Last week, Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett and head football coach Jay Hopson appeared to be at odds. It started with Hopson interviewing former Baylor coach Art Briles for the offensive coordinator position on his staff. Later, Bennett released a statement saying that Briles had interviewed, but was no longer being considered for the position.
“We have met with Art Briles regarding a position with the Southern Miss football program. Following that meeting, we informed him that he is not a candidate. The University will have no further comment on this matter.”
That led to this statement that Hopson shared directly with FootballScoop.
“Although I respect the decision of Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it. I am so grateful for the Grace & forgiveness God gives me which allows me to inherit his kingdom, which I do not deserve. I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position @ Southern Miss & I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance. He is a man that seemed sincere & humble in his interview & personally he committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol, but that would be my JOB at Southern Miss! He was interviewing for an assistant position, even though I believe he will be a Head Coach at a Major Program in the near future . However, I believe he is a man who does love the Lord and deserves a second chance. He has been banned from employment in college football for 3yrs and has been punished. I understand both sides have opinions, this is just mine! God bless – Jay Hopson”
With the two parties clearly not seeing eye to eye, that led to some chatter about the strained relationship and the future direction of the football program.
Monday, President Bennet shared, via the Sun Herald, that he and Hopson spoke a number of times last week and also met over the weekend to discuss the future of the football program.
According to Patrick Magee, the statement shared;
“Coach Hopson assured me of his commitment to overseeing a program that upholds the values of The University of Southern Mississippi. I know Coach Hopson to be a man of high ethics and integrity, and I assured him of the University’s dedication to continuing a winning tradition.”
After interviewing Briles and after Hopson’s statement last week, The Athletic published a report stating that Hopson actively recruited players with questionable pasts in regards to sexual assault charges and allegations. President Bennett shared the following in his statement, which seemed to address that report.
“Our conversation included many topics, including the events of the past week. As a matter of practice, Coach Hopson seeks approval from and works in good faith with athletic administration on prospective student athletes who have special or unique circumstances for admission to the University, which is consistent with University protocol in student-athlete recruitment.”
“I consider the matter closed, and I am looking forward to working with Coach Hopson on our mutual priorities and shared goals for the Southern Miss football program and how it contributes to our vision for The University of Southern Mississippi.”
Hopson is entering year four at Southern Miss, where he has put together finishes of 7-6, 8-5, and 6-5 the last three seasons.