Head football coach Jay Hopson, who led Alcorn State to back-to-back SWAC championships win 2014 and 2015, was named Saturday as the new head coach at Southern Mississippi. Alcorn State Athletics Director Derek Horne then announced that assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Fred McNair would serve as interim head football coach while a national search for a permanent head coach was conducted.
The search apparently ended Tuesday when McNair was named to the permanent position at a 3 p.m. press conference at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson. McNair, a former Alcorn State quarterback like his legendary younger brother, the late Steve McNair, was the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach under Hopson. He joined the staff in 2012. Prior to coaching at Alcorn State, McNair was a high school head coach at one school and an assistant at two other Mississippi high schools.
McNair would be the third new coach to join the SWAC head coaching ranks this offseason, joining Tony Hughes at Jackson State and Michael Haywood at Texas Southern. Hopson, the first white head coach in SWAC and Alcorn State history, led the Braves this year to a berth in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl where they lost to MEAC champion, North Carolina A&T (41-34). He compiled a 32-17 record in four seasons leading the Braves.
This is his third stint at Southern Miss — he was the Golden Eagles’ defensive backs coach from 2001 to ’03 and the defensive coordinator from 2005 to ’07. The program had a winning record in all six of those seasons — which was part of a streak of 18 straight winning seasons from 1994 to 2011. A native of Vicksburg, Ms., and Ole Miss graduate, Hopson signed a four-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $500,000. He was making $150,000 at Alcorn State.