By Roscoe Nance, For TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com
Jackson State is surely having an acute case of buyer’s remorse for its decision to hire Hal Mumme – the supposed master of the Air-Raid Offense – last December as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, and with good reason.
With Mumme calling the plays, the Tigers were supposed to light up the scoreboard with a wide-open attack. It never happened.
Instead of bombing 0pponents, Mumme’s Air Raid Offense bombed.
Jackson State scored fewer than 20 points in each of its first three games and was in the bottom three in the SWAC in six offensive statistical categories before Mumme resigned last week “to pursue professional opportunities.’’
The Tigers said goodbye to Mumme by having their most productive offensive game of the year against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They scored a season-high 30 points and generated 400 yards total offense, another season high, with interim offensive coordinator Derrick McCall calling the plays.
Yeah, that’s the same Derrick McCall who played quarterback for the Tigers from 1979-82 and helped the Tigers win a pair of SWAC championships, the same Derrick McCall who is in his ninth season on the Jackson State coaching staff, and was interim head coach for a portion of the 2016 season before Tony Hughes was hired to lead the program, and the same Derrick McCall who was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator in 2012-13 when Jackson State averaged 400 total yards a game.
Mumme came to the Tigers from Belhaven University, a Division III school across town from Jackson State. He led the Blazers to an 8-33 record in four seasons. Last season, Belhaven averaged 55.8 passing attempts and 445.3 total yards a game. Those gaudy stats apparently caught Jackson State’s eye, and the Tigers handed Mumme the keys to their offense.
Obviously, whoever did the hiring at Jackson State wasn’t listening to Arizona State coach Herm Edwards – a former ESPN analyst who was coach of the New York Jets at the time – when he so eloquently explained what coaching is all about: “You play to win the game.’’
That’s the long and the short of it. Getting off the bus throwing the ball and breaking the scoreboard doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t lead to winning games.
Clearly, it didn’t for Mumme.
Somehow, Jackson State fell for the glitz and glamour that was supposed to come with the Air Raid Offense and paid little attention to the scoreboard.
What’s most curious about the Mumme hiring is that Jackson State overlooked McCall from the get-go. Turning a blind eye to him was a slap in the face not only to him, but to HBCU graduates in general.
When schools recruit student-athletes – and non-athlete students as well – one of the first things they tell them is that a degree from that school is as good as a degree from any school in America and that graduates from their school can compete with graduates from anywhere.
Right. Too many times, what HBCUs do speaks so loud we can’t hear what they say.
No doubt Jackson State will say it was looking for the best person for the job when it hired Mumme. That’s a story everybody knows because we hear it told regularly by those on the other side of tracks. It defies logic to think that a coach with a track record of success in your conference and at your level of competition – not to mention that he is one of your own and looks like the players he would be coaching – wouldn’t have been a better fit.
Mumme’s greatest success in terms of winning came at Iowa Wesleyan, an NAIA program that he led to a 24-11 record in three seasons and at Valdosta State, a Division II program that was 40-17-1 in his five seasons and reached the playoffs twice. McMurray, a Division III independent, was 27-16 in four seasons under him.
But it seems that Mumme wasn’t ready for prime time.
His teams at the Division I level struggled mightily. Kentucky made two bowl appearances in his four seasons in the Blue Grass State, but the Wildcats only had one winning record and were 20-26 overall. Southeastern Louisiana, an FCS independent was 12-11 in two seasons and New Mexico State, another FBS program, was 11-38 in four seasons.
Very impressive – if you’re looking for mediocrity, which it seems Jackson State must have been. That’s certainly what the Tigers got, at best.
But all is not lost. It’s not too late for the Jackson State brain trust to do the right thing and remove the interim tag from McCall’s title. Let’s face it. Whatever offense he runs couldn’t be worse than the train wreck Mumme brought to Lynch Street, and McCall has already shown he can come up with something a whole lot better.
So, give the brother a chance, please. Why don’t you?