HATTIESBURG Miss. (WDAM) - An already convoluted 2020 football season took another twist at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Scotty Walden, who served as the Golden Eagles interim head coach for three games over a six-week period before being sidelined by COVID-19, has accepted the head football coaching position at Austin Peay State University.
“Today, we welcome one of the most energetic and innovative young coaches in the country to lead our football team,” Austin Peay athletic director Gerald Harrison said in a release. "In Coach Walden, we have found a man who is passionate about the student-athlete experience, energized about being part of the university and Clarksville-Montgomery County community, and excited to join us in our relentless pursuit of excellence.
“Scotty is a new-age CEO for a new era of college football. He is a tireless worker, a motivator, a dogged recruiter, and a person who possesses an infectious personality that will lead us back to the OVC Championship and beyond.”
Walden, 30, is the youngest head coach at the Division I level. He will be formally introduced to the Peay community on Monday.
“Callie, Luca, and I are incredibly blessed and thankful to be a part of the Governor family,” Walden said in an APSU release. "Becoming the head football coach for an up-and-coming program like Austin Peay is a dream come true for myself and my family.
“I am looking forward to meeting the players and getting to work as soon as possible...Let’s go do something special together.”
With Walden heading to Clarksville, Tenn., USM assistant head coach Tim Billings has been appointed USM’s interim head coach for the rest of the season.
Billings took over last week as Walden quarantined, acting as interim head coach during the Golden Eagles' 56-35 loss Saturday at Liberty University.
USM athletic director Jeremy McClain wished Walden the best in a statement from the university.
“We are excited for Scotty and his family as they begin this new journey and we wish them nothing but the best,” McClain said in the release.
“As we adjust, I have asked Tim Billings to take over the interim head coach role and I have full confidence in his ability to successfully lead our team for the rest of the season.”
Billings, who has been in Hattiesburg since 2016, is a 41-year coaching veteran, who served as head coach at Southeast Missouri State University from 2000-05.
Billings also worked as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri, University of Oklahoma, Marshall University, Wake Forest University and University of Memphis.
He became the third head coach to lead the Golden Eagles this season.
Jay Hopson resigned one game into his fifth season in Hattiesburg after USM opened 2020 with a 32-21 home loss to the University of South Alabama.
Walden, who had been on Hopson’s staff since 2017, was appointed interim. USM had gone 1-2 on his watch, losing to Louisiana Tech University and Tulane University and beating the University of North Texas.
USM (1-4) is scheduled to host Rice University (0-1) at 2 pm. Saturday.