HATTIESBURG • Could there be a better core value for the Golden Eagles than the Golden Rule?
Will Hall doesn’t think so.
The former Amory High School star is beginning his first season as a Division I head coach at the University of Southern Mississippi.
After last summer’s social justice movement, COVID-19 and its lingering effects, now Name, Image and Likeness and looming realignment some might think it’s a difficult time to sit in the big chair for the first time.
Hall doesn’t see it that way.
“Things that have stood the test of time are treating people the right way, loving everybody. Treating others the way you want to be treated. I don’t think that’s ever gone out of style,” he says.
Most football programs starting over with a new head coach find themselves in need of some level of emotional healing.
For the Golden Eagles, hard times came rather quickly.
They had gotten off to a 5-1 conference start in 2019 and were in position to win CUSA’s West Division.
They lost their last three games – one in the Armed Forces Bowl against Tulane where Hall was offensive coordinator – and after a season-opening loss last year to South Alabama coach Jay Hopson resigned.
Amid the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, college football players at many schools raised their voices to protest perceived injustices in their communities as well as nationally.
Last August, Southern Miss players – like other football players in Mississippi – participated in a peaceful march to draw attention to racism and concerns about some police actions.
“The social justice deal was real. We’ve got problems in this country that need to be fixed … but there are way more good people in this world than bad. Now Twitter’s not going to tell you that,” Hall said.
The Golden Eagles limped to a 3-7 finish under two different interim coaches in 2020.
Now Hall, the fourth head coach in less than a year, hopes his time-tested approach brings togetherness in the locker room and wins on the field.
He wants to give his players space to express themselves while holding them accountable at the same time.
Hall said Southern Miss players understand they can talk to he and his staff about more than football.
“We love our players, and we listened to them through the social justice movement,” he said. “What we tell our players is it’s never selfish to chase after your hopes and dreams as long as you’re not pushing others down to do it. We talk about the Golden Rule. It’s one of our six core values which is treat others the way you want to be treated right?”