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By Andy Baeuerle

 

Rarely has there ever been a football coach to serve at all three major universities in Mississippi. Jim Carmody is the first to do so on two separate occasions.

Born on August 24, 1933, in Shreveport, Louisiana, James Edward Carmody, Jr. played football and baseball in high school, earning three letters. He then attended Copiah-Lincoln Junior College from 1952 to 1954 before transferring to Tulane University, where he was a two-year football letterman. Also, while at Tulane, Carmody was one of the starters at the first night game at Tulane Stadium.

Jim Carmody’s first coaching job came with the Armed Services Coach in Korea in 1957 and 58. He then became an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, Holy Cross High School in New Orleans from in 1959 and 60, when he moved to coach at Tulane University from 1961-1962. Carmody then transferred to Tulane’s SEC rival Kentucky to coach from 1963 to 1964. In 1964, Carmody was hired at Mississippi State, a job he held until 1967. In 1967, Carmody was hired as an assistant coach on Bill Dooley’s staff for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He held that position until 1973. Carmody returned to Mississippi in 1974 to serve under Ken Cooper at Ole Miss until 1976. In 1978, Carmody moved to Hattiesburg to coach at Southern Miss under USM legend Bobby Collins. From 1978-1980, Carmody helped form one of the best-ever Southern Miss defense lineups. Since then, the Southern Miss defense has been known as the “Nasty Bunch,” also earning Carmody the nickname “The Big Nasty.” After leaving the Golden Eagles, Coach Carmody was hired as the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills in 1981.

In 1982, Southern Miss head coach Bobby Collins accepted the head coaching job at SMU. Jim Carmody was hired to take Collins’ place in Hattiesburg. In Carmody’s first season, Southern Miss made national headlines when the Golden Eagles defeated Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide 38-29 in Tuscaloosa, ending Alabama’s 56-home game win streak. This game would also end up being the last game Coach Bryant would play or lose in Tuscaloosa before his retirement and death. The Tide had not lost a home game since 1963. Southern Miss had not beaten Alabama since 1954. In 1984, Southern Miss came under NCAA sanctions after freshman linebacker Don Palmer alleged he had been paid with basketball tickets, clothing, cash and transportation to USM to play football for the college. As a result, Carmody’s salary in ‘84 was frozen. In his six seasons as head coach, Carmody led the Eagles to 5 winning seasons and a 37-29 record. Carmody coached quarterback Reggie Collier, and recruited quarterback Brett Favre from Kiln, Mississippi. In the 1987 season, the Golden Eagles became the first historically white university in Mississippi to play a MS HBCU. The Eagles defeated W.C. Gorden’s Jackson State Tigers 17-7 in front of an overpacked M.M. Roberts Stadium. Carmody praised the Tigers after the game, stating “The players were well coached and talented and could beat a lot of the better teams on our schedule.” Carmody’s Eagles were also 11-4 against in-state rivals Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

After the 1987 season, Carmody left the Golden Eagles. After taking time off, he was hired as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. He served in 1989 and 1990 under head coach Rocky Felker. The Bulldogs’ defense improved from 89th nationally to 15th under Carmody. In 1992, Carmody was hired as Ole Miss’ assistant head coach and defensive line coach under head coaches Billy Brewer and Joe Lee Dunn. In 1992, 93, and 94, the Rebels’ defense ranked #6,#1, and #17 respectively. Coach Carmody also served as a scout for the Arizona Cardinals from 1995-2005 when he officially retired.

After a short illness, Coach Carmody passed away on Thursday, January 5 in Madison, Mississippi, at the age of 89. Coach Carmody’s legacy will live in the multiple positions he served at MS State, Ole Miss, and Southern Miss, as well as the many young men he coached all around the nation. When asked about being the first to serve in two different positions at all three major universities in Mississippi, Carmody laughed and said “I guess that says I didn’t burn any bridges.”

 

Awards and inductions of Coach Carmody:

  • 3 Letters in both Football and Baseball at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans, LA
  • Co-Lin Sports Hall of Fame, 1993
  • Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, 2009
  • University of Southern Mississippi Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Co-Lin Alumnus of the Year, 2014
  • Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame, 2020
  • Jim Carmody Scholarship Fund at Southern Miss

 

A memorial service will be held for Coach Carmody on January 12, at 3 p.m. at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame or the Jim Carmody Scholarship Fund at Southern Miss.

 

Jim Carmody’s MS Sports Hall of Fame Page: https://msfame.com/inductees/james-carmody/

 

Southern Miss vs. Mississippi State, 1986, voted as Southern Miss’5th greatest game in history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfncL2P8YeE

 

Southern Miss vs. Alabama, 1982, voted as Southern Miss’ greates game in history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3nmmwDyHEo

 

MageeNews.com is a news source covering Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.

 

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