Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor becomes 3rd Big 12 team to postpone opener after La Tech outbreak

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WACO, Texas — Baylor became the third Big 12 team forced to postpone its scheduled season opener this weekend after Louisiana Tech reported multiple positive COVID-19 tests Tuesday, less than two weeks after a hurricane affected its campus.

Louisiana Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland said Tuesday night that it wasn’t possible for the Bulldogs to play Saturday at Baylor because of the positive tests and contact tracing that would keep other players out the game.

The school didn’t provide any specific numbers, but said there was a spike in cases in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 that impacted the campus in Ruston, Louisiana, which is more than 200 miles inland. McClelland the school had only one positive case in the three weeks before the current outbreak, an indication that protocols in place were working.

“With 95% of our city losing power for days – even up to a week in many areas – our student-athletes were forced to find places to stay and some even had family from south Louisiana that came northward to stay with them,” McClelland said. “So many things that we were able to control for the month of August became out of our control, and I think the numbers prove that it took its toll.”

No makeup date was announced.

The Louisiana Tech-Baylor game is the 10th Division I game that has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus, including Big 12 games SMU at TCU and Tulsa at Oklahoma State. The other postponed games are: North Carolina State at Virginia Tech, Temple at Navy, ULM at Troy, Marshall at East Carolina, and three Rice games – against Houston, Marshall and UAB.

TCU had to put off its scheduled opener Friday night after a virus outbreak last week among a cluster of Horned Frogs players and support staff. Oklahoma State has pushed back its opener against Tulsa a week to Sept. 19 after the Golden Hurricane were limited during preseason camp because of multiple positive tests.

Seven Big 12 teams are still scheduled to play Saturday.

“We are incredibly disappointed to announce the postponement of our upcoming football game against Louisiana Tech,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said. “However, in the interest of the health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff, we are confident in this unfortunate but necessary course of action. To the Baylor and Louisiana Tech student-athletes and communities, we share in your disappointment and look ahead to resuming play.”

The game was supposed to be the debut of new Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, the defensive coordinator last season for 15-0 national champion LSU. He replaced Matt Rhule, who was hired by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers after three seasons with the Bears.

Southern Miss’ Hopson out as coach; Walden takes over

Cam Bonelli/Hattiesburg American
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Mississippi coach Jay Hopson said Monday that he has stepped down and co-offensive coordinator Scotty Walden will take over as interim coach.

The school announced the coaching change Monday afternoon in a news release, ending Hopson’s tenure one game into his fifth season. The Golden Eagles lost at home to South Alabama in Thursday’s season opener.

In statements, Hopson described the decision as the result of a “mutual agreement” with athletics director Jeremy McClain, while McClain said Hopson approached him after last week’s loss.

“I am in total agreement with this change in leadership and truly believe it is in the best interest of the players, coaches and this entire program,” Hopson said.

Hopson went 28-23 and reached three bowl games since taking over before the 2016 season. He was also an assistant for Southern Miss from 2001-03 and 2005-07.

Hopson created headlines in 2019 when he interviewed former Baylor head coach Art Briles for a position on his football staff. Briles had been fired after an external investigation revealed in May 2016 that Baylor had for years mishandled numerous sexual assault allegations by students, including some against football players.

That led to a statement from the school saying university president Rodney D. Bennett and interim athletics director Jeff Mitchell had decided Briles was “not a candidate,” while Hopson disagreed and said at the time that Briles “deserves a second chance.”

Walden has spent the past four seasons with the Golden Eagles, with this being his second year as co-offensive coordinator. He was also working as receivers coach. Previously he had been head coach at Division III East Texas Baptist.

Southern Miss hosts Louisiana Tech in Conference USA play on Sept. 19.