South Carolina State University search looms as season nears close

Buddy Pough’s coaching days at South Carolina State University are numbered. Saturday’s game against Morgan State is his final game at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium as head football coach. A North Carolina Central win would mean Nov. 18’s game at Norfolk State would be his last game period. 

Pough is currently serving as interim director of athletics at SC State following the resignation of interim AD Keshia Campbell last week. He says he is mostly sticking to coaching — for now. 

“You’ve got to focus in on the task ahead. That’s the most important thing that I do,” Pough told the media on the weekly MEAC call. “And I kinda push most of the administrative stuff off on some of the administrative types that we’ve got here in the department. So they handle most of that stuff. And then they come to me from time to time to ask questions.”

Pough made it clear, though, that he’s not looking to take on that role permanently. 

“I’m going home and we’re going to find us a AD too at the same time, somewhere in the same facility where we find the head football coach,” Pough said. “We may have about A.D. before we find a football coach, but I can tell you that, no, I am not a candidate for a job.”

Buddy Pough picked up his 150th win as a college head coach on Saturday. (Steven J. Gaither)

Pough admitted he would likely be involved in finding his successor.

“I’ll be somewhat involved, I don’t know to what level. I mean until you hire a guy you don’t know,” Pough said. “I would say so if it’s your guy or not. So in a case where I’ll be involved…yes, I will be. But now who knows how much?”

Perhaps the worst kept secret in all of HBCU football is that Benedict College head coach Chennis Berry is the odds-on favorite to take the mantle when Pough rides off into the sunset. When asked if he was aware of Berry, who coaches an hour down the road in Columbia. Pough said not only is he aware of him, but the two are friends, noting that he spoke at the Orangeburg Touchdown Club recently.

South Carolina State University has been a bastion of stability over the past 50 years, with only four head coaches in that span, which includes two stints for Willie Jeffries. Both Jeffries and Pough are SC State alumni who have had lots of success, but that doesn’t mean that the next SC State coach will be a branch off the Bulldog tree. 

“I don’t think so. I think they’ll try to pick the best guy available,” Pough said. “The one thing you’ve got to remember is that this is not a deal here for a couple of years. You know, we’re  looking for a guy for the long haul. We’ve had two coaches now in maybe 30 odd years. So it’s not a deal where you’re going to come in here and expect to be out of here the next year.”

Buddy Pough said that whoever takes the job next will have a team loaded with young talent, which he thinks will make the job even more attractive. 

“I think it helps also to help us recruit a guy, to get a coach to come in here. Because nobody wants to come the job where he’s having to start up from scratch. So I can tell you that our entire offensive line returns next year. All of our running backs, and we’ve got a couple of young freshmen quarterbacks I like for us too. Sophomores, actually, now. So we’ve got people in place that’ll give you an opportunity to continue to have a successful program here. So whoever gets the job is going to get an opportunity to come in and kind of get a fast car running. They just gotta jump on.”

South Carolina State University search looms as season nears close

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