Went down to South Alabama to speak with Joey Jones on a book project I'm working on–got one coming out in late March by the way, golf fiction should be fun– and thought his program looked sharp. Watched practice. The coaches are very energetic and sharp. The players are totally into it. He's got a pretty athletic defense; they were impressive. Offense is coming along. They were 7-0 last year against some weaker teams, but are playing some pretty good teams this year in Georgia State (Bill Curry), Cal-Davis and Nicholls State.
Next year (2011) they will have the full compliment of 85 players on scholarship and will be FBS. They will play Mississippi State twice, Navy and North Carolina State in the next three years. They will be a member of the Sun Belt Conference and be bowl eligible in 2013. They are serious about it.
They got a nice recruiting class this year; Joey says they are recruiting all of Alabama, Georgia all the way up to Atlanta, Florida all the way to I think Orlando, Southern Mississippi, Southern Louisiana and Houston, a city Joey says is a good breeding ground for players and not too far away.
Joey is an awesome guy and so positive. He knows they can't compete with Alabama and Auburn for players; if those two programs want a guy they're going to get them over South Alabama, he's realistic about that. But he is convinced they can compete with UAB, Southern Miss and Troy for players.
South has a 10 million dollar state of the art field house with a first class lockerroom, weight room and coaches' offices. It is something else. It's a smaller scale University of Alabama facility. Really nice.
Joey's one of the best guys I know. I think he'll do very well and have his teams going to bowl games consistently starting in '13. He's very happy in Mobile–he grew up there. Great situation for him and he's going to take that program to a high level. Great competition in coming years.
I also talked to one of Joey's coaches and he told me that Rush Propst, after struggling his first year at Colquitt County in Georgia, took his team to the semifinals losing in the Class 5A semis (Ga.'s highest class) to Camden County, the eventual state champion. Camden County was a fine team whom Hoover beat during the regular season but who killed Hoover in 2008 with one of the best teams in the country that year in my opinion. They were awesome in all phases of the game in 2008 and pretty darn good in 2009. They also won the state in 2008. Propst has apparently got it going in Moultrie, Georgia.