Alcorn State cruises past Grambling for another SWAC title _lowres

Associated Press photo by Eric Christian Smith Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson poses with the Eddie G. Robinson Trophy after Alcorn State defeated Grambling 49-21 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Gameon Saturday in Houston.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Miss hired Alcorn State’s Jay Hopson as its next football coach.

Southern Miss Athletic Director Bill McGillis announced the hiring Saturday. Hopson replaces Todd Monken, who left last week after three seasons to become offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hopson became the first white head football coach in Southwestern Athletic Conference history in 2012 when he took over at Alcorn State, a historically black university. The Braves had a 32-17 record during his tenure and won a SWAC championship in each of the past two seasons.

The Vicksburg native has been a Southern Miss assistant coach twice in the past — both under Jeff Bower during the 2000s. Hopson played football at Ole Miss from 1998 to 2001 and was also an assistant coach with the Rebels in 2004.

Hopson takes over a Southern Miss program that’s coming off a resurgent 9-5 season. The Golden Eagles won the Conference USA Western Division before losing to Western Kentucky in the league title game.

The timing of Monken’s departure — less than two weeks before recruits pick their schools on national signing day — stunned Southern Miss and threatened to slow the program’s momentum.

Fred McNair will be the interim head coach for Alcorn State.