Texas Southern announced it would not renew the contract of head coach Clarence McKinney on Monday evening. McKinney finished with a 12-35 overall record after inheriting a struggling program in 2018. The next coach to lead the Tigers will inherit a talent roster, but the key will be how the next coach relates to quarterback Andrew Body.
According to sources, keeping the standout quarterback out of the transfer portal is priority number one for the administration. Other sources indicate that Body was notified of an impending move following a 44-10 win over Alcorn State two weeks ago.
TSU vice president for intercollegiate athletics Dr. Kevin Granger immediately denied a decision was made when word began to leak last week.
“I have not met with Coach McKinney, I have not talked with Coach McKinney about his job status,” Granger said to The Defender on Tuesday night. “I don’t do that midseason. I do that at the end of the year.”
Dr. Granger made the decision following an evaluation period of two days following a heartbreaking fourth-quarter collapse that became common during the 2023 season. If a school is reportedly willing to inform the team’s quarterback of an impending move, then it’s clear that Body’s opinion will at least play a small role in choosing the next head coach.
Whoever the Tigers choose must be given time to build a winning program. In the age of the transfer portal, it’s unknown how many players will remain at TSU. A group of players reportedly met with Dr. Granger about the leaked report in support of McKinney. It’s unclear if any players will enter the portal with 14 days remaining until they can officially go that route.
The new coach will want his staff, and the roster is sure to change, which leads to one reason the football program hasn’t had a coach depart with a winning record since Rod Paige in 1975 if you subtract the nine wins that were vacated from Johnnie Cole’s record for playing ineligible players in 2010.
Texas Southern has had a revolving door of six coaches since William A. Thomas departed in 2003. McKinney is the only coach to spend five years at the school during that period, and one of his years was taken away by the pandemic.
To put it bluntly, the administration needs to allow the next hire more time to build the program. For that to happen, the donors and fans must allow the next head coach time and realize there may be valleys along the way.
With that in mind, here are five candidates that could be under consideration at Texas Southern.
Eric Dooley, Former Southern and Prairie View A&M head coach
Dooley didn’t live up to the extremely high expectations of the Southern fan base and was fired before the regular season finale last week after only two years with the Jaguars. Before Southern, Dooley was 20-17 at rival PVAMU before resigning to take the Southern job. However, some are clamoring for the school to look outside the SWAC for the next coach. It’s also unknown if Dooley would desire to return to the Houston area.
Jason Todd, South Oak Cliff High School head coach
Todd is the only Dallas ISD coach in history to lead a school to back-to-back state championships, and the Bears are a threat for a three-peat this year. Todd is an alum of TSU and is the candidate if the Tigers are searching for a successful high school coach similar to Joey McGuire at Texas Tech and Jeff Traylor at UTSA. However, McGuire and Traylor spent time as college assistants before becoming head coaches. Another unknown is whether TSU could offer enough money to entice Todd to leave the place he’s called home for over 20 years.
Tony Hull, Grambling offensive coordinator
If TSU is searching for a candidate similar to Dooley’s profile before he became head coach at PVAMU and has ties to Louisiana high schools, then Hull is the guy. Hull had a successful high school run as a head coach at Warren Easton before transitioning to the collegiate ranks. He has spent time at Hawai’i, Kansas, and Louisiana-Monroe before joining GSU as offensive coordinator this season.
Brad Bustle, Hampton tackles and tight ends coach
A veteran offensive coach, Bustle has spent time in FBS, FCS, and the junior college ranks. Bustle has ties to Louisiana, having spent time as a senior offensive analyst for the Ragin’ Cajuns and was a walk-on at Louisiana who spent four years as a starter on the offensive line. Bustle’s father, Rickey, was head coach at Lousiana from 2002-2010. He would also satisfy those clamoring for someone outside of the SWAC.
Tremaine Jackson, Valdosta State head coach
Jackson’s ties to Texas Southern date back to the two years he played for the Tigers defensive line from 2002-2003. He returned to TSU as an assistant coach from 2008-2011, where the Tigers led the country in total defense in his only season as defensive coordinator. Most recently, Jackson has spent the last four seasons as a head coach in NCAA Division II. Jackson led Colorado Mesa to the program’s first win over a top-5 school since joining DII en route to posting a 10-3 mark overall. Jackson has spent the last two years at Valdosta State, where he has the Blazers 11-1 and in the second round of the DII playoffs.
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