Southern Miss Football: Can Jay Hopson win with Golden Eagles?

Southern Mississippi enjoyed a big jump in wins last year, but what will the program do without head coach Todd Monken?

The Golden Eagles lost Todd Monken pretty late in the coaching carousel. A month after Southern Mississippi lost to Washington in its bowl game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling for him to become their offensive coordinator. The move came approximately a week before signing day.

Southern Mississippi has just barely picked it’s new head coach, as sources like the Hattiesburg American reported that Alcorn State’s coach Jay Hopson will be introduced as the new coach at a press conference on Monday. Coach Hopson had previously been with Southern Mississippi as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator.

The Golden Eagles don’t seem to have a great 2016 class, but there are definitely some pieces you want to keep intact. Jay Hopson will hope to make a nice final push in recruiting during the next few days.

The other top candidates for the job, according to Sun Herald, were Florida’s offensive coordinator Doug Nussemeier and Southern Miss’s defensive coordinator David Duggan.

Southern Miss returns a nice group from its 9-4 squad, including quarterback Nick Mullens. The hope is that Hopson can keep the program from falling to the bottom half of Conference USA, where it resided the last few seasons before 2015.

The out of conference schedule sets up the Golden Eagles in tough matches at Kentucky to start the season, and then at LSU in October. Right now I don’t see Southern Miss being the favorite in either, but the two out of conference home games against Austin Peay and Troy are much more manageable.

While the season is still months away, at this point it’s clear that replacing Monken won’t be an easy feat, so I see Southern Miss taking a few steps back in 2016. However, there shouldn’t be too much difficulty in reaching another bowl game with Hopson this year.