USM Interim Head Coach Scotty Walden accepts Austin Peay job

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The Southern Miss football program was already three head coaches into the 2020 season with Scotty Walden missing the team’s last game due to COVID-19. But now, he’ll be missing all the other games for a very different reason.

As first reported by Yahoo! Sports, and later confirmed by the university through a release, Walden has accepted the head coaching position at Austin Peay, effectively leaving the Golden Eagles with an interim to the interim in the form of Tim Billings.

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The Black and Gold were just 1-3 under the 30-year-old Walden, the youngest FBS coach in the nation, who took over for Jay Hopson when he resigned following USM’s season opening home loss to South Alabama.

It’s been a hectic season for Southern Miss who’s already missed two games against Florida Atlantic and UTEP due to COVID-19.

However, Walden did secure his first-ever FBS head coaching win over North Texas and is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming offensive minds.

Here’s a statement from Southern Miss Athletic Director Jeremy McClain: “We are excited for Scotty and his family as they begin this new journey and we wish them nothing but the best. As we adjust, I have asked Tim Billings to take over the interim head coach role and I have full confidence in his ability to successfully lead our team for the rest of the season.”

Coaching Billings said, “Earlier in life, you’re excited about being a head coach and you’re like this is a stepping stone to the next head coaching job to the next head coaching job, and this is totally different. I’m here in a situation where I’m excited and proud to be the head coach at Southern Miss. I love Southern Miss. I love Hattiesburg. My wife and I love it here, and we may end up retiring here someday. But I know that I’m not going to be the next head coach here and that’s fine. I hope they pick a great football coach here for these young men. They need it.”

According to the Sun Herald, Southern Miss is looking to improve the budget for its coaching staff which was last in Conference USA into the top five for the next hire.