There's been a lot of hub bub concerning the firing of first year Southern Miss Head Football Coach Ellis Johnson. All kind of speculation is in the air as to who will be his successor and what kind of program they will institute. Lots of big money figures are being floated. Granted, athletics—especially football in the South—is the image and calling card for most colleges and universities and I'm as big a fan as any. But we also are in need of a permanent president for the university as well and not too many are talking about that.
It makes us wonder about our priorities when a college football coach can be offered over $28 million for a 5-year contract at one university and presidents make a fraction of that. I know the arguments for the system so there's no point in beating that dead horse.
Nevertheless at USM we need a president with an exciting vision and a long range plan. One who can balance Athletics and Academics together on the same team. To paraphrase the late Bear Bryant, you never see headlines about the Math department on the front page or as the lead story. But in a world where we are being surpassed by other countries in math and science and finishing students can't even spell…we'd better start putting at least as much emphasis on academic programs and leadership as athletics.