Southern Miss athletics has been through a lot over the past year. From the 0-12 football season to a record amount of wins during basketball season to a devastating tornado that damaged the football field, this year has been one of the most interesting to date.
The year started last summer when Jeff Hammond was announced as the university’s athletic director after serving five months in the interim position. Not long after, football season started up, and boy was it a long one.
After a 49-20 pounding by Nebraska, the hits kept coming. Optimism quickly faded with every loss, and by the time the season was nearing the end, Southern Miss was the only winless football team playing Division I football. The season brought the end to the streak of 18 straight winning seasons and 10 consecutive bowl trips and also brought the end to the Ellis Johnson era just 12 months after it began.
Hope was restored when Todd Monken was hired from Oklahoma State, the same school that produced former head coach Larry Fedora. It will not take much for Monken to improve the program. In fact, one win will be an improvement, but it will take some time to get it back to the level that Fedora left it.
Overall, it was a rough season for all fall team sports. Football, volleyball and soccer had a combined record of 12-44-1 and resulted in two head coaches being let go: Johnson and soccer coach Scott Ebke.
With the end of fall sports brought the beginning of basketball and the beginning of another era: the DonnieTyndall era.
Men’s basketball was not predicted to have much success and definitely not expected to have a better season than the 2011 squad that made the NCAA tournament.
While the 2012 team didn’t make the NCAA tournament, they did make the NIT as a number one seed, making it to the quarterfinals before being knocked out at home by BYU.
The team also set a school record for wins with 27 on the season and also set a school record for most points in a game with the 135-point performance against Dillard.
Possibly the most anticipated season of all was baseball. While they got off to a good start by sweeping SEC foe Missouri in the opening series, the team was a meager 11-16 at the end of March.
The team got it turned around in April and is at the top of the conference heading into the final few weekends of the regular season. They look to claim another conference championship as well as a post-season birth.
Athletic seasons were not the only major events that occurred this year. The February 10th tornado did minor damage to a few facilities, including the field at M.M. Roberts Stadium. The turf had to be replaced, which is in progress right now. The annual Black and Gold spring game was played at Petal as a result of the damage done to the turf during the tornado.
The 2012-2013 year was a rollercoaster for Southern Miss. Through winless seasons, tornados and coaching changes, Golden Eagle fans haven’t had as much to celebrate as they have in past years. The bright spots were few and far between, but baseball could give the Golden Eagles something to celebrate into June.