Jackson State fired Tony Hughes after what can only be described as three seasons of going completely in the wrong direction for miles after the GPS lost its signal while passing through a town that has one stop light and one gas stationed owned by a dude named Roscoe.
The Tigers just didn’t disappoint under Hughes at 9-20 overall. They were consistently one of the frustrating programs in the SWAC under the former Mississippi State assistant and alleged recruiting guru.
During the Hughes era, JSU was 8-11 in league play. Not terrible, but not good either.
Take the first year of the gig for example.
The Tigers started the season 0-3. They then ended the 2016 campaign on a four-game skid. Fun times, right?
Success for first-year head coaches trying to rebuild a program usually doesn’t happen overnight. Hughes didn’t have his guys there. He didn’t have an opportunity to establish a culture. He gets a pass for that.
Then 2017 got off to a promising 0-7 start. There was even a 26-point loss to Division II Tuskegee in there. Inexplicably, though, JSU somehow finished 3-1 in the SWAC East, including a 7-3 victory over an Alcorn State team that didn’t give a hoot about winning that day.
Through the first seven games, JSU was in every game except versus Southern Miss, because in recent history JSU has been overmatched by FBS opponents.
Despite winning two of the last three games most recently, the 41-7 loss to Southern on Saturday confirmed what most close to the JSU program knew.
Hughes wasn’t going to advance the group beyond its current state in the short and long-term.
But the regression of the Tigers to date is not Hughes’ fault. He was never prepared for the job at in the first place.
This debacle squarely rests on the shoulders of the administration for irresponsibility allowing ego and short-sightedness to rule over practicality.
Since Rick Comegy was fired after 2013 SWAC Championship Game, JSU has gone 15-31 overall and 12-26 in conference play.
The program has compiled a 2-10 combined record against Alcorn State, Grambling, and Southern. That’s how far the storied outfit has fallen. They’re closer to the Texas Southerns, Alabama States and Arkansas-Pine Bluffs of the world than to the elite squads at this level.
One bad coaching hire can set a program back 8 to 10 years. JSU has made two of them in the last five years.
If athletic director Ashley Robinson and Co. do not get this next hire right, Jackson State faces the prospect of going a decade or more being relegated to irrelevancy.