanta in 2004, then departed for a three-year tour as defensive line coach at Bethune-Cookman.
From there, he spent three seasons at North Carolina A&T, rising to defensive coordinator before joining Southern in 2011 as defensive line coach.
He was promoted to SU’s defensive coordinator before this season.
As an experienced leader on the defensive side of the ball, Odums will be charged with steadying the program and continuing to develop his unit, which showed drastic improvement between the opening loss to New Mexico and Thursday’s defeat to MVSU.
As for who will take over Mitchell’s play-calling duties, that remains to be seen and will likely be announced next week.
Offensive line coach Paul Lounsberry currently serves as the running game coordinator.
Quarterbacks coach Chad Germany and receivers coach Jorge Baez are co-passing game coordinators.
While Broussard said the rest of this season isn’t strictly a trial for Odums to land a full-time job, he does plan to monitor all of the coaches’ progress before beginning a full-fledged coaching search.
“Officially the search will commence at the end of the football season,” Broussard said. “It will give us some time to evaluate the coaching staff and take a closer look at what kind of progress we make for the rest of the season.”