Joey Jones, the 52-49 head coach of South Alabama, announced he’ll resign at the end of the 2017 season. He’s the only coach in the program’s eight-year history, leading it through a speedy transition to the FBS level, into Sun Belt membership, and to two bowl trips during its six years at the top level of college football.
USA’s most recent game was a 52-0 loss to Georgia Southern, which recently fired its own head coach. The Jaguars are 4-7 with a game against New Mexico State to go.
From a school statement:
"Joey Jones is the father of our football program. He, his wife Elise, and his entire family put their arms around the program and committed to its establishment and growth," said athletic director Joel Erdmann. "He has placed South Alabama football on strong footing, which is something he and his family can be very proud of and we sincerely appreciate. His good, hard work and commitment will forever be recognized."
"There comes a time in every program where there is a need for change. For this program that I love so much, that time is now," Jones said. "One of the proudest days of my professional life was being the named the first head coach at South Alabama. Today is difficult, but it is the right step for me, my family, and for this football program."
The announcement of the formation of Jaguars football was made on Dec. 6, 2007, and Jones was hired as the program's first head coach just over two months later on Feb. 15. He and his initial staff worked from various points on campus until the completion of the football field house prior to the team's first-ever fall camp in the summer of 2009.
Jones led South to wins in each of its first 19 contests, which including posting a 7-0 mark in the program's inaugural season and a 10-0 record the following fall. He guided the Jags through the transition to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and competition in the Sun Belt Conference, and after being picked to finish seventh out of eight teams prior to the start of the 2013 campaign he was chosen the league's Coach of the Year for directing the Jaguars to a tie for third in the final standings (one game behind that year's co-champions).
In addition to helping USA to a winning conference record the following season, Jones was responsible for guiding the program to its first two postseason bowl appearances — the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in 2014 and NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl a year ago — as well as the Jaguars' first-ever victories over a Southeastern Conference school and nationally-ranked opponent. And, his efforts helped the Jags defeat rival Troy in three out of the last four seasons.
Visit Group of 5 blog Underdog Dynasty for more on USA in the days to come.