Part 21: Jay Hopson Era Begins at Southern Miss

After back-to-back SWAC titles with the Braves of Alcorn State, Jay Hopson returns to Southern Miss for the third time. This time, as head football coach.

The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.

Jay Hopson Introduced Monday as 21st Southern Miss Football Coach

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Jay Hopson, a 24-year coaching veteran on the collegiate level and twice previously a member of the Golden Eagle coaching staff, met with media and fans Monday afternoon at his introductory news conference as the new Southern Miss football coach.

Hopson, who accepted the position Saturday, became the school’s 21st head football coach as the program embarks on its 100th playing season this fall.

“Coach Hopson brings some very special qualities and key assets to our program,” said Southern Miss Director of Athletics Bill McGillis. “In addition to the integrity, core values and leadership skills he will bring to Southern Miss, Coach Hopson’s extraordinary experience and the success he achieved while transforming the Alcorn State football program; his deep Mississippi roots; and his pedigree, which includes having served six terrific years as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Miss, made him the right MATCH to lead our storied program. His passion for, and commitment to, the Golden Eagle program is beyond question. Jay Hopson is ALL about the Black and Gold.”

A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Hopson returns to Southern Miss after a successful four-year stint as the head coach at Alcorn State. During his tenure there, Hopson led the Braves to a 32-17 record and consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference championships the last two seasons. Alcorn State also recorded at least nine victories in each of the last three seasons, including a 10-3 mark in 2014 and following this season, Hopson led the Braves to the inaugural Celebration Bowl, a postseason football bowl featuring two standout programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

His team also captured the SBN Black College Championship in 2014.

Prior to his arrival at Lorman, Hopson worked as linebackers coach for two seasons at Michigan (2008-09) and worked as defensive coordinator at Memphis during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns.

“It truly is a special honor and privilege to be the head coach at Southern Miss,” said Hopson. “This is a dream job for me, a destination job for me. I have spent six wonderful years here and hope to spend the rest of my coaching career here at Southern Miss and I am blessed as this is a University that I love from the bottom of my heart. I’m just ready to get to work.”

Hopson returns to Southern Miss after working as an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles from 2001-03 (defensive backs) and then again from 2005-07 (linebackers, defensive coordinator).

Hopson’s defensive units led Conference USA in scoring defense each of his three seasons as defensive coordinator. In 2006, the Golden Eagles led C-USA in third down defense and red zone defense while his 2005 unit led the league in turnovers forced per game as well as led the nation in fumbles gained.

During his first stint with the Golden Eagles, the defensive unit led the nation in fewest passing touchdowns allowed and finished fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense in 2002. Southern Miss led C-USA and finished fifth nationally in pass defense during the 2003 season and each year during that stretch, Southern Miss ranked in the Top 15 nationally in scoring defense.

Hopson spent 2004 at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, as defensive backs coach and was the program’s recruiting coordinator. The Rebels’ pass defense improved from 109th nationally in 2003 to 49th during the 2004 campaign.

Hopson’s coaching experience also includes positions at Marshall (1996-2000) and Delta State (1993) as defensive backs coach. He was a member of the Herds’ 1996 NCAA I-AA National Championship staff and coached the team to four straight Mid-American Conference championships. Hopson also held defensive graduate assistant positions at the Florida (1995), LSU (1994) and Tulane (1992). He helped the Gators to the Southeastern Conference championship and played for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl.

He earned four-year letters and received the 1991 John Howard Vaught Award as a player at Ole Miss. A CoSIDA Academic All-American, Hopson graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in business administration (1992) and received a master’s of health in physical education and recreation from Delta State (1994).

Hopson and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Virginia and Hannah.

Jay Hopson File
Date of Birth: Oct. 13, 1968
Hometown:  Vicksburg, Miss.
Education: Ole Miss, ’92 (bachelor’s), Delta State, ’94 (Master’s)
Years at Southern Miss: 6 seasons as an assistant coach
Years in Coaching: 24

Coaching Career

2016                    Southern Miss    Head Coach
2012-2015            Alcorn State       Head Coach
2010-2011            Memphis            Defensive Coordinator
2008-2009            Michigan            Linebackers Coach
2006-2007            Southern Miss    Defensive Coordinator/ Middle Linebackers
2005                    Southern Miss    Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs
2004                    Ole Miss            Defensive Backs
2001-2003            Southern Miss    Defensive Backs
1996-2000            Marshall             Defensive Backs
1995                    Florida               Graduate Assistant/Offensive Scout Team/ Special Teams
1994                    LSU                   Graduate Assistant/Defensive Backs/ Offensive Scout Team
1993                    Delta State         Defensive Backs
1992                    Tulane                Graduate Assistant/Offensive Scout Team/Special Teams/Video Breakdown

Bowl/Playoff Experience

2015: Celebration Bowl
2015: SWAC Championship Game
SWAC Championship Game
2007: Bowl
New Orleans Bowl
New Orleans Bowl
Liberty Bowl
Houston Bowl
Motor City Bowl
Motor City Bowl
Motor City Bowl
Motor City Bowl
NCAA I-AA National Champions
Fiesta Bowl

What They are Saying About Jay Hopson…

Jeff Bower, former Southern Miss football coach (1990-2007)
“We are getting an outstanding coach – a player’s coach. A man of integrity, character, and hard worker who will do whatever it takes to put his players in a position to be successful. He has a unique way of communicating with his players. Jay can be tough when he needs to be, but also knows when to pass out a pat on the back. He knows how to prepare a team to get them to work hard and to design a great game plan. He was a part of our success as one of my assistants, and because of his roots in the state of Mississippi, he knows the type of guys you need to be successful at Southern Miss. We all need to do get behind Jay to do what we can to help him be successful. I am proud of Bill McGillis for a great decision.”

David Cutcliffe, former Ole Miss coach (1998-2004) and Duke head coach (2008-pres.)
“Congratulations to Jay and his family for earning the opportunity to return to Southern Miss. His past experiences in Hattiesburg make this a natural fit, and I know he’ll surround himself with good people and provide quality leadership for the Southern Miss program. His success as a head coach at Alcorn State has been well documented. Twenty-eight wins with two division championships over the past three seasons is just incredible. We wish him the best of luck.”

Curley Hallman, former Southern Miss football coach (1988-90) and LSU Coach (1990-94)
“I’m really excited and proud that Jay Hopson is the new coach at Southern Miss. He is a guy that has traveled the world of college coaching and has learned a lot from every coach in every situation that he has worked with. His success wherever he has been, and most recently at Alcorn State, shows how good a coach he is. This is a thrill for me, especially for him to come back to Southern Miss. I always knew he would turn out to be an outstanding coach. His temperament allows him to be cool in any situation and he’s a people person who is always eager to learn how to make himself and his team better. There is no question that he loves the game of football and he’ll bring that love of the game to Southern Miss. I am as happy for Jay to have gotten this job as anything that I have heard of in a long time.”

Bob Pruett, former Marshall head coach (1996-04)
“He played for me when I coached him at Ole Miss. He was a graduate assistant for me at Tulane and the University of Florida. I brought him to Marshall with me to coach. He coached for me and did an excellent job coaching, recruiting, and relating to the players. You’ve done an outstanding job (hiring Jay Hopson). I personally am very impressed. I have two grandsons that graduated from Southern Miss with honors. My son graduated from Southern Miss. With Hopson, you have a true fan now of Southern Miss.”

Rich Rodriguez, former Michigan head coach (2008-10) and Arizona head coach (2012-pres.)
“Jay was an outstanding member of my staff at Michigan. He is a great person and a very talented coach that I was proud to have as part of our program. He will do great things at Southern Miss and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

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