Two years ago, the Southern University Jaguars (9-4 overall, 8-2 SWAC) weren’t even eligible to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship because of a ban imposed by the NCAA when the team failed to meet the academic progress rate requirements. The team was also dealing with a coach who just couldn’t get it right and in September of 2012, after losing the first two games of the season, had to deal with another personnel change. Interim coach and defensive coordinator Dawson Odums led the Jaguars to a 4-5 season after taking over, but it was his leadership this season that made the difference.
Fast forward to Saturday, when the Jaguars defeated the Jackson State Tigers 34-27 in a knock-down, drag-out double overtime catfight (no pun intended). Almost 39,000 SWAC fans were on hand at Houston’s Reliant Stadium to see Southern return to SWAC dominance and claim a title that had been elusive since 2003 when the Jaguars defeated Alabama State in Birmingham, Ala.
“Nobody believed we would be in the place we’re in right now,” said Dray Joseph, senior quarterback for Southern. “This is what we worked hard for … getting up at 5:30 in the morning when your body still wants to be in bed and everything else it took. We wanted this.”