HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ With the rush of recruiting season behind him, University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson said he hopes to wrap up another matter on his agenda: filling out the remainder of his staff.
“I’m going to try and finish that up by the weekend or early next week,” Hopson said Wednesday evening. “I’m ready to get moving on that and get it done. That’s the plan.
“I don’t ever rush, though. The worst thing I can do is rush and not make sure we’re getting the right guy.”
Hopson had three vacancies to fill with the departures of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Buster Faulkner, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Derek Nicholson and running backs coach Chris Buckner.
Faulkner left after one season in Hattiesburg to take an off-the-field coaching position at the University of Georgia. Nicholson left after four years at USM to coach inside linebackers at the University of Louisville.
Buckner had been at USM one season, replacing Les Koenning, who coached running backs for just the 2018 season.
Hopson filled the defensive vacancy when he brought back former USM defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro.
Pecoraro, who had followed Hopson from Alcorn State University to USM in 2016, spent two seasons in Hattiesburg. He left in the spring of 2018 to join Lane Kiffen’s staff at Florida Atlantic University, but was let go after one season.
He spent the 2019 season on Les Miles’ staff at the University of Kansas.
Hopson declined to say Wednesday whether Pecoraro would resume coordinator duties and coach the defensive line as in his previous stint.
“As soon as I get all my hiring done, I’m going to piece that to the puzzle, and then just announce that all at once,” Hopson said. “The good thing is, I’ve got a bunch of excellent coaches who can coach a lot of different positions, and I kind of pride myself on being a football coach, too. I’m not that figurehead that kind of stands on the sideline.
“I want to make sure I’m bringing in good football coaches into the program, and if we do that, we’ll mix it and match it the right way.”
Hopson, who is heading into his fifth season at the helm, will be hiring his third offensive coordinator in that span and his second in two seasons.
USM running backs will be under their fourth coach in Hopson’s tenure.
Hopson said staff shuffling is just a part of the business., with assistants departing and arriving annually.
“It always does every year,” Hopson said. “I always laughed at it because I coached in the FCS and it seemed like you always replaced about five every year.
“So, you hate to say it, but it’s just part of it.”
Hopson said he was grateful for his assistants and plans to find folks with similar attitudes and capabilities.
“Look, one thing I’m blessed with is that I’ve got a bunch of great guys coaching with me, and I’m going to do my best job to not only bring on a great football coach but a great guy, a great person, Hopson said. “That’s