Big changes to head football coaching positions in Mississippi announced Tuesday

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Big changes to head coaching positions in Mississippi were announced Tuesday for both Alcorn State University and Mississippi College.


Mississippi College announced Tuesday that it has hired Rice assistant Mike Kershaw as its next football head coach.

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Kershaw spent the past five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Rice.

He helped the Owls reach back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2012-14. They will play Texas State in the First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 in Dallas.

Kershaw will replace John Bland, who stepped down in November after 10 seasons.

“Mike Kershaw’s extensive coaching background and success in developing talent align perfectly with our vision for the football program,” Mississippi College athletics director Kenny Bizot said in a statement.

Kershaw’s hire by Mississippi College marks his return to the Magnolia State. He played quarterback for Delta State and led the Statesmen to the Gulf South Conference championship in 1998. After graduating, Kershaw joined Delta State’s coaching staff and had several roles including recruiting coordinator from 2004-06.


There’s a new football chief on The Reservation.

Alcorn State University moved quickly to replace outgoing head coach Fred McNair by promoting defensive coordinator Cedric Thomas to head coach.

Over the past week, McNair has reportedly been in negotiations to become Texas Southern’s head coach. In announcing that McNair would not return for the 2024 season, Alcorn State interim director of intercollegiate athletics Robert Raines said the university and coach were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract.

“We worked diligently to extend Coach McNair a multi-year contract which would have placed him in the top tier of the conference with both compensation, incentives, and additional incentives for assistant coaches. Unfortunately, we could not reach a mutual agreement,” Raines said in a statement.

The promotion of Thomas was announced about an hour after the university issued its statement about McNair.

Thomas rejoined Alcorn’s staff in March 2022 following previous stints as the defensive backs coach from 2012-15, and as the defensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017.

In between his two stints as Alcorn’s defensive coordinator, Thomas spent two seasons as the head coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff; one as Southern Miss’ defensive backs coach; and another as the head coach at Mississippi Delta Community College.

“I am extremely humbled, thankful, and honored for this opportunity to lead the Alcorn State University Braves as the new head football coach,” Thomas said in a school release. “I want to continue to build on the foundation that was laid before me by so many legendary coaches, players, and staff. We will continue to make the University and alumni base proud of our championship culture.”

Thomas and McNair were both key parts of the revitalization of Alcorn’s football program over the past decade.