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Southern Miss’ Hopson out as coach; Walden takes over

HATTIESBURG (AP) — Southern Mississippi coach Jay Hopson said Monday that he has stepped down and co-offensive coordinator Scotty Walden will take over as interim coach.

The school announced the coaching change Monday afternoon in a news release, ending Hopson’s tenure one game into his fifth season. The Golden Eagles lost at home to South Alabama in Thursday’s season opener.

In statements, Hopson described the decision as the result of a “mutual agreement” with athletics director Jeremy McClain, while McClain said Hopson approached him after last week’s loss.

“I am in total agreement with this change in leadership and truly believe it is in the best interest of the players, coaches and this entire program,” Hopson said.

Hopson went 28-23 and reached three bowl games since taking over before the 2016 season. He was also an assistant for Southern Miss from 2001-03 and 2005-07.

Hopson created headlines in 2019 when he interviewed former Baylor head coach Art Briles for a position on his football staff. Briles had been fired after an external investigation revealed in May 2016 that Baylor had for years mishandled numerous sexual assault allegations by students, including some against football players.

That led to a statement from the school saying university president Rodney D. Bennett and interim athletics director Jeff Mitchell had decided Briles was “not a candidate,” while Hopson disagreed and said at the time that Briles “deserves a second chance.”

Walden has spent the past four seasons with the Golden Eagles, with this being his second year as co-offensive coordinator. He was also working as receivers coach. Previously he had been head coach at Division III East Texas Baptist.

Southern Miss hosts Louisiana Tech in Conference USA play on Sept. 19.

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