Harold Jackson emphasized incorporating excitement, winning and said he wanted to infiltrate homegrown athletes into the Jackson State football program when he has unveiled as the school’s 12th head coach Monday at the Sports Hall of Fame room at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.
Jackson, 68, said he “looks forward to finishing what they started,” in reference to the team losing the SWAC Championship game in consecutive seasons.
Athletic Director Vivian Fuller, in explaining her decision to hire Jackson after firing Rick Comegy last month, said the new coach will bring “a special flavor” to a program that fell short of its ultimate goal.
Fuller cited Jackson’s extensive assistant coaching experience at the FBS and NFL level as reasons the search committee felt comfortable with hiring a man who has been out of college football since 2006.
Media reports indicate Jackson signed a three-year deal worth $260,000 a season.
An obstacle that Jackson will have to overcome is his limited of head coaching experience. He was last a head coach at the collegiate level at Division II Benedict College in 1996. Prior to that, Jackson spent a season at Virginia Union, also a Division II school, in 1994.
Even though Jackson has been away from the game for a couple of years, he’s confident the sport has not passed him by.
“Football is football,” he said. “The X’s and O’s are the same.”
Jackson also emphasized a need for the school to recruit Mississippi athletes – something JSU spokesman Eric Stringfellow said was of the requirements the incoming head coach had to stress upon taking the position.
We (aren’t) going to go outside Mississippi until we saturate Jackson and the outer areas,” Jackson said. “Maybe we might go to Texas, but if we go to Texas, I want to make sure my guys come back with some players.”
Asked about how the team will look in 2014, Jackson said, “Offense sells football. Defense wins. We will have a defense that will stop the other team.”
Jackson confirmed that no coaching staff changes are on the horizon at the moment until he meets with holdovers from Comegy’s regime.
Jackson coached receivers for 10 years in the NFL with New England (1985-89), Tampa Bay (1992-93), and New Orleans (1997-99). In Jackson’s first season as a coach, the Patriots won the conference championship and played in the 1986 Super Bowl.
Jackson enjoyed a 16-year playing career in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams (1968, 1973-77), Philadelphia Eagles (1969-72), New England Patriots (1978-81), Minnesota Vikings (1982), and Seattle Seahawks (1983).
Jackson, born in Hattiesburg, Miss., also played his college at JSU prior to being drafted into the NFL in 1968.
“This (Jackson) is home for me,” he said. “If I hadn’t been contacted, I still would have been in Los Angeles.”