HATTIESBURG, Miss (WDAM) – While in the process of possibly filling one major opening on his staff this weekend, University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson discovered another empty position had been created.
Footballscoop.com reported that Hopson is bringing back Tony Pecoraro to fill the defensive vacancy created when co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Derek Nicholson left USM to coach inside linebackers at the University of Louisville.
Pecoraro had been defensive coordinator for four years at Alcorn State University before following Hopson to Hattiesburg.
He spent two seasons in Hattiesburg as defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, then left to become defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic University in 2018.
After being cut loose from the Owls, Pecoraro spent 2019 as a senior analyst/defense on Les Miles’ staff at the University of Kansas.
It was not clear what position Pecoraro would coach upon his return to the Golden Eagles or whether associate head coach/safeties coach Tim Billings would retain his duties as co-defensive coordinator.
On the other side of the football, the Golden Eagles will be operating with a new offensive coordinator for the third season in a row.
Hopson confirmed Monday morning that USM offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner had left the staff and was headed to the University of Georgia as an assistant coach on the Bulldogs’ offensive staff.
Faulkner spent one season in Hattiesburg, running an offense that led Conference USA in passing at 289.5 yards a game and was in the middle of the pack nationally at 407 total yards per game.
Faulkner will join former USM head coach Todd Monken in Athens. Monken, who helmed the Golden Eagles from 2013-15, was hired as Georgia’s offensive coordinator last week.
Faulkner tweeted a thank you Monday morning to Hopson and the players he worked with during his time in Hattiesburg.
Faulkner replaced Shannon Dawson, who left for the University of Houston after three years on Hopson’s staff.
Dawson joined the Cougars’ staff as tight ends coach in 2019. He recently was named UH’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.