With two games left to the season, Southern coach Dawson Odums is looking to the future of his program.
While still mathematically in the running for the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, the Jaguars are long shots at best, needing to win out as well as receive help from some unlikely sources to reach the postseason.
So with the present all but finalized, Odums is looking to build a program for the future, and he’s starting with Southern’s facilities.
“To stay at the top, it’s going to require everybody understanding that it’s one vision, Odums said. “You have a money maker, you have an engine that’s pulling, so if you put back into that, it will stay at the top. If you do not, it will fall to the bottom.
“(Prairie View) is breaking grounds on a new stadium, Texas Southern has a good athletic budget, Alabama State has their problems but has a great facility. You have to be able to have something in place that will continue to allow you to compete at the top. There’s more to it than coaching and recruiting.”
At his weekly luncheon news conference, Odums said there’s been preliminary talks within the administration about replacing the grass in A.W. Mumford Stadium with artificial turf.
The project would most likely cost about $1.2 million, Odums suggested, in order to build a top-of-the-line product. The coach added that talks would likely pick up at the end of the season and is hopeful any upgrades could be finished during the offseason.
The possible renovation comes only several months after Southern broke ground on Jaguar Park, which hosts a football practice field complete with lights and a full-time soccer facility.
The two-phase construction of Jaguar Park was originally estimated to cost about $500,000 with phase one being scheduled for completion by early August. Team spokesman Chris Jones said phase one is roughly 85 percent done with only aesthetic pieces remaining to be finished.
“You’re competing not only for prospects, but you also have to be competing in the game of facilities, and you have to continue to pump money into it,” Odums said. “It’ll get better. You’ll get a return on it.
“We’re taking the necessary steps to continue to say we want to stay at the top, now we have to go out, get a new recruiting class in, coach them up, evaluate and keep moving forward.”
On the field, Odums is optimistic about the young talent shaping the way for the future of the program, despite previously citing the team’s overall inexperience as a direct cause for the Jaguars’ inconsistency throughout the season.
Odums said he doesn’t consider his first-year players to be freshmen at this point in the season because they should know how to prepare and play at the collegiate level by now.
All but one game this season ended with a 10 point or larger score margin, allowing the Jaguars to reach into their depth chart to give younger players some experience. A 47-42 home loss to Prairie View A&M was the only single-digit game of the year for Southern.
“It says that you’re winning and you’re playing the game with a young football team,” Odums said. “Going forward, keeping those guys eligible, keeping those guys healthy during the offseason, getting them bigger, stronger and faster, you hope that with them returning with the experience they got this year will set you up to be a better football team coming back in 2016.”