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Steve Campbell of FCS Central Arkansas hired by South Alabama to fill coaching vacancy

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Another down, four to go.

On Nov. 20, Joey Jones, the only head coach the program has ever had, stepped down at South Alabama.  Just over two weeks later, the Sun Belt Conference school announced that Steve Campbell has been hired to lead the Jaguars’ football program.

“I was born and raised in this area, just down the road outside of Pensacola, and have always felt that if South Alabama started football it would be a gold mine, a place where the sky is the limit and you can definitely compete for championships at the highest level,” said the 51-year-old Campbell. “Coach Jones did a terrific job of getting the program started and laying a tremendous foundation. This is an opportunity to get back home and, more than that, to take what Joey has started and raise it to the next level and win some championships.”

Campbell comes to USA from Central Arkansas, where he went 33-15 during his four seasons with the FCS school.  He’s also previously served as the head coach at Div. II Delta State.

Campbell is taking over a program that will enter just its seventh season as an FBS program next season.  In Jones’ last season, the Jaguars went 4-8.  They had qualified for a bowl game in two of the previous three seasons.

With Campbell’s hiring, it leaves Kent State, Louisiana, Oregon and Louisiana as the only FBS schools still searching for a head coach.

New Mexico State going bowling for first time in nearly six decades

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Well, we think they are going bowling, probably

New Mexico State needed a Week 14 win over South Alabama to get to six wins and become bowl-eligible; after a little bit of a dicey fourth quarter, the Aggies did just that as they escaped with a 22-17 win over the Jaguars.

NMSU entered the fourth quarter with a 13-7 lead, then stretched it to 16-7 very early in the period.  A Cole Garvin 17-yard touchdown pass brought USA to within two points at 16-14, then the Jaguars took their first lead since the first quarter on a 27-yard Gavin Patterson field goal.

However, a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Rogers, who finished with 451 yards passing, with 32 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winning score.

NMSU, in its last season as a member of the Sun Belt, will now likely go to a bowl game for the first time since the 1960 season.  While there was some concern last month that financial considerations could potentially make them turn down a postseason bid, it’s likely that they will receive an Arizona Bowl invitation Sunday afternoon and make that a moot point.

Joey Jones steps down as South Alabama head coach

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There’s never a good time to lose a football game 52-0, but even by that scale it’s an especially bad thing to lose 52-0 in a game you had to win to keep your bowl hopes alive to a team so disgusted by its own season that it fired its head coach a month ago.

That’s what South Alabama did on Saturday in dropping a 52-0 decision to Georgia Southern, giving the Eagles their first win of the season.

And on Monday, South Alabama announced head coach Joey Jones will resign following the Jaguars’ Dec. 2 finale at New Mexico State.

“There comes a time in every program where there is a need for change.  For this program that I love so much, that time is now,” Jones said in a statement.  “One of the proudest days of my professional life was being the named the first head coach at South Alabama.  Today is difficult, but it is the right step for me, my family and for this football program.”

Jones is the only head coach South Alabama has ever known, hired Feb. 15, 2008. He led the Jags for three seasons as an FCS Independent before joining the Sun Belt in 2012, taking the club to bowl games in 2014 and 2016.

The loss Saturday dropped the program to 4-7 this season, ending hopes of returning to a bowl game for the first time in the program’s short history.

“Joey Jones is the father of our football program.  He, his wife Elise and his entire family put their arms around the program and committed to its establishment and growth,” said AD Dr. Joel Erdmann.  “He has placed South Alabama Football on strong footing, which is something he and his family can be very proud of and we sincerely appreciate.  His good, hard work and commitment will forever be recognized.”

South Alabama makes change at offensive coordinator

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Another college football coordinator has been given his pink slip before hitting October. This time it is South Alabama offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent. On Monday morning, South Alabama announced Vincent has been relieved of his duties effective immediately.

“Sunday afternoon Coach Vincent came to me and expressed concern about our current status and what is best for our program moving forward.  After meeting with him, a decision was made to relieve him of his duties,” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said in a released statement.  “Bryant is a great friend and has always had the best interests of our student-athletes in mind.  I sincerely appreciate all of his hard work.  I wish him the very best.”

Who will serve as the offensive coordinator will be moving forward has not been clarified by the school at this time. Vincent was also South Alabama’s quarterback coach too. Jones may just take on the playcalling himself for the remainder of the season if he does not promote anyone on the staff to the position.

South Alabama’s offense ranks 91st in the nation in scoring offense and is 130th in the nation (out of 130) in third-down conversions with just nine third-down conversions out of 45 attempts. The Jaguars dropped a home game against Idaho on Saturday, 29-23 to fall to 1-3 with the lone win coming against Alabama A&M. The first two losses of the year, however, came against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State, so it’s not as though South Alabama was expected to be too much better than they are at this point after four weeks of play.

ACC, SEC place most DBs on Jim Thorpe Award watch list

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Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.

This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12.  Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.

Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award.  The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.  All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.