The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 12, 2014

Southern begins spring drills with revised staff

Daye remains in place with high expectations

Missouri Southern opened its spring football session Tuesday with the announcement of several coaching changes.

Rashad Watson has been promoted to defensive coordinator, while Charles Alexander (secondary/recruiting coordinator), Charlie Hopkins (offensive line) and Frank Wilson (cornerbacks) have been hired as assistants.

One key part of the coaching staff that won’t change is at the top. Daryl Daye, who has led the Lions to winning seasons in his first two years as head coach, had interviewed with LSU about its special teams coaching position in February. Daye was a finalist for the position, but LSU eventually hired Kentucky assistant Bradley Dale Peveto.

Daye, who is an LSU graduate, said interviewing for the job is not an indication that he’s looking to leave Missouri Southern.

“They contacted me and wanted to interview me,” Daye said. “I take that as a very big compliment. I’m not out searching for other jobs. I’m not seeking other things. I’m very happy to be here at Missouri Southern.”

His interest in the SEC school is understandable. He lettered for the Tigers in 1985 and served as a graduate assistant coach at LSU from 1986-88. Daye’s father, Donnie Daye, was a member of LSU’s 1958 national championship team. Daye’s wife, the former Kathy Polko, also is a graduate of LSU and earned all-SEC honors in gymnastics.

“The good Lord is going to place you where he wants you,” Daye said. “The good Lord had a reason for me coming back here, and I firmly believe that. He opens doors and closes them. It was an opportunity that came about. It was a situation where my dad is fighting illnesses back at home. I would have been very happy to go, and I’m very happy to stay. LSU is a great place and is very dear to my family. LSU been great to me and my wife for years, but so has Missouri Southern. I have a great job here. I have a great president, a great A.D. and I’m around a lot of tremendous people.”

Now, Daye appears determined to keep building the MSSU football program. Missouri Southern has a 13-8 record since Daye became head coach before the 2012 season. The Lions finished just 14-28 over the four seasons before Daye became the head coach.

The Lions finished 2013 with a 7-3 record. Missouri Southern finished the season by beating rival Pittsburg State for the first time since 1993.

“We have a lot of momentum,” Missouri Southern quarterback Jay McDowell said. “Beating our rival was a big game to finish with. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence going into next season.”

Missouri Southern will continue spring practice today and Thursday before taking off a week for spring break. The Lions will resume practice March 25, and the spring session will conclude with the annual Green and Gold Spring Game at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12.

The practice time will allow the Lions to get familiar with 10 midseason transfers, as well as the new coaches.

Watson will enter his third season as an assistant for the Lions.

Alexander comes to Missouri Southern after coaching the defensive line for two seasons at NCAA Division II East Stroudsburg. Wilson also spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant for East Stroudsburg.

Hopkins spent this past season as offensive line coach at Division II Brevard College in North Carolina.

“I’m very excited to add these three quality individuals to our coaching staff,” Daye said. “Each of them are highly talented and excellent football coaches, and I’m looking forward to having them on the sidelines.”

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