Southern University is looking for a new head football coach for the second time in two years after firing Eric Dooley.
AD Roman Banks spoke to the media in Baton Rouge on Wednesday to answer questions about the move — and the next move as well.
Banks, who hired Dooley as head coach after a three-year stint at Prairie View A&M in December 2021.
“I think Coach Dooley was a great boost for us. He was able to stimulate the fan base. He brought a lot of the alumni football players back to be involved. And so the hiring shook Jaguar Nation up where we could see it in season ticket sales went up, attendance went up and so the initial boost that I thought that Coach Dooley would bring to the program — it happened.”
That boost was short-lived, according to Banks. Southern went 7-5 in Year One under Dooley, making it to the SWAC Championship Game where it fell to a juggernaut Jackson State program. But things fell apart, and the same fan-base that Dooley ignited began to pull away from him.
“I just think somewhere along the way is that in this business — still communicating with your fan base, being able to, communicate about work ethic or also about when you’re at the podium talking and sometimes we have to accept responsibility and to let them know that, we are working to correct ourselves and so just looking at where we were last year versus this year — wasn’t the expectations. For me, It just didn’t have a clear version of the game plan going forward.”
Banks alluded to a lack of accountability and making adjustments led him to the decision to part ways.
“It was very frustrating at times and we all have to sometimes make some changes,” Banks said. “In this business — you’re not going to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. And I think its…your coaching philosophy, your administration philosophy is when you stand in the gap and say, okay, to the fans, to the people, to the media, we missed this one. This one is on me, and we’re going to make some changes.
“And so I just think with evaluating all that and having the conversation with him about those things just led us to this point. I just want to make sure going forward — and there won’t be a rush — these things are locked in your mind that when, when you had a next person, you just want to dig in. You’ll never be 100 percent sure about anyone, but you want to dig in and make sure that some of the things that caused frustration probably for us and our fans and players and whatever the case may be, that that doesn’t happen in your next hire.
Banks said the decision was officially made on Tuesday morning. He says the search for the next head coach will take a backseat to the Bayou Classic as Terrance Graves will serve as interim head coach in tandem with Sean Wallace as acting head coach.
What is Southern University looking for in a new head coach?
Banks said he has a pool of candidates in mind, despite the search not having taken place.
“I don’t we’re not going to limit ourselves to just saying that we hired someone from a HBCU, from SWAC, anything like that,” Banks said. “We’re going to do look as wide as we can, look as high as we can look, and come up with the right guy for this job.”
That doesn’t mean he’s going to go after a high-profile, Power Five coach, either. He said the doesn’t think the next coach will have to have a history with Southern University, as Dooley did — but fit does matter in more ways than once. He also said there were people on the staff who were capable.
“I think that the person needs to understand the job. I think that’s the most important part,” Banks told the media. “Would I like for them to have some similarities to this job on their resume that they worked before so they won’t… I don’t want nobody coming from a Power Five and thinking that we have… we’re going to fly to this place, fly to that place. And they’re going to go recruit at 5:00 and be back here at 10:00 at night. You know, we don’t have those type of resources. So there needs to be someone that understands the job and eager for the challenge.”