From The Clarion Ledger (1.22.14)
When the Belhaven job opened in late December, Hal Mumme wasn’t planning on leaving Southern Methodist University.
The 61-year-old, who was the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at the Division I school near Dallas, knew good things about Belhaven through a former assistant and Blazers coach, Dennis Roland. But Mumme hadn’t been in Jackson for years.
After talking to coaching contacts and friends in the Jackson area, the “Air Raid” innovator found the head coaching job at the NAIA school more appealing. The school announced Mumme’s hiring last Friday and introduced the former Kentucky coach at a Tuesday press conference.
“The allure of being a head coach and being able to run the program was really important to me,” Mumme said. “I felt, in talking to (president) Dr. (Roger) Parrott, (vice president for athletics) Scott (Little), that Belhaven felt right. It seems like a great place. I look forward to winning a lot of football games and representing Belhaven in all the ways they want to be represented.”
When news first leaked that Mumme was leaving the Division I ranks for Belhaven, it stunned numerous football pundits. The natural question was: Why would Mumme leave a major FBS coaching position at SMU for Belhaven?
Mumme saw the reaction. But he said that those who know him best weren’t surprised by his decision. They knew how much he loved coaching small colleges. He got his first head coaching job at Iowa Wesleyan, another NAIA school. He had considerable success at McMurry (Division III) and Valdosta State (Division II).
“I’ve always enjoyed (small colleges),” he said. “It’s probably the most gratifying coaching.”
Mumme’s most famous pupil wasn’t surprised by the move, either.
Tim Couch, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, remembers Mumme liking to call all the shots when the two were at Kentucky together. It was there, in the SEC, that Mumme took his Air Raid offense to the masses and made Couch a household name. Mumme guided the program to two bowl games and wins over top programs like LSU and Alabama before later resigning after an internal investigation revealed recruiting violations.
Couch, who now works as an analyst for Fox Sports South, appreciates his time under Mumme.
“He’s cutting edge,” Couch said. “He’s an innovator in the passing game. He’s always a step ahead of defenses. He’s always on the attack. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win. He’s very confident and very aggressive. He’s the type of guy whose system is proven. Wherever he’s been, his offense has put up big numbers. As a quarterback, that’s what you want to be in.”
At Belhaven, Mumme promises to unveil “Air Raid II.” He wouldn’t give any hints about it Tuesday, but Couch expects it to incorporate some of SMU coach June Jones’ run-and-shoot offense. Mumme has also kept up with some of his Air Raid proteges like Washington State’s Mike Leach and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and tweaked his offense over the years.
But the offense will still be heavily predicated on short passes. The Air Raid is Mumme’s bread-and-butter, and he isn’t changing that at his seventh head college coaching job.
The coaching nomad does hope to stick around for awhile, too.
“I’ve been fortunate to be the head coach at a lot of places,” Mumme said. “I’d like this to be the last one.”