Bower Resigns At Southern Miss After 14th Winning Season

Monday, November 26th 2007, 1:50 pm
By: News On 6

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Southern Mississippi football coach Jeff Bower resigned Monday, ending one of the nation's most successful coaching tenures. A person with knowledge of the Bower's decision confirmed the resignation, but spoke to the Associated Press on the condition he not be identified because an announcement had not yet been made.

A school spokesman said a news conference had been scheduled for 4 p.m. in Hattiesburg.

Messages left for Bower and athletic director Richard Giannini were not immediately returned and it was not clear if Bower would be at the press conference, which was called to ``to make an announcement regarding its football program.''

Bower's departure would end one of college football's most successful runs. On Saturday he clinched his 14th straight winning season with a 16-10 victory over Arkansas State and accepted his 10th bowl invitation in 11 years.

Bower has spent 29 years at the university as a quarterback, assistant coach and head coach.

He was 119-82-1 in 17 years as the school's head coach and had been in the same job longer than all but three coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Only Penn State's Joe Paterno (42), Bobby Bowden (32) of Florida State and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (21) have longer tenures with their schools. His only losing seasons came in 1991 and '93.

It is unclear who will lead the Golden Eagles into the Bowl on Dec. 22 in Birmingham, Ala.

The season had been a disappointment for Bower and Southern Miss. Picked to win Conference USA, the Golden Eagles stumbled to a 2-3 start and needed two wins at the end of the year to finish winners.

Southern Miss' stretch of winning seasons is second only to Florida State (31), Michigan (23), Florida (20) and Virginia Tech (15).

Bower built one of the nation's most powerful mid-majors, hitting the road to play tough competition from Bowl Championship Series conference teams and often coming home a winner. Bower scored upsets over several FBS teams, including Southeastern Conference powers LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Auburn.

His most successful year of upsets came in 2000 when the Golden Eagles beat Alabama, Oklahoma State and TCU.

Bower guided the Golden Eagles to three outright Conference USA championships and one shared league title. He was named the conference's coach of the decade in 2004 and was coach of the year in 1997, 1999 and 2003.

Southern Miss is the second of the state's three FBS schools school with an open position. Mississippi's Ed Orgeron was fired Saturday after three losing seasons.