HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLOX) - No one could’ve predicted a division one head football coach - Jay Hopson - stepping down after the first week of the college football season. Same could be said for everything that has happened in 2020, but you have to roll with the punches.
You hear it all the time in sports, “NEXT MAN UP!” That next man for Southern Miss is co-offensive coordinator Scotty Walden, who will take over as interim head coach.
Walden has been with the program since 2017 as the wide receivers coach, but prior to coming to Hattiesburg he was the youngest head coach in all of NCAA football at Division three East Texas Baptist University in 2016.
At 30-years-old, Walden’s energetic personality is much needed for a Golden Eagle team that have the pieces to be a contender in Conference USA’s west division.
“I just talked to them about embracing the moment, embracing right now what we have. It’s all we’ve got. I told them we’ve got to go, we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to keep rolling. We’re going to have fun, we’re going to play fast, play hard, we’re going to make it about you,” Walden reiterated to local media on a Zoom call Wednesday about how he addressed the team after the news of Jay Hopson’s resignation.
“It’s about the kids, it ain’t about us right now it’s about keeping it together for them. Regardless of our future, regardless of anything, it’s about them and we’re going to keep it that way. I firmly believe that as a coach championship programs are player-driven programs, not coach-driven programs. That doesn’t mean a coach ain’t involved, but that means that when things are driven by the players in terms of getting guys right, energy, and attitude then you’re going to have a championship football team. They responded really well in my opinion. They were yes sir, no sir, they were looking me in the eyes. Fired up, ready to go, understanding the schedule and we had a good practice that night.”
Golden Eagles are off this week, but will suit up next Saturday, September 19th to host Louisiana Tech.
UPDATE TO LOUISIANA TECH GAME
Louisiana Tech have to postpone their season opener against Baylor on Saturday because at least 36 players tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports, the outbreak comes in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which eliminated power in 90-percent of the area for 7-10 days. That prompted many players to move elsewhere and made social distancing difficult. Before the storm, Louisiana Tech had just one positive case in the past three weeks, Yahoo reported.
Southern Miss are set to host LA Tech in just ten days. As of Wednesday, Coach Walden says the Golden Eagles first Conference USA matchup is still happening.