Southern Miss

Southern Miss fans were dealt two blows on a difficult Sunday

Sunday was not the best of days to be a Southern Miss fan.

The USM football team was denied its fourth consecutive bowl trip and East Carolina has hired the school’s athletic director, Jon Gilbert.

Brian Bailey of WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina, first reported Sunday morning that Gilbert will soon be announced as the new East Carolina athletic director.

The Sun Herald confirmed Sunday afternoon that Gilbert has been offered the job and that he has accepted. The hiring is expected to be announced Monday.

USM has had three full-time athletic directors since Richard Giannini stepped down in 2011. Jeff Hammond served in the full-time role for one year after Giannini left and Bill McGillis was hired away by the University of San Diego in late 2016.

Eagles denied bid

USM, which has been bowl-eligible in 22 of the last 25 seasons, rallied to earn bowl eligibility by winning three of its final four games to finish the season with a 6-5 record.

It will mark the first time since 2014 that USM has been left out of the postseason.

A 21-20 loss to Louisiana-Monroe in the second game of the season and 20-17 defeat at Charlotte on Oct. 27 proved costly in USM’s pursuit of a bowl bid.

This is far from the only time that USM has missed out on a bowl bid despite winning six games or more. The last instance took place in 2001 when the Golden Eagles finished 6-5 under former coach Jeff Bower. Since 1975, USM has been left out of the postseason 14 times after hitting the six-win mark.

USM was one of four bowl-eligible teams to not receive a bowl invitation this year, joining Louisiana-Monroe (6-6), Miami-Ohio (6-6) and Wyoming (6-6).

MSU going bowling

The only FBS squad from Mississippi that earned a bowl invitation this season is Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs (8-4) will take on Iowa (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and the game will be shown on ESPN2.

This will mark the first time the two teams have played.

Tickets for the Outback Bowl are on sale now at and start at $80.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee.