Former Football Coach: Hunsucker | ULM and Mark Hudspeth are a perfect match
Adam Hunsucker, Monroe News-Star, Dec. 8, 2020
Louisiana-Monroe faces a tight deadline in its search for a new football coach. A quick turnaround is ideal with the December Signing Period one week away, but urgency has never been a strength in the athletic department.
Regarded as the toughest job in FBS, ULM’s financial challenges make it a tough sell to the up-and-coming assistant many fans covet. A dalliance for candidates before turning their interest to better opportunities.
Which is why Mark Hudspeth and the Warhawks are perfect for each other.
It’s a self-serving arrangement for both parties. Hudspeth needs a job after resigning at Austin Peay in July. The chances of ULM wooing an established coach with his resume are slim.
Louisiana-Lafayette doesn’t ascend to the Group of Five’s upper echelon without Hudspeth proving it was possible. In Hudspeth’s seven seasons, the Cajuns won nine games each year from 2011-14, played in five bowls and claimed a share of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference title. His lone Austin Peay team went 11-4 and appeared in the FCS quarterfinals.
No program in America asks coaches to do so much with so little like ULM, which Hudspeth did at Division II North Alabama. The Lions won double-digit games five times and three semifinal appearances.
Those are the selling points. There’s also the NCAA sanctions at UL Lafayette and a conduct suspension prior to his resignation at Austin Peay. Known for his tight-fitting shirts and 375-lb. bench press, Hudspeth’s act had worn then when the Cajuns fired him after a 5-7 finish in 2017.
Hudspeth didn’t make any friends at ULM either. He interviewed for the job in 2009 and was passed over for Todd Berry, which he never forgot. His Cajuns went 5-2 against the Warhawks and were part of some infamous Battle on the Bayou games.
In 2011, Hudspeth didn’t shake hands with Berry following a come-from-behind win over ULM. The next season, the Cajuns threw an 81-yard touchdown pass up 10 points on the last play of the game. Hudspeth denied running the score up but wasn’t upset about it either.
Despite all the reasons he should, it’s doubtful ULM athletic director Scott McDonald will pursue Hudspeth. What McDonald needs to understand is this program has nothing left to lose. Fail big this time instead of painting over the same rust every 5-6 years.
Spite is a great motivator and Hudspeth would salivate at the chance to beat the Cajuns. ULM hasn’t had a coach who took such joy in tormenting a rival since Pat Collins sneered at Louisiana Tech from the sideline. Hudspeth offers the perfect mix of the school’s two most successful coaches — Collins’ bravado and Dave Roberts’ relentless recruiting tactics.
The enemy of your enemy can be your friend. Hudspeth’s combustibility rate is high, but if it all goes bad, at least ULM will have done something interesting.
When was the last time that happened?
The thoughts expressed in this column are the opinions of sports writer Adam Hunsucker. Follow Adam on Twitter @adam_hunsucker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org