The 2020 pandemic season saw a lot of struggles, cancellations, and inconsistency performances. Perhaps no team was more emblematic of the struggle than Southern Mississippi. The program fired Jay Hopson to start the season 1. New Austin Peay head coach Scotty Walden stepped up and got an interim win for the Golden Eagles before leaving. Tim Billings has stepped into the role while new head coach Will Hall was announced.
The team suffered from the absence from some COVID-related opt-outs to begin the year, and throughout the season but still had enough talent and enthusiasm to beat up a Florida Atlantic team that had a small chance just a few short days ago of winning the East.
You can say USM was fortunate to have had the news published that, actually, FAU was playing for nothing. USM was fortunate that FAU had played Georgia Southern last weekend and was coming off a short week while the Golden Eagles had an effective bye.
Whatever the circumstances, execution is required. Southern Miss put up 500+ yards, got big plays (which are partly fortune, partly execution) and clinched things with a huge drive late that killed any hope of a FAU comeback.
FAU had the makings of a little complaint (and probably something to re-think for the league in the offseason) as at the beginning of this week they had a sliver of hope for not only playing in the title game, but hosting it. Instead, when Marshall cancelled their game because of coronavirus concerns the rule that considers two teams within a win of each other but with the same number of losses as ‘tied’, FAU was effectively eliminated by the postponement.
As it is, we won’t have any GOP-style “stop the steal” talk, right now. FAU got beat down by a spectacular Southern Miss on Thursday night and Marshall is the clear and deserving East division winner.
For USM, this was a nice preview of things to come. Despite the struggles this season and recently, the the program has always managed to get talent on the field and is always capable of doing things like this. Will Hall is the new person to take charge and clean up whatever mess was left over after this transitionary year.
Ahem, they “mutually parted” ways ↩