Hudspeth named Cajuns coach

LAFAYETTE – It became official Monday morning. The Ragin’ Cajuns named Mark Hudspeth their 25th head coach at a 10 a.m. press conference.

UL-Lafayette confirmed the reports that surfaced Friday afternoon Sunday in a brief statement that invited the public to Monday’s press conference.

Hudspeth, 42, is a native of Louisville, Miss. Over his 19-year coaching career, he has cumulated a national championship, four conference championship, eight post-season appearances and four Coach of the Year awards. He spent nine seasons as a head coach and over that time he amassed a 91-21 record.

Hudspeth moves from Mississippi State University where he was the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for two seasons under Dan Mullen.

University President Dr. E. Joseph Savoie and Athletic Director David Walker were on hand Monday to make the announcment.

“We were very fortunate to have many extremely qualified candidates express an interest in becoming the next Ragin’ Cajuns head football coach,” said Walker. “Each one possessed qualities that we felt would benefit our program. Many are outstanding coaches and outstanding recruiters. All expressed a commitment to the academic success of their student-athletes and most were very involved in their community. Each candidate is an exceptional individual.

“Coach Hudspeth possesses all of these qualities and we are extremely excited that he will lead our football program.”

“I can honestly say that I am proud and honored to be the head football coach of the University of Louisiana; it’s great to be a Ragin’ Cajun,” said Hudspeth.

“What makes a university special is the people,” he said, “and everyone that we’ve met has embraced us and opened their arms and told us that this place is like a ticking time bomb ready to go off.

“And we’re ready to light that fuse.”

During the press conference, Hudspeth stated that he wanted the job more than anyone in the country, citing the university’s unlimited potential and the state’s exceptional high school talent that he vowed to keep in state.

“We’re going to put a fence around this state, and we’re going to build a program with Louisiana high school football players,” said Hudspeth.

Prior to his Mississippi State coaching stop, Hudspeth spent seven seasons as the head coach of the North Alabama Lions. He led the team to a 66-20 record, a pair of Gulf South Conference championships, five NCAA playoff appearances and the team had 15 All-Americans. Attendance also skyrocketed 122 percent, while the team’s grade point average rose a full point to 2.76, the highest GPA in the school’s history.

The Lions’ offense under Hudspeth averaged 35 points per game.

Hudspeth was also an offensive coordinator at the United States Naval Academy from 2000-01, a strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater Delta State University from 1999-2000, head coach at Winston Academy in 1996 and 1997, a wide receivers/tight ends coach from 1994-95 at Nicholls State and he started his career as a graduate assistant at Central Arkansas from 1992-93.

Hudspeth was a four-year letterman at Delta State University from 1987-91. In 1990 he was the starting safety, leading the team in interceptions, and in 1991, he was the starting quarterback.

He graduated in 1992 with his bachelor’s degree from Delta University and then from Central Arkansas with his master’s in 1993.

But, it was his time at Mississippi State that has really caught the national eye. The Bulldogs finished this season with an 8-4 record and will play in the Gator Bowl versus Michigan later this year. The 2010 season was only the second winning season in 10 years for the school.

Hudspeth’s hiring is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. He received a five-year agreement from the university.

Hudspeth was born on November 10, 1968. He is married to the former Tyla McConnell and has two sons–Gunner and Major–and one daughter–Carley.

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