Southern starts its search for a new head coach as Dawson Odums heads to Norfolk State

Just three days after leading Southern University to a dominating 49-7 victory against Grambling State in the 47th annual Bayou Classic, head coach Dawson Odums announced the rivalry win would be his last as a Jaguar.

Odums officially resigned from his position Tuesday to take over the head coaching job at Norfolk State in Virginia. He spent the past 10 years with Southern—nine as the head coach—garnering a 63-35 overall record, as well as a 53-17 showing in the SWAC.

“On behalf of the Jaguar Nation, I want to express my sincerest appreciation and thank you to Coach Dawson Odums for all his contributions to Southern University,” athletic director Roman Banks said in a statement released earlier this week. “His tenure as the head football coach will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to our student-athletes not only on the football field, but in the classroom, as well. We appreciate him for developing young people and bringing us back to the top of the SWAC with our championship runs. While we are certainly disappointed to see Dawson and his family leave our program, we are excited for their new endeavors.”

Odums was originally promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach during the 2012 season, taking over for former coach Stump Mitchell, who had gone just 6-18 in his three seasons with the Jaguars.

During his tenure in Baton Rouge, Odums led Southern to four SWAC Western Division titles, including the school’s first overall conference title in a decade in 2013.

The Shelby, North Carolina, native went 5-1 throughout the Jaguars’ spring season, capped off by the 42-point stomping of the Tigers, which brought Odums’ Bayou Classic record to 6-3 overall.

“I have had the pleasure of serving our students and community alongside Coach Dawson Odums for five of his nine phenomenal seasons here at Southern University,” said President-Chancellor Dr. Ray L. Belton. “His dedication to seeing our student-athletes win on and off the field will impact them for years to come. Southern University is losing a great leader, motivator and role model with his departure. Coach Odums will always be a valued and respected member of our Jaguar Nation. We wish him and his family all the best on the next segment of their journey.”

According to the reliable FootballScoop.com, Odums is set to receive a hefty six-year contract worth $225,000 per year at Norfolk State. He had recently signed an extension to stay at Southern through 2022 making $210,000.

Odums will replace former Spartans coach Latrell Scott, who went 21-35 in his five seasons with Norfolk State. Scott stepped down from his duties with the Spartans in early March to take a position coaching job at East Carolina.

Not many names have surfaced as Odums’ replacement yet, but one report from Jimmy Smith at TigerDetails.com says current LSU wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph is “high on the list of candidates.”

Joseph, a New Orleans native, has been on Ed Orgeron’s staff since 2017. He has more than 20 years of coaching experience but has only been a head coach once during a two-year stint at Langston University from 2011-2012.

Regardless of who winds up filling his shoes, Odums feels confident that the new Southern coach will inherit a strong team with a bright future.

“(It’s about) just loving them and caring about them and treating them the right way,” Odums said in his introductory press conference with Norfolk State. “These guys understand it. No matter who comes in here, (the players) can adapt and adjust. It’s a mindset. They have to get those guys to believe in them. I don’t know what direction (they will go in), but it’s a good football team left behind and some good young men. They’ve got a good group of parents, and someone is going to get a good football team. I wish them nothing but the best. I hope they have all the success, because they’re like sons to me. I really, really, really love them. And I appreciate their time and dedication.”

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