Support for USM at Critical Juncture
December 6, 2007
Now that some of the furor surrounding the dismissal of Jeff Bower has settled a bit, it's time to look toward the Southern Miss football program's future. Make no mistake, the next hire is possibly the most important in the history of Southern Miss athletics. In one fell swoop, a new cowboy can come into town, unite the alumni, satisfy the wealthy donors and give 08 season ticket sales the type boost that can balance a woefully deficient budget.
On the other hand, if he stumbles and falls after a couple of seasons, the recently rallied supporters will fall off the bandwagon faster than you say "fair weather."
Athletic Director Richard Gianinni has worked tirelessly upgrading facilities, the crown jewel being an expanded MM Roberts Stadium replete with luxury suites holding those same folks that have put the dough up to bring a whole new meaning to, "Southern Miss to the top." Expectations will be high and to over expect is a foreign term to even the most casual college football fan.
Please know this: the person coming in will have great facilities with which to recruit student athletes. But also know the annual athletic operating budget will remain one of the smallest in Division I, and Mississippi's ratio of number of high school football players to number of Division 1 schools is painfully less than most every state. A coach's dismissal will not change those facts. In short, it won't be an easy job.
That's why now, more than ever, we have to pledge support for the program going forward. Even those who remain indignant regarding the recent decisions. We also have to be as realistic as possible, and not over-expect too early. If we do, shame on us. A wrong turn, or attitude, at this crossroads will send shock waves throughout the Pinebelt. The new coach will be vitally important. How we act, react and support will be even more so.