Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson steps down: ‘It is in the best interest of the players, coaches’

Jay Hopson has stepped down as football coach at Southern Miss.

The decision comes on the heels of Southern Miss’ season-opening 32-21 loss to South Alabama on Thursday.

“Coach Hopson came to me after last Thursday’s game to discuss what was on his heart and after much discussion over the weekend, he and I agreed that new leadership for our football program is needed,” Southern Miss athletic director Jeremy McClain said in a school release Monday. “Coach Hopson has been a part of our program for 10 years. I appreciate his commitment to Southern Miss and wish Jay and his family nothing but the best.”

Jay Hopson watches the field during Southern Miss' game against South Alabama.

Hopson took over as coach of the Golden Eagles in 2016, and had a 28-23 record. Southern Miss reached three bowl games under Hopson, including the Armed Forces Bowl last season. He had a 1-2 bowl record.

“After a heartfelt discussion with Jeremy, we have come to a mutual agreement for me to step down as head coach. 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 in a statement. “I cannot thank (Southern Miss President Rodney) Bennett and our administration enough for the opportunity that they gave me. I wish Southern Miss nothing but the best and am thankful for all that they have done for me and my family.”

Hopson previously served as an assistant coach at Southern Miss, from 2001-03 and again from 2005-07.

Assistant coach Scotty Walden has been named the program’s interim coach. Walden is in his fourth season with Southern Miss, his second as the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He came to Southern Miss as a head coach at D-III program East Texas Baptist University, where he posted a 7-3 record.

Contact Rashad Milligan at 601-862-6198 or jmilligan@hattiesb.gannett.com. Follow @RashadMilligan on Twitter.

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