Candidates interview for Alcorn job

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LORMAN — Four candidates for the Alcorn State head football coaching vacancy gave nearly four hours worth of interviews on campus Monday.

Alcorn State president Dr. M. Christopher Brown said the university will announce its next football coach Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of the Purple-Gold spring game.

Alcorn State assistant Todd McDaniel, who is currently serving as the director of football operations until a new coach is selected, was one of four interviewed. The others were former Southern Miss and Memphis defensive coordinator Jay Hopson, Northern Colorado offensive coordinator Michael Armour, and former Kentucky State coach Fredrick Farrier.

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McDaniel, who is directing the Braves’ spring practices which included the Monday afternoon session, said it was a long day.

“Pretty tedious, but they just want to make sure they find the right person for the job,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel, citing university policy, declined to speak further about his desire to pursue the position which became vacant when Melvin Spears was fired after one season.

Hopson, a Vicksburg native who graduated from Warren Central and went on to play at Ole Miss, said he wanted to wait until later today to discuss the position.

One candidate who did speak was Armour, who spent two seasons on the staff of former coach Earnest Collins when he coached at Alcorn State for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Armour followed Collins to Northern Colorado to become the offensive coordinator there.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to come back and interview for the position,” Armour said. “To get to see some of the guys I recruited as freshmen and now to see them as juniors, is great to see. It’s been a great experience for me to do this.”

Armour said his first season at Northern Colorado was a rough one. The Bears went 0-12.

“We went oh-fer, but it’s a rebuilding job, just like the job here will be,” Armour said. “We just started our spring training and it will be very important for us.”

Alcorn State finished 2-8 under Spears, but the win-loss record was not the primary reason for his dismissal. Spears clashed with a handful of players, the most prominent being then-sophomore starting quarterback Brandon Bridge. Bridge left the team at midseason, which caused a backlash among the Alcorn State alumni.

Spears was dismissed in January after a month-long investigation by Brown and his administration. McDaniel, who was a defensive line coach on Spears’ staff, was picked to oversee the day-to-day operations of the football program.

A current Alcorn State football player, Robert Clay, voiced his support for McDaniel.

“He’s been handling things pretty well for us and I’m glad he’s tried to get the position,” said Clay, a sophomore running back. “I feel like he deserves the job.”

Another player, redshirt freshman athlete Nathan Fields, voiced an opinion felt by many of the Braves.

“Whoever they hire, we want him to stay for all four of the years we are here,” Fields said.

The new hire will be the Braves’ fourth head coach in the past five years. Earnest Jones, a former Cincinnati assistant, was fired after one season. Collins, who came from Kansas State, was in Lorman for two seasons and then got the head coaching job at Northern Colorado. He was replaced by Spears.