The Southwestern Athletic Conference has its opinions on how the league should handle future football championship games.
Dawson Odums has his own thoughts on the issue.
On his weekly radio show, the Southern head coach said he’d like to see the SWAC abolish the divisional play the league has long used to decide the best two teams in favor of the best two overall teams regardless of division.
“We should go away from divisions if we play eight games,” he said. “We should say the championship is going to come down to the first- and second-place teams. You may have to beat somebody twice, but at least at the end of the day you get the best two teams playing for a championship.”
The Jaguars are in position to take the Western Division with a likely rematch against Alcorn State coming in the championship to be played on the top overall seed’s home venue. However, the league has yet to decide on the future of the title game beyond this season.
The game was changed three times in the past two years, first being ended all together under former commissioner Duer Sharp only to be reinstated after Sharp resigned last winter.
New commissioner Charles McClelland then announced the game would be played in Birmingham this summer — as opposed to its previous home in Houston — but the venue changed once again when a potential conflict with the Conference USA championship game threatened the horizon.
This year’s game will now be played at the home site of the top overall seed, a popular choice among several of the SWAC’s athletic directors, including Southern’s Roman Banks.
But Odums said earlier this week that several head coaches are in favor of playing the game at the previous winner's home venue.
“That way you can plan it, people can make reservations and you at least know where the championship game is going to be played,” Odums said. “That was the proposal we put in place and talked about as head coaches.”
How it (might) happen
Southern is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division.
All it takes is the Jaguars winning their final two games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling for SU to book its first trip to the title game since 2014.
Alcorn State is still in the lead overall and in the East after thumping Southern at home a little over a month ago.
But if Jackson State wins its final two games, including a season finale against the Braves, the Tigers can overcome a year of turmoil to make the championship game.
Conversely, if Alabama State beats Jackson State on Friday, Alcorn clinches the East without stepping foot on the field.
Needed: pass catcher
Odums is looking for someone to step up in the wide receiver or tight end rooms.
Southern found consistent receivers for Ladarius Skelton to throw to in Kendall Catalon and Trey Smith, but the Jaguars feel they need more down the stretch of the season.
“We’re doing some things after the bye week that we’ll be able to utilize those guys a little more,” Odums said. “Somebody else is going to have to step up. We need somebody from the receiving corps or the tight ends to step up and really help us in the month of November.”
Southern’s “Three Musketeers” of Catalon, Jamar Washington and Cameron Mackey were expected to provide a large boost to the offense in their sophomore years, but Washington and Mackey have seen little action in the past few weeks.
Catalon leads the team with 28 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Washington and Mackey combine for 242 yards and one scores on 24 catches.
Dennis Craig is the most productive tight end with three catches for 51 yards.
November inevitably means several seniors will play their final home games at A.W. Mumford Stadium this weekend.
Southern plans to recognize nine seniors for their contributions, highlighted by starting cornerbacks Demerio Houston and Timothy Thompson.
Southern is 5-1 on senior day under Odums.
“That’s a tremendous accomplishment for those seniors,” Odums said. “We’ve had some very good classes and some great young men who compete each year. It’s important to go out with a win on that day because a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building this program.”