With the start of the college football season just weeks away, SU head football coach Stump Mitchell still can’t shake off the hay maker the SWAC delivered back in June. The program, along with with Jackson State, was banned from participating in the conference championship game later this year due to Academic Progress Rating failures.
“The NCAA took nine scholarships away from us,” Mitchell told me Tuesday. “That really hurts. I don’t think players who didn’t have anything to do with it should be punished.”
Mitchell said one of things he wants to see addressed is how coaches, players and administrative staffs are educated on APR to prevent uncertainty among the rank and file.
“We have to understand APR and how we can do better for the student-athletes,” said Mitchell, who said he’s emphasizing discipline and commitment this season.
The Jaguars, who finished 2-9 last season and picked to finish dead last in the SWAC Western Division, would be ineligible, along with Jackson State if they somehow reached the league finale.
“If we made it that far, they should allow us to be (in the championship game) because we are playing (at a disadvantage),” he said. “Hopefully they will take another look at it. The SWAC eliminated itself from the FCS playoffs. The SWAC say they are trying to validate the championship game. If they are, then we should have an opportunity to be in the game.”
Mitchell says he and his staff want to clean up the numerous dead ball penalties that hampered production and consistency on both offense and defense.
Sophomore Dray Joseph appears to be the front runner for the starting quarterback job.
The coach also said he expects the offensive line, anchored by 6-3, 287 pound Chris Brown, to play a big role in the success of the offense next year.
Asked if he would make any bold predictions as he did a year ago saying the Jaguars would go 12-0, Mitchell was not as boisterous.
“We are confident we can bounce back from last year,” Mitchell said.