The game at Alabama A&M represented Derrick McCall’s first as a head coach. A week later, McCall recorded his first win as Jackson State’s interim coach against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The victory likely wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the man he’ll be coaching against on Saturday, when the Tigers face their former coach, Rick Comegy, and Mississippi Valley State.
McCall served as a receivers coach on Comegy’s staff and eventually moved up to offensive coordinator during Comegy’s final two seasons, 2012 and 2013, when JSU (2-5, 2-3 SWAC) appeared in back-to-back SWAC title games.
“He personally helped me in so many ways … he was responsible for bringing me to Jackson State and making me a coordinator while I was here,” McCall said during the SWAC teleconference on Monday. “I know Rick Comegy very well and he’s a genius in terms of defensive schemes. He’s going against some of the players he’s coached before. Being a part of that, he’ll try to rip your heart and we do understand that. He’ll give it back to you, by the way, but guys understand we have to go to Valley and be ready to play a very tough football game.”
Comegy was fired in December 2013 and led the Delta Devils (0-8, 0-6 SWAC) to a surprising 27-23 victory against JSU in his first meeting against his old team last season.
That win came against Harold Jackson, so this will be Comegy’s first time coaching head-to-head with McCall, whom he considers “a really close friend.”
“I know he loves the game. I know he’s excited, I’m happy for him. I don’t think there’s a better person they could have chosen to step up and take the reigns at this point,” Comegy said. “He’s a guy that will love the team, he’s a guy that will motivate them … he’s going to work. He’s not going to sit back. He’s going to dot all of his I’s and cross his T’s. I’m excited about it and happy for him and his family … I know he wants to come out with the win as well as I.”
The thirst for a win should be there for the Delta Devils, who are currently on a 12-game losing streak.
The Tigers have appeared to make some progress under McCall’s leadership, though. The defense has allowed less than 300 yards in consecutive games, and the offense just posted a season-high 37 points against the Golden Lions.