HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hey, Golden Eagle football fans.
There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Will Hall.
Hall, the Mississippi Kid who grew up with a football in his bassinet and learned to read from the sports page, formally was introduced as the University of Southern Mississippi’s 22nd football coach Monday morning.
In the past, some had arrived in his place at the podium like gangbusters, full of promises and prophecies.
Hall came into Reed Green Coliseum like a F-14A Tomcat buzzing the tower.
He offered no promises. He issued only statements of fact to be reviewed at some point in the future.
“I can’t wait to get us back to the top where we’re supposed to be,” Hall said.
“No more excuses.”
USM has one more game to go in 2020 season that has seen the Golden Eagles led by three different coaches. Jay Hopson resigned after one game, leaving the program in the hands of interims.
First came Scotty Walden, who left after four games to become head coach at Austin Peay State University, followed by current interim Tim Billings.
Thursday, the Golden Eagles bring the curtain down on a season altogether forgettable yet memorable in a twisted, tormented way.
After that, the Will Hall Era takes center stage, and if you want a seat on this train, you better jump aboard.
Terms of a contract were not available Monday, but USM athletic director Jeremy McClain said Hall will have a four-year deal coming out of the chute.
Hall has been surrounded by winning for most of his life.
A trio of Bobbys _ Hall, Franklin, Wallace _ along with Scott Maxwell, Mark Hudspeth and Willie Fritz comprised a coaching collective that shaped his style, his approach, his philosophy, not only on the sideline, but in the locker room and off the field.
But he also touched on coaches from USM’s past, Vann, Collins, Carmody, Bower, and spoke of them personally and not just as names on a list that had been handed to him a few hours before his introduction.
“We’re fixin’ to get this thing goin’ again like those men had it going back then, and it’s fixin’ to happen fast, so you better get ready,” Hall said.
Hall came in with a plan for what his players can expect, ticking off four points, with academics first, followed by athletics.
“From the moment these kids get in this program, they will be expected to get a degree,” Hall said. “That’s non-negotiable.
“Athletically, we’re going to win. We’re going to get back to winning conference championships and putting people in the NFL,” Hall said.
The two other pegs, character and developing plans for the future, spoke to shaping players into responsible men with a degree in hand who have an end game coming out of USM.
“Toughness is not going into a bar and winning a bar fight,” Hall said. “A real man with real toughness is how many times can you wake up and this world throw adversity at you, this world punch you right in the nose, and yet you still wake up and handle your responsibilities and your obligations for the people who are counting on you every day?”
Hall knows the program. He knows the issues. He was around when USM flexed muscle and ruled as much roost as it could.
He pulled aside the curtain a bit Monday in an inspiring admonishment of what he expects from those who claim to be USM faithful.
“No more excuses,” Hall said. “We’ve got all the resources here to be special. We’ve got everything we need to get back to being the best football-playing Group of Five school in the United States of America. But, guys, we’ve got to band together.
“We’re a little bit frayed right now. You know it. I know it. Believe in what I’m about to do. I’ve got a vision and a very detailed plan, but I need you. I need you to go out and get everybody else banded together. We need to grab ahold of this rope and pull on it together.”