HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Of the sold out crowd in attendance at the Thad-Cochran Ballroom at the University of Southern Mississippi, many expected see first-year head coach Ellis Johnson. There were some members of the Legends Club, however, that many did not expect to see.
"It said an evening with Ellis, but there were a lot of people here, who over the last 100 years of football and this program have meant a lot more than I have," said Johnson.
Helping to celebrate 100 years of Southern Miss athletics, former Golden Eagles quarterback and future NFL hall-of-famer Brett Favre walked through the door, welcomed by a thunderous applause. Joining Favre, Golden Eagle great Reggie Collier,former head baseball coach and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inductee Corky Palmer, along with NFL great Ray Guy and 17-year Golden Eagle head football coach Jeff Bower.
The event, hosted by Southern Miss radio voice John Cox, was not only to usher in a new era of football for the black and gold, but to celebrate the accomplishments over the past 100 years, and to further celebrate what Southern Miss athletics could be.
"It's great to be here, and to see that great turn out," said Guy, "I just hope that our presence here puts some kind of meaning into the fans to see what we've come from to what we're going to."
Speaking, and delivering a passionate and pictured history of Southern Miss athletics, Interim Athletics Director Jeff Hammond spoke of where the program has come from, and continuing to elevate the program from "good to great," with the help of Golden Eagles past, present and future.
"To be standing there much less tonight seeing these great legends," said Hammond "these mentors, these leaders, these just wonderful guys in one room, it took the breath out of me."
As Johnson put it, "It's just, as my little boy said, it doesn't get much better than this. It's a great time to be at southern miss."