Former Prairie View A&M University football head coach Eric Dooley is heading to a head coaching Southern University at Baton Rouge! Get the full story from The Advocate, written by Jim Kleinpeter with a contribution from Perryn Keys.
Eric Dooley is coming home.
The Prairie View head coach and former longtime Southern University assistant has agreed to take over the Jaguars, the school announced Monday.
Dooley, who guided Prairie View to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game this season, will be introduced in a news conference at noon Tuesday in the A.W. Mumford Field House.
Dooley, 56, replaces interim coach Jason Rollins, who took over in May when Dawson Odums resigned following the SWAC’s abbreviated spring season. Odums spent nine-plus seasons at Southern, winning four Western Division titles and the outright SWAC championship in 2013.
Rollins led the Jaguars to a 4-7 record this fall. They dropped four of their final five games, including losses to their top three rivals — Florida A&M, Jackson State and Grambling.
Southern did not specify what role, if any, Rollins will have with the program moving forward and has not yet announced contract terms for Dooley, who finished his fourth season in charge at Prairie View.
Dooley’s coaching journey has brought him back where he started. He is an alumnus of the Southern system, having earned his undergraduate degree at SUNO in 1999 and his master’s degree from the Baton Rouge campus in 2005.
A New Orleans native and Fortier High School graduate, he was a wide receiver at Grambling in the late 1980s, and after a brief playing career in Canada, Dooley got his big break in 1997, when joined Pete Richardson’s staff. He stayed at Southern through 2010, working for 13 years under Richardson and one more under Stump Mitchell.
Dooley had several duties at Southern but spent most of his time as wide receivers coach, playing a vital role in some of the most dominant offenses in the SWAC.
The Jaguars won four SWAC titles during that time (1997-99, 2003) and two Black college national championships (’97, ’03).
All the while, Dooley, with his easygoing nature and earnest approach, earned a reputation as an effective recruiter, reeling in some of Louisiana’s best hidden-gem athletes to Baton Rouge.
Dooley left Southern in 2011 to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff under Monte Coleman. The Golden Lions’ offense improved each year on Dooley’s watch, and in 2012 they won their first outright SWAC championship since 1966.
Dooley then moved to Grambling, where his offense averaged at least 31 points per game and ranked first or second in the SWAC in scoring each of his final three seasons.
That led to Dooley’s fourth stop at a SWAC school. At 52, he got his first shot at being a head coach, taking over at Prairie View in 2018.
He got off to a slow start. Prairie View went .500 over his first two years, and the Panthers managed just three wins in the 2021 spring season, undone by COVID-19.
This year, however, was a breakthrough. Prairie View roared out of the gate, winning seven of its first eight games to claim the Western Division.
The Panthers entered Saturday’s SWAC championship game on a losing streak, having dropped three straight — including a surprising 24-19 home defeat against Mississippi Valley.
Dooley coached four seasons at Prairie View and compiled a 20-16 overall record with a 16-9 mark in SWAC play.
Jackson State defeated Prairie View 27-10 in the title game.
Two days later, Southern announced Dooley as the 20th head football coach in school history.
He takes over a program teeming with potential but in need of a boost. Though the Jaguars came close several times under Odums, their SWAC championship drought now stands at eight years. Since the legendary Arnett W. Mumford retired in 1961, the Jaguars have gone through 12 coaches. Only two of them won an outright SWAC title — Richardson (five times) and Odums (once).