Alcorn made the correct decision

Published 12:20 am Sunday, December 20, 2009

I’m sure most Alcorn State fans remember what was going on with the football program about this time last year.

To put it mildly, it was chaos.

Seven assistant coaches were fired without the knowledge of the head coach. Then, after the head coach threatened to sue the school, the assistants were reinstated, and then the head coach, Ernest Jones, was fired himself.

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Through all of the turmoil, one man stood out and was left with picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild what had been torn down.

That man was Earnest Collins. Collins, was the defensive coordinator under Jones and was named interim head coach after Jones was fired.

Collins might have only been just that, an interim, if some senior football players hadn’t met with Alcorn State President George Ross and convinced him to make Collins the head coach on a permanent basis.

So Collins was given the job full-time, but only received a one-year contract, which put him in a tough situation from the outset.

Most coaches don’t operate on one-year contracts, and schools usually extend a coach’s contract before it comes down to the last year because they don’t want the coach to be seen as a lame duck.

If a coach has just a one-year contract, the players know he might not be around next year, which could hurt the work ethic and morale of the team.

But Collins didn’t complain. A devoutly religion man, Collins always said he would go wherever the Lord led him and go through any situation with the Lord’s help.

Perhaps that is what allowed Collins to perform so well this past year. Picked to finish last in the SWAC East Division, the Braves, finished in second place, and were just one victory shy of winning the division and playing in ASU’s first ever SWAC Championship Game.

And, even more important for Alcorn fans, the Braves beat Jackson State for the first time since 2006, winning 14-7 in the season finale.

But even with Alcorn’s good performance on the football field this past year, there was no guarantee that Collins would be back.

After all, the Braves administration hasn’t always been known to make what seemed to be the best decision.

And, there is a power vacuum at the university now, with Ross having resigned as president and Brenda Square operating as an interim athletic director following the resignation of Darren Hamilton earlier this year.

But in her first major decision as athletic director, Square made the absolute right decision by giving Collins a three-year contract extension.

“We are delighted that coach Collins will continue to lead the Alcorn State University Braves football program,” Square said. “He and the entire football staff share the university’s vision for excellence and they care about the welfare of our student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom.”

Collins gives the Alcorn State football program something they desperately needed — stability. And Square and the rest of the Braves athletic administration should be commended for making the right decision in regards to Collins contract.

Collins seems to have the Alcorn State program headed in the right direction. And now, with the contract extension, he will have the opportunity to finish what he started and hopefully lead the Braves to a championship.