Southern Miss Football: 5 Reasons Why Larry Fedora Is a Hot Coaching Prospect
Coaching changes happen every year, whether they come from resignations or firings.
In times of greatness, fans sing their coach's praises. In times of despair, the fans call for the coach's job.
Larry Fedora and the Southern Miss fan base are no exceptions.
Fedora and his Golden Eagles have gone through their shares of ups and downs over the last four years, but many Southern Miss fans have wrongfully called for the head coach to be fired.
To many people's surprise and to many Golden Eagles fans' dismay, Fedora will land himself on big-time schools' radars in the near future.
The most important position on the football field is quarterback.
Struggling teams generally hold bad quarterbacks and vice versa. Quarterback play is arguably the biggest factor in giving football teams the best chance to win and Fedora knows this.
Fedora is also no stranger in helping to develop elite quarterbacks that know how to win and execute on the field. All of his last three coaching stints produced great collegiate quarterbacks.
Florida Gators (Offensive Coordinator): Chris Leak
Leak took over the starting job for the Gators in his freshman year under Fedora and proved his skill quickly, earning multiple nods for Freshman All-America teams.
In his sophomore season, and Fedora's last at Florida, Leak exploded onto the college scene by throwing for over 3,100 yards and 29 touchdowns, earning himself a 145.0 quarterback rating.
Leak went on to lead the Gators to a national championship.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (Offensive Coordinator): Zac Robinson
In Fedora's last year as offensive coordinator for the Cowboys, quarterback Zac Robinson took over as starter in his second game.
Robinson finished the season throwing for over 2,800 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also finished with a quarterback rating of 149.0.
Robinson is now in the NFL.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (Head Coach): Austin Davis
Austin Davis was a walk-on quarterback who has started all four years under Fedora's tutelage. Davis is a great game manager and an extremely smart quarterback.
Davis now holds most of Southern Miss' all-time quarterback records and is on pace to break even more.
Teams Improve over Time
In Fedora's stints as offensive coordinator of Florida and Oklahoma State, his squads have improved skill wise, yard wise and point wise.
Upon his arrival at Southern Miss, Fedora kept the same philosophy and the results have been positive.
In Fedora's first two seasons, the Golden Eagles have posted 7-6 records, with 4-4 and 5-3 records in conference play in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The 2010 squad showed improvements with a 8-5 (5-3 C-USA) record for the season. What the record doesn't show, however, is that the Golden Eagles were just 11 points from a 12-1 (8-0 C-USA) season. With a strong defense, the possibilities are endless for a Fedora football team.
This season has showed just what Fedora can do with a defense, with Southern Miss primed for its first 10-win season since 1988, and possibly its first conference championship appearance since 2006.
Eye for Recruits
Southern Miss doesn't bring in big, flashy recruits, but those type of recruits don't necessarily equal more wins. Fedora recruits players that fit his style and develop the best team.
This season, Fedora's recruiting style has become apparent.
Southern Miss' receiving corps doesn't have the size one would expect from a good team. What the naked eye won't tell you is that the receivers all possess solid catching ability and the ability to get open, something Southern Miss has been lacking in recent years.
Southern Miss' lack of size at the receiver position is more than made up for on the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball.
The offensive line is massive, averaging over 300 pounds a player. Fedora has built a line that is full of players that look like NFL linemen, and play to their size. They simply overpower the opposition on most plays.
The linebackers and defensive line look NFL ready as well with their monstrous frames and physical play. An opposing team from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference had fans refer to the Southern Miss defenders as "toxic waste-fed swamp mutants" after their dominating performance in the field.
None of these players were big-name recruits before reaching Southern Miss, but Fedora has assembled a true team, something that is vital to success on a big stage.
New head coaches often struggle their first year at a new school, especially if they are bringing in an entirely different system with them. Fedora was faced with this problem at Southern Miss.
Larry Fedora runs a spread attack, something the Golden Eagles had not previously run. Fedora had to run an offense with the majority of players being players that did not fit his style. The offense should have struggled, but that was not the case.
With former coach Jeff Bower's players, Fedora ranked 31st in the nation in points per game and 18th in offensive yards per game. As Fedora's recruits now dominate the roster, the offensive success is obvious.
Southern Miss currently ranks fifth in offensive yards per game and 19th in points per game, including the struggles in the first two weeks of the season.
While many people insist that a championship-caliber team must have a dominant defense, Auburn showed last season that this is not always the case. With more talented recruits, Fedora could make serious noise on a national level.
Larry Fedora has coached at big schools, so he knows what is expected of a top-tier program and what it takes to be successful. His offenses have thrived at Oklahoma State and Florida.
He also now has the experience of being a head coach and all of the responsibilities that come with the position. Southern Miss is no small program and Fedora is running it well.
Fedora is beginning to show what he can do when he fills a team with the players he wants. Fedora does what it takes to win.
Arizona: With Mike Stoops gone and Fedora's continuing success, look for Arizona to come calling for Fedora's services in a conference where offenses run wild.
UConn: I know it's early with Paul Pasqualoni in his first year at the helm, but if the Huskies don't improve soon, look for Pasqualoni to be out of Storrs in a hurry and for UConn to look for a young coach to spark the program.
Boston College: Frank Spaziani has underwhelmed in his time at Boston College and this year is quickly turning grim. Without a strong finish, Spaziani could be packing his bags.
Ole Miss: While Fedora landing in Oxford is highly unlikely given the bad blood between Southern Miss and Ole Miss, the possibility is not out of the question. Houston Nutt appears to be on his last chance as head coach of the Rebels. The offense has been seemingly absent this season and will struggle to win a conference game. The Rebels may need Fedora's services to become relevant again.