By David Brandt
AP Sports Writer
JACKSON – Jackson State hired former Tigers player and NFL standout Harold Jackson as its football coach.
Jackson replaces Rick Comegy, who was fired in December after eight seasons. Jackson State had an 8-4 record this fall, but lost to Southern in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.
The 68-year-old Jackson played for Jackson State in the 1960s. He had a 16-year NFL career, including stops with the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
Jackson has also had a lengthy career as an assistant coach at the NFL and college levels. His most recent job was as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League in 2012.
The school introduced Jackson during a Monday press conference on campus. Jackson State spokesman Eric Stringfellow said Jackson has a three-year contract that will pay $260,000 annually.
Comegy made about $200,000 in his final season with the Tigers.
“I want to thank you for this opportunity to come back home,” Jackson said. “I’m not a big speaker — I believe in action. We’re going to put the excitement and the product on the field. We’re going to be disciplined.”
Jackson, a Mississippi native, said he would concentrate on recruiting local athletes before venturing out of the state. The school said one reason Comegy was fired — despite a 55-35 record — was because of his reluctance to recruit players from central Mississippi.
“We’re going to do Mississippi first because this is where our fan base is,” Jackson said. “We want to put people in the stands.”
There will be pressure to win quickly. Jackson State has advanced to the SWAC championship game in back-to-back seasons, but lost both times. The school’s most recent league championship was in 2007.
“I think we’ve inherited a great football team,” Jackson said. “I just want to go and finish what they’ve started.”