Now that each of the open SWAC head football coaching vacancies have been filled, it’s time to attempt to make sense of it all.
Of the four hires (Rick Comegy, Harold Jackson, James Spady and Broderick Fobbs) only two had previous head coaching experience at any level of college football prior to joining their respective schools, which should make for an interest 2014 season. So this begs the obvious question: Which school, before a game has been played, made the best hire?
4. Harold Jackson – Jackson State
Harold Jackson has the most overall football experience and knowledge of any coach in the conference. Jackson played more than a decade in the NFL and also was an assistant at the pro and collegiate levels as well.
However, he’s been out of the college game for six years and only had a pair of unimpressive brief stints as a head coach at the Division II level in the mid-90s. While Jackson might be privy to more X’s and O’s than anyone else in the SWAC, his age 68, might also be a hindrance since he is expected to win now and it doesn’t appear (with a three-year contract) that he will be in it for the long haul.
The Jackson State hire of Jackson is somewhat surprising for two reasons:
-He’s reportedly being paid $260,000 a season – one of the highest yearly salaries in the FCS – even though Jackson doesn’t have the head coach, recruiting or college coordinator resume to justify such investment. Normally coaches who have success as defensive, offensive or special teams coordinators are worthy suitors if they haven’t been a head coach elsewhere first.
-We just don’t know whether Jackson is better than Rick Comegy (who we will discuss later), who only had one losing season in eight years and made four trips to the SWAC Championship Game. Jackson has never led a team to any sort of championship as a position or head coach at any stop.
A lot of pressure will be on Jackson and JSU in 2014 to make this work.
3. Broderick Fobbs – Grambling State
Fobbs replaces interim head coach Dennis “Dirt” Winston, who took over the program on Oct. 18. Winston became the program’s third head coach in the same season; proceeded by George Ragsdale and Doug Williams.
Fobbs played running back for Grambling in the late 1990s under legendary head coach Eddie Robinson. He now enters a situation where there was mutiny within the team, school administration and university. Fobbs also inherits a program that hasn’t done much winning since it won the SWAC title in 2011. But Fobbs, at 39, is expected to be a program builder. So, this figures to be a long-term relationship as Grambling isn’t projected to win immediately.
2. James Spady – Alabama A&M
Before arriving at Nevada in 2009, Spady served three seasons as offensive coordinator at Grambling and one year as offensive line coach at North Carolina Central.
Spady takes over a bunch that has historically had just enough talent to seriously compete for a conference championship. Alabama A&M needed a makeover on offense, and Spady’s experience in constructing an offensive system will go a long way in the Bulldogs improvement in 2014. Spady also helped his cause by hiring former Mississippi Valley State head coach Willie Totten as quarterbacks coach.
1. Rick Comegy – Mississippi Valley State
A 55-35 record and a SWAC championship over eight seasons wasn’t enough to keep Rick Comegy at Jackson State. After being fired by JSU in December, Comegy will replace Karl Morgan as Mississippi Valley State’s 16th head coach.
It is safe to say based on overall resume, that MVSU made the best hire of any school that was in need of a head coach. Comegy has won everywhere he’s been. Black national championships and a SWAC title are evidence of that. This hire makes sense for both Comegy and MVSU for a couple of reasons:
-Comegy is an excellent recruiter.
-Comegy is accustomed to building a program.
-Comegy is familiar with working at a level where resources are limited.
-Comegy has a relationship with the SWAC as it currently stands.
Although it is been well-documented that MVSU has the lowest recruiting budget of any school in the conference, Comegy has proven he can work the junior college circuit to find players if need be. He found Casey Therriault, who was one of the most decorated quarterbacks in JSU history by the time he finished his two-year career. Jimmy Oliver, another Comegy quarterback find, helped win a SWAC championship in 2007.
If the university can increase their football scholarship numbers, there doesn’t seem any reason to not believe Comegy can’t improve the Delta Devils in short order within the next few years.