USM Must Move On | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

USM Must Move On


Bryan Flynn

It has been nearly six years since Southern Miss replaced Jeff Bower as head coach for its football team. Bower had led the Golden Eagles for 17 seasons, but the fan base was ready for a change.

Bower never won more than nine games, and lost four or more games 12 times. He hadn't finished in the top 25 poll since the 1999 season, and USM let him go after the 2007 season.

Southern Miss finished with a 7-5 or 6-5 record eight times under Bower. Even though Bower finished 9-5 the year before his final season, the program had grown stagnate.

Still, knowing what to expect can be a great thing. You could always write USM down for six to seven wins and a bowl game under Bower, but the program never took the next step. USM supporters thought the program should do better when they brought in Larry Fedora.

In his first three seasons in Hattiesburg, Fedora won seven, seven and eight games. The next year, he took a senior-laden team to a 12-2 record—the best record in Southern Miss history. Fedora parlayed that season into a higher-paying job at North Carolina.

Here is where USM went off the rails: Southern Miss made an uninspired hire in Ellis Johnson, and it led to an uninspired season at 0-12. Johnson is a great defensive coordinator and, by all accounts, a good guy, but he is not head coaching material.

The terrible season led to a talent flight from Hattiesburg and cost Johnson his job.

Southern Miss hired Todd Monken in an attempt to right the ship. It is too early to tell if Monken is the guy or not, especially because he doesn't have a lot to work with right now.

It's strange to see people post on social media that this is what USM gets for firing Bower. Time makes us remember the past fondly—the same fans who probably wanted Bower fired now remember winning games and going to a bowl.

Southern Miss had high hopes to become the Boise State of the south, if they could only find their Chris Petersen.

Maybe Monken is that guy. Either way, Bower is not coming back. Southern Miss fans need to stop worrying about the past and focus on the future.

I agreed with letting Bower go. It was time to move on. Now it is time for USM fans to move on as well.

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myndtheef 5 years, 11 months ago

Being a USM graduate, USM football fan, and Hattiesburg resident, I would like to correct the argument that the fan base wanted a change. You can ask nearly anyone here and they will tell you that Jeff Bower's departure (ousting?) was due to a disgruntled, loud, financially viable minority. They didn't agree with Bower's policy of benching players who were not making grades, among other policies. If you see Bower around town, he'll tell you that he's very happy and does not want to come back to coach at USM. Those days are in the past. The fans, however, would GLADLY take him back.

I believe Monken is safe this year, but he really needs to do some amazing recruiting during the off-season if we are going to continue to be able to play at the Division I collegiate level. I'm pretty sure most of the fans have written off this season also, but I'm still willing to blame this season on Ellis Johnson and Richard Giannini.


Belvedere 5 years, 11 months ago

Oh, these kinds of losing streaks happen sometimes in college football. Just hang in there, USM, never give up, keep practicing, roll with the punches, and one day something good will happen.


js1976 5 years, 11 months ago

myndtheef, as a USM grad myself, I have yet to meet anyone that wanted Bower gone.

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