Players, coaches laud Dawson Odums’ return to Southern

Just a few days after securing its first conference title in 10 years, the Southern football program secured its leader for the foreseeable future Thursday by agreeing to a three-year contract extension with coach Dawson Odums.

Odums had received interest from his alma mater, North Carolina Central. But, with a hefty raise coming his way, Odums decided to remain with the Jaguars after, in his first full season, he led them to a 9-4 record and a 34-27 double-overtime win over Jackson State in the SWAC title game.

The news of Odums’ decision came as a positive for the coaching staff, current players, incoming recruits and Athletic Director William Broussard.

Broussard said that not only would Southern benefit from retaining the North Carolina native, but Odums likewise would benefit from staying on The Bluff.

“That is only one tie,” Broussard said of Odums’ connections to North Carolina Central. “There’s more to be considered than the tie to your alma mater. Coach Odums has short-term and long-term aspirations as a football coach. I offered to him that he could achieve those with a better degree of reliability being the head coach of Southern.”

Southern now appears to have stability for years to come.

“It’s stressful changing coaches because you never know what you’re going to get from the new coach,” said graduating senior Omar Cook, who played under Pete Richardson, Stump Mitchell and Odums. “I’ve been through three head coaches, and I know how hard it is to go through. But it’s just great for the young guys that they are going to have the same coach through their years.”

Current players and coaches said Odums’ decision to stay exemplifies the type of character he displays daily.

“I’m happy,” junior offensive lineman Dwayne Houston said. “I’m glad he’s staying some extra years. I kind of figured that he would.”

Safety Dionte McDuffy said Odums’ decision to remain at Southern proves he is trying to build something special.

“It shows that he really loves it here and that he’s trying to build a program at Southern,” he said. “And he’s doing his best to help turn around the adversity that’s been going on at Southern in the past.”

Secondary coach and special teams coordinator Marty Biagi said Odums’ decision is a victory for everyone involved with the program.

“This decision was all up to him, and he just kept telling us that if you do what is right, things normally work out,” he said. “I think it’s exciting for Jaguar Nation because they saw the product that he can put on the field. Overall, I just think it’s a win for everybody.”

Perhaps the most anxious of those awaiting Odums’ announcement were the incoming recruits — including Jared Hayes of Central, who just last week announced his intentions to play at Southern.

“I was hoping he would stay because he’s the one I talked to and he recruited me, but it wouldn’t have really impacted my decision,” Hayes said. “I was relieved to find out he was staying.”

But to Biagi, it’s all about stability.

“I think any time you can keep continuity in a program, it’s a big win,” he said. “I think everyone should be on board, and if they are not on board, they need to get on board. It’s going to be a fun ride.”