Jackson State interim head coach John Hendrick addressed the media for the first time on Monday just a day after the firing for former head coach Tony Hughes.
Hendrick, who made an appearance during the weekly SWAC coaches teleconference on Monday described the atmosphere surrounding the program 24 hours after being thrust into a new position.
“Coach Hughes was beloved by the players on this team, and it was a tough situation for us and even guys on staff, the coaches,” Hendrick said. “All of us were affected adversely by the news. Yesterday was really somber.”
Hughes, who was let go after JSU lost 41-7 to Southern last Saturday, was 9-20 overall as head coach.
Hendrick, the Tigers’ defensive coordinator before being elevated into his current new role, said wholesale changes would not be made, especially with only days to prepare for Prairie View A&M, its next opponent, on Saturday.
“It’s hard in midstream to make wholesale changes,” he said. “There will be some tweaks to get more enthusiasm and to be more efficient on offense.”
Jackson State (3-4, 2-2 SWAC) is ninth in the conference in total offense, averaging 15.4 points per game.
Though Jackson State is still mathematically in the SWAC East race, just one game back in the loss column to first-place Alcorn State, Hendrick said a coaching change in the middle of the season historically produces mixed results.
“It’s a difficult proposition,” said Hendrick, who said he “had no idea” why the Jackson State administration tabbed him for the interim post. “I’ve seen some things and been a part of mid-season changes. It is a tough situation. Usually, they’re done because things aren’t going well. Sometimes it infuses energy, sometimes it doesn’t.”