The Jay Hopson era is over at Southern Miss.
"Coach Hopson came to me after last Thursday's game to discuss what was on his heart and after much discussion over the weekend, he and I agreed that new leadership for our football program is needed," said McClain. "Coach Hopson has been a part of our program for 10 years. I appreciate his commitment to Southern Miss and wish Jay and his family nothing but the best."
Hopson was named the school’s 21st head football coach prior to the school’s 100th season in football in 2016. His overall record at Southern Miss finishes at 28-23, with a C-USA record of 20-12. His overall head coaching record stands at 60-40.
His first two stints at Southern Miss came as an assistant coach came from 2001-03 (defensive backs) and then again from 2005-07 (linebackers, defensive coordinator).
In Hopson’s first season as head coach, he took the Golden Eagles to a 7-6 record, a third-place finish in the C-USA, and an R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl 28-21 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette. The most notable win of the season was a 44-35 victory over Kentucky, their first victory over an SEC program since 2000.
The Golden Eagles’ highest finish in the C-USA West came in 2018 when they finished second. After 2016’s bowl win, Southern Miss went to two more bowl games (2017, 2019) where they were defeated in both games.
In his first four seasons, Hopson oversaw 11 Conference USA first-team selections and coached four former Golden Eagles that have been taken in the National Football League draft, including Quez Watkins, who was a sixth-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles last April.
"After heartfelt discussion with Jeremy, we have come to a mutual agreement for me to step down as head coach. I am in total agreement with this change in leadership and truly believe it is in the best interest of the players, coaches and this entire program," said Hopson. "I cannot thank Dr. Bennett and our administration enough for the opportunity that they gave me. I wish Southern Miss nothing but the best and am thankful for all that they have done for me and my family."
Hopson resigns after a 32-21 loss to South Alabama. The Golden Eagles also had several key players opt out of the season over the summer months citing COVID-19 and other issues.
Hopson had little to say in his opening statement after the loss to South Alabama which was their first road victory in three seasons.
“Nothing much to say. It was a disappointing loss, and certainly not a good game.”
Scotty Walden will take over as interim head coach moving forward.
Walden is in his fourth season at Southern Miss, including his second year as co-offensive coordinator, as well as wide receivers coach. He came to Southern Miss after spending a season as the head football coach at Division III East Texas Baptist University. ETBU compiled a 7-3 record under Walden and led the country in scoring offense at 49.9 points per game, while finishing second in total offense (564.3 yards per game) and sixth in passing offense (365.3 yards per game).
Walden took over as head coach at ETBU after serving three years as the school's offensive coordinator. Prior to ETBU, Walden was offensive coordinator at Sul Ross State in 2012.