On Monday, South Alabama head coach Joey Jones announced that offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent had been relieved of his duties. This came on the heels of the Jaguars six point overtime loss to the Idaho Vandals, sinking the Jags to a 1-3 record.
Jones said that Vincent had approached him and “expressed concern about our current status and what is best for our program moving forward.” After further discussion, it was decided that the two should part ways.
Vincent had been on staff since 2011, with a short stint at UAB in 2014, when he joined as a tight ends coach. He became the offensive coordinator in 2015 and led an offense that finished ninth in the Sun Belt in 2015, fifth in in 2016 and is currently ninth this season.
Offensive line coach Richard Owens is filling in and calling the plays with input from Jones.
Vincent isn’t the first offensive coordinator to be ousted during the season. His predecessor, Robert Mathews, was fired following the final game of the 2014 regular season and Vincent acted as the offensive coordinator in the bowl game.
As for why Vincent approached Jones and what caused the two to split remains unknown. Vincent was obviously frustrated with the direction of the program, which is definitely understandable. Since Vincent joined, South has yet to post a winning record in FBS play. The team has gone bowling twice, losing both times.
Getting out of a stagnant program can be justifiable, but Vincent’s outlook isn’t bright. Being fired from an average at best team in a bottom-tier conference isn’t the best look.
As for the Jaguars, this could be the beginning of Jones’ downfall. Somebody finally stood up and questioned where the program is heading. Jones did a fine job building the program but hasn’t produced any more than six wins since South joined the FBS in 2012. You could defend Jones and say that the football program is still young and has plenty of room to grow. This is true, but Jones missed on South’s first chance to shine.
The Jaguars took down Mississippi State at home last year and defeated San Diego State yet lost to several perceivably inferior opponents. This shows you Jones’ ceiling as a coach. As a recruiter, he focuses on the home region. Which would be fine if the Mobile area was steeped in talent. The truth is, the talent level doesn’t run deep in the area. Lower Alabama has a rich topsoil of prospects and a hard layer of dirt underneath. Top programs in and out of state poach the topsoil, leaving very little for South.
Also, attendance is near comical. students don’t go to games in the team’s dilapidated off-campus stadium. South will get a couple of home games with strong showings each year. The other four games? Let’s say the administration has to do a little fluffing on its “announced attendance” number.
If the program wants to move up and challenge the top of the Sun Belt, a change needs to be made. Until then, South Alabama will peak at six to seven wins with multiple losing seasons in between. Administration has given Jones a long leash because of the success he had in building the team but perhaps there are other reasons. South wouldn’t exactly get the pick of the litter when it comes to available coaches. Regardless, several low-tier teams have found rising stars in the past.
The program needs a spark and it can find it in a new coach. Someone with a broad reach and innovative mind. Jones is in the midst of his final contract year and if the Jaguars end up 3-9 this season, as I predicted in August, an extension may never be offered.