Southern Miss

Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson has filled a spot on his staff

Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson has his new head strength and conditioning coach.

USM has hired Jim Durning, who held the same position at Charlotte since 2012, Hopson confirmed to to the Sun Herald. was the first to report the news.

He replaces SaJason Finley, who was relieved of his duties earlier this month after working four seasons on the staff at USM.

Durning, a he native of Wilmington, Delaware, is a 1992 graduate of Marshall who served as a captain on the Thundering Herd’s Div. 1-AA national championship squad in 1992.

After serving as a graduate assistant at Marshall from 1994-96, Durning worked as a strength and conditioning coach under Jim Donnan at Georgia. Prior to joining the staff at Charlotte, he spent 13 years in the same role at James Madison.

Charlotte has been a thorn in USM’s side since Hopson was hired as head coach prior to the 2016 campaign, winning two of three from the Golden Eagles.

While Charlotte has yet to gain bowl eligibility since joining C-USA in football in 2015, it developed a reputation as a sturdy, hard-nosed squad that ran the ball well under former head coach Brad Lambert. After a 21-48 run at the school, Lambert was fired in November.

Charlotte was the much more physical team in 2016 when the 49ers thumped USM 38-27 in Hattiesburg. USM wasn’t helped by the fact that quarterback Nick Mullens was injured during the first half, but Charlotte out-gained the Golden Eagles 303-94 on the ground.

The next year, Ito Smith and the Golden Eagles earned revenge in Hattiesburg with a 66-21 beating of the 49ers.

Charlotte again stunned USM during the 2018 campaign, 20-17, in North Carolina.

Hopson is also looking to replace offensive line coach Erik Losey, who was also let go this month, and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who is now a member of the staff at Houston.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.