Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jackson State/Mississippi Valley State Football Coaching Carousel Ends With Hirings of Jackson and Comegys


The Jackson State/Mississippi Valley State head football coaching carousel has now ended as both schools have hired distinguished football coaches over the past week.

Jackson State hired Harold Jackson, the former Tiger receiver who went on to a great NFL playing career and long assistant coaching career in the NFL and college ranks.
Jackson State head coach Harold Jackson (Photo by Jackson St Athletics)

“I’m going to put the excitement and product on the field,” Jackson said. “Our players will have discipline in the classroom and on the competition level. Our football players will be developed as good citizens.”

The Jackson State job came open unexpectedly after Rick Comegy was let go by Jackson State, even as he led the team to an 8-4 season and a double-overtime loss to Southern in the SWAC title game in December.  Comegy was 55-35 in his eight seasons in rebuilding the JSU football program.  He only had one losing season at Jackson State and was 164-86 overall,(with only five losing seasons in 22 years) in head coaching stints at JSU, Tuskegee, Central State and Cheney. 

Instead of being about wins and losses, it was about grade point averages.  Several years ago, the program's NCAA Academic Progress Rate had hovered around the 900 threshold where NCAA sanctions become a possibility.  That rate had risen some during Comegy's tenure after being below 900 in 2008.

"This decision wasn't just about wins and losses," said Jackson State spokesman Eric Stringfellow told reporters. "This is about the direction of the program. This is about our student athletes, putting them in position to be successful in the classroom and wherever else they'll be.

"This isn't just about wins and losses," he said. "If you've done your homework, you can see that coach Comegy has had some success. This is about the direction of the program and about our student-athletes, putting them in position to be successful."

Out went Comegy and in comes Jackson at Jackson State.

But Comegy wouldn't be available for long.  Mississippi Valley State fired Karl Morgan in early December after a 2-9 2013 season and an 8-35 record in four seasons.  According to sources, new Mississippi Valley State president William Bynum was looking at Morehouse College head coach Rich Freeman.  Despite a 2-8 record in an injury-deluged 2013, Freeman had gone 28-13 in the previous four seasons at Morehouse, where Bynum was a vice president before coming to Mississippi Valley State.

Then Comegy came available.  He was hired this past week.

MSVU President William Bynum and head coach Rick Comegy (Photo by MVSU)
"I want to build a program here where a team is consistently winning every year," Comegy said at his news conference.  "It takes a while to build a program, but if we can get some guys who are committed, a staff that is committed, I can tell we have a city that's committed, and I honestly believe that it won't take that long to build a program ...Once those little things get done, we will build a winner. It will be a consistent winner.

"I think I can do a lot of good here," he added. 

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