About Southern Miss Golden Eagles
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles football program represents the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. This Division I program plays in the Conference USA from their home stadium, M.M. Roberts Stadium.
This program has a long and storied history in the NCAA with several sports teams operating under the university’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors. The program has frequently seen appearances in Bowl games, conference championships, and has had more than their fair share of All-American athletes. This includes legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre and NFL punter Ray Guy, who were both USM alumni.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have claimed several division titles, conference titles, and national titles. And they will continue wowing crowds at all of their home games for seasons to come!
MM Roberts Stadium
MM Roberts Stadium was originally called Faulkner Field when it opened in 1932. Back then, the stadium was little more than a field with a wooden grandstand that could seat up to 4,000 spectators at a time. The original name came from L.E. Faulkner, a local businessman who financed the early materials and equipment for the stadium. Unemployed workers built the stadium for free during the Grand Depression.
In 1938, the stadium was updated with permanent concrete stands and a dormitory space for student-athletes on the field’s east side. Southern Miss football players even lent a hand, helping to haul the concrete over during construction.
And it was this heavy concrete hauling work that gave the stadium its nickname “The Rock”, which has lasted through today.
The stadium faced a second expansion in 1950 when a 7,500 seat west Stadium Dormitory stands were added. Then 2,000 bleacher seats were added along with brand new stadium lights as well as a new scoreboard. By then, the stadium was large enough to seat 15,000 spectators, more than 200% compared to the very first stadium.
But the stadium wasn’t done yet.
1989 saw the addition of the current press box as well as other improvements over the following years. This includes a field house and training facility that opened in 2002, the Momentum Turf Field added in 2004, and a name change in the summer of that same year. In 2008, the university opened an addition that enclosed the south end zone, adding nearly 4,000 seats and 33 specialty suites.
Today, the stadium has a capacity of 36,000 spectators. But even this wasn’t enough, since the university’s record attendance was on September 5, 2015, when 36,641 football fans came out to see the Golden Eagles face off against their rival, Mississippi State.
There’s a lot to see and enjoy at Southern Mississippi’s “The Rock”.
The University of Southern Mississippi first fielded a football team in 1912 under the leadership of coach Ronald Slay. Since then, the team has remained a part of college football sports excluding a few short stints during World Wars I and II. In these early years, the football program was reaching its stride, which came to a golden period under Thad Vann’s leadership, where the team only had 1 losing season out of 20.
But Golden Eagles fans will point to the Bobby Collins era, between 1975 and 1981 as being one of the most interesting periods for the program. During these years, the team had compiled a 48-30-2 record and made two bowl appearances; the Independence Bowl and Tangerine Bowl games in 1980 and 1981. His 1981 team finished ranked No. 19 in the final coaches poll. Bobby Collins left the program after the 1981 season to pursue a head football coach position at SMU.
Ten years later, in 1991, the team entered the Jeff Bower era. Jeff Bower had returned to his alma mater and led the Golden Eagles to an incredible 14 consecutive winning seasons, the fifth longest in college football history. In addition, he led the team to 10 bowl games out of his last 11 seasons. His leadership led to two Liberty Bowl wins, two New Orleans Bowl victories, a GMAC Bowl victory, and a Mobile Alabama Bowl victory. His work on forging USM excellence and dominance led to his being named Conference USA’s “Coach of the Decade” in 2004.
Bower resigned after the 2007 season with an overall record of 119-83-1. And this winning record is the largest held by any head coach in USM football history.
Bower’s 119 wins are currently the most held by any head coach in USM football history.
Today, head coach Will Hall will be leading the team for his 1st season with the program. But with a team that has earned over 500 career wins, he has a lot of talent to work with.
Golden Eagles Achievements
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have been around long enough to earn quite a few achievements to their name. These include winning national championships in 1958 and 1962 under head coach Thad Vann. Both seasons were incredibly strong with a 9-0 and 9-1 record respectively.
The program has also won 8 conference championships ranging from their first in 1948 to their most recent in 2011. They have also won 3 Division championships from 2006 under coach Jeff Bower to their 2011 and 2015 seasons under coach Larry Fedora and Todd Monken respectively. As you can guess, the team has also made 24 major bowl game appearances from 1953 to 2019, with a total record of 11-13. And the players have also earned distinction in the history of the program. With 78 consensus All-American players being named from the program’s incredible rosters.
And speaking about rosters, NFL football fans can’t forget how many star athletes have earned their stripes and skills as part of the Golden Eagles.
This list includes:
Wilson, known as “Thunderfoot” was an incredible punter for the Kansas City Chiefs for 15 seasons (1963-1977) before ending his career in 1978 with the New England Patriots. Besides being a punter, he also served as a backup running back early in his career, rushing 53 yards on 22 carries. Wilson earned a place in the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1988.
Guy was the first pure punter to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft. He joined The Raiders with the 23rd overall selection of the 1973 draft. He remained with the Raiders from then to 1986 and was a three time Super Bowl champion, a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team, and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team among other accolades.
Favre entered the NFL as a second round draft choice (33rd overall) for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1992 NFL Draft. Favre has since then guided the Green Bay Packers to their Super Bowl XXXI championship and earned three consecutive AP NFL MVP awards. He also owns the iron man record for most consecutive games started at an unbelievable 297 games. In addition, he was part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.