STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Joey Jones, the former South Alabama head coach who guided the Jaguars to 52 victories and two bowl appearances, has been tabbed as Mississippi State’s new special teams coordinator, head coach Joe Moorhead announced on Thursday.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Joey’s caliber and experience join our Bulldog family,” Moorhead said. “Joey is a terrific man who has coached for nearly three decades in the region, including 10 seasons as a head coach. He is going to play a vital role in our recruiting efforts in addition to his duties as special teams coordinator.”
Jones is the third Bulldog assistant coach to join Moorhead’s staff who previously served as a collegiate head coach, including associate head coach and tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth (Louisiana) and pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andrew Breiner (Fordham).
“Joe Moorhead is a first class man and coach, and I want to thank him for this tremendous opportunity,” Jones said. “Secondly, coaching in the best football conference in the country has always been a goal of mine. The Jones family is thrilled to join the Bulldog family, and we look forward to being a part of the great tradition here at Mississippi State.”
Jones’ accomplishments were long and distinguished during his nine-year head coaching tenure with the Jaguars since the inception of the program in December 2007. USA produced 48 All-Sun Belt Conference recipients in his last six seasons, 23 professional players and 15 individuals who signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams.
Jones’ attention to special teams was evident in 2017 as USA ranked second nationally in ESPN.com’s special teams efficiency rating (74.0) behind only Kansas State.
Jones led USA to wins in each of its first 19 contests, which including posting a 7-0 mark in the program's inaugural season of 2009 and a 10-0 record the following fall. He guided the Jags through the transition to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and competition in the Sun Belt Conference. After being picked to finish seventh out of eight teams prior to the start of the 2013 campaign, he was chosen the league's Coach of the Year for directing the Jaguars to a tie for third in the final standings.
In addition to helping USA to a winning conference record in 2014, Jones was responsible for leading the program to its first two bowl appearances — the 2014 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and the 2016 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
The 2016 season under his watch saw the Jaguars tally two historic victories. USA defeated Mississippi State in Starkville for its first-ever win over a Southeastern Conference foe, and one month later the Jags picked up their initial victory over a nationally-ranked school with a 42-24 defeat of No. 19 San Diego State. Jones finished with a 52-50 record in his nine seasons at USA.
The Mobile, Ala., native is no stranger to building programs from the ground up at both the high school and collegiate level in the South. He returned to his hometown after two years at Birmingham-Southern, where he was hired in 2006 to restart the school’s football program there. After spending a year overseeing administrative aspects of the program such as hiring assistant coaches, designing facilities and recruiting players for the Division III program, he led his 2007 squad of 126 freshmen to a 3-7 overall record, including a pair of wins over established junior-college programs.
Success has followed Jones throughout his career, both as a coach and as a player. Before moving into the college ranks, he compiled an impressive 125-38 record in 13 years at the high-school level, including a 10-year run at Birmingham’s Mountain Brook High, where he was 101-27 from 1996-2005.
After inheriting a program that had endured nine consecutive losing seasons, Jones directed the Spartans to the 1996 Class 6A state championship game, four region titles, two semifinal appearances and three quarterfinal appearances during his tenure.
In his second season with the Spartans, they won a postseason contest before falling in the second round in overtime, while his efforts helped MBHS reach the quarterfinals each of the next two falls. Jones led the program to a first-round victory in the 2001 postseason before helping the school return to the state semifinals a year later.
Jones began his head coaching career at Dora High School, where he registered a 24-11 mark in three seasons from 1991-93. It took just one year for him to lead the Bulldogs to postseason action, as they won a first round state 5A playoff contest before falling in overtime in 1992, while his efforts took the school to the quarterfinals the next season. From 1989-90, he served on the Briarwood Christian staff, helping the school to a berth in the quarterfinals of the state 3A playoffs his final year.
A 1989 graduate of Alabama with a degree in business administration, Jones became one of the most beloved Crimson Tide players during his tenure, which began under the tutelage of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He finished his career with 71 receptions, 1,386 yards and 15 touchdowns, ranking fourth on the career touchdown receptions chart and seventh in career receiving yards. As a junior in 1982, Jones had eight touchdown receptions, which ranks tied for third in Alabama single-season history.
Jones earned All-SEC honors as a senior after hauling in 31 receptions for 468 yards and five scores. He was later selected to Alabama’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s and played professionally with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
In April 2011, Jones was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.
Jones and his wife, Elise, have three children, Joe Jr., Jake and Caroline.
The Joey Jones File
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
Education: Alabama, 1989 (business administration)
Children: Joe Jr., Jake, Caroline
Birthday: October 29, 1962
2018-present: Mississippi State (Special Teams Coordinator)
2008-17: South Alabama (Head Coach)
2006-07: Birmingham-Southern (Head Coach)
1996-2005: Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School (Head Coach)
1991-93: Dora (Ala.) High School (Head Coach)
1989-90: Briarwood Christian High School (Assistant Coach)
Bowl Games as a Coach
2016: Arizona Bowl (South Alabama)
2014: Camellia Bowl (South Alabama)