More than a half-dozen Southern football players are still in eligibility limbo for the team’s home opener against Central Methodist on Saturday.
At least eight players are waiting to hear if they will be academically certified to play.
The group includes five players who were expected to be starters coming out of preseason — guard Anthony Mosley, a preseason first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection; linebacker Daniel Brown, a second-team pick; defensive back Renaldo Thomas; running back Malcolm Crockett; and wide receiver Nico Talbert.
Terrell Lee, who would have moved into the starting lineup on a shuffled offensive line for the season opener at Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday, also is awaiting his fate. Others hopeful of receiving belated certification are defensive back Jaleel Richardson and linebacker Detrane Lindsey.
Tackle Reginald Redding, who didn’t play in the opener, is eligible but didn’t play last week because of a concussion, Athletic Director William Broussard said. Redding was at practice Tuesday night but was held out of contact drills.
“My philosophy is very simple,” coach Dawson Odums said earlier in the day at his weekly news luncheon. “The guys that show up out there, we’re going to coach them as hard as we can.
“We’ve got to get a football team ready to play, and I’m going to coach the guys that show up. That’s my job.”
The players in question showed up for practice Tuesday, but their eligibility to practice doesn’t extend to games. Any player could have his fate determined at any time, but there’s no guarantee anything will be resolved by Saturday’s game.
Last Saturday, the team was two hours late in leaving for the one-hour bus trip to Lafayette in hopes that there would be some 11th-hour certification. There wasn’t and the team arrived 45 minutes before kickoff.
“Coach always preaches that we have to adapt and overcome,” fullback Brian McCain said. “You don’t know when adversity is going to hit, but you have to be prepared for it when it does hit. As a team, I feel like we did a great job of dealing with what we didn’t see coming.”
Southern lost 45-6 to a Ragin’ Cajuns team picked to win the Sun Belt Conference and favored by five touchdowns.
Broussard said Mosley and Richardson are awaiting a ruling on requests for an NCAA waiver. The others are awaiting university certification.
“It can be one of a hundred different traps,” Broussard said. “It could be progress toward degree, it could be GPA, it could be number of hours passed in a given semester. It’s not that simple.”
Broussard said it took “a Herculean effort” by university officials to certify the 70-plus players who made the trip to Lafayette. The certification is part of Southern’s requirement to send the NCAA documentation of the eligibility of all its student-athletes for the 2014-15 academic year.
Two soccer players are also being withhold from competition while the Jaguars try to certify them.
The certification is taking place amid an ongoing ban from NCAA postseason play because of unusable Academic Progress Rates data submitted to the NCAA for 2009-13. The centerpiece of the university’s nearly year-long effort to have the ban lifted is the implementation of new data gathering and reporting procedures to avoid a repeat of the past problems.
“We’ve got to get everything right and that’s the way it should always be,” Broussard said. “Everything has to be rock-solid and perfect. With us undergoing this data review by the NCAA and identifying these new procedures, we’ve got to install procedures that produce accurate certifications.
“Until they meet that very high standard (for eligibility), we’re going to withhold them. This is a new commitment that the university has made that we need to continue to make. We have to amass the data to be able to certify them. If it doesn’t calculate, we can’t clear them.”
Odums said he wakes up every day understanding “life has a chance to throw you a curveball” like the one that arrived last Saturday.
“I wasn’t outraged or in an uproar,” he said. “I said this is the hand that we were dealt. We played the hand we were dealt that day. We did the best we could, but a better hand is coming, so we’ve just got to get ourselves ready for it.
“The negativity hit us. We withstood it, and you’re going to have some obstacles — but at the end of the day, you’ve got to figure out a way to climb it, get around it or work through it and we did the best we could.”
Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth took notice. Odums said he appreciated the fact that Hudspeth went to the Jaguars locker room after the game to congratulate the players on how they performed under the circumstances.
“I really appreciate people that play the game the right way — and coach Odums, that guy is a class act,” Hudspeth said Tuesday. “I just felt compelled (to visit their locker room) after the game. I just wanted to tell those guys that I thought they played with a lot of class and they played hard until the end. I really appreciate that.”
Advocate sportswriter Luke Johnson contributed to this report.