South Is ‘Just Right’ for Coach Major Applewhite

Posted on June 5, 2024 by Marketing and Communications
Marketing and Communications


Coach Major Applewhite and his family




University of South Alabama Jaguars Head Football Coach Major Applewhite and his family — wife, Julie, daughter, Lila, and son, Nash — have called Mobile home for the past three years. After serving as the team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons, he became the fourth head coach in USA football history in January 2024. Veteran sports broadcaster and USA Director of Media Relations Lance Crawford recently sat down with Applewhite to discuss all things football. Here are some of his thoughts, edited for brevity.

Arriving in Mobile

“I remember Mobile more as a child, traveling through here with my parents. We actually came to a Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. But then coming through here as an adult, I liked the city more than what I remember as a child. And then once I got on campus, it kind of blew me away a little bit. It was like, wow, I like this campus. It reminds me of, you know, kind of the Gulf Coast feel, like growing up in Baton Rouge. There’s a lot of similarities, and just the beauty of the campus. I really felt at home, when I hit the circle drive and kind of drove around, I was like, I really like this place. And then I got up the hill and got over to the athletic complex. I saw this brand-new stadium. We’ve got plenty of space. We’ve got meeting rooms. This is a great setup. Now we’re going to take it different places. We’re going to take it up. But this is a great setup to be able to recruit young men within a gas tank’s distance to come to school. And then you see campus life, and you see the number of students. It’s not a small campus, it’s not a small population. It’s not
a large campus with a huge population. It’s just right.”

What His Jaguar Team Will Look Like

“They’re going to be competitive. They’re going to be competitive in everything they do, or they’re not going to see the field. We’re going to be competitive in the classroom and be competitive on the field. We’re going to be tough. You know, offensively, we’re trying to score every time we touch the ball. I’m not talking about every series. I’m talking about every play, we try to score. Every time we touch the ball. Defensively, we’re going to attack. But I want our guys not only just to be competitive; I want us to win the right way.

“You know, I’m a little bit old school. I grew up with the coaches that you won with class, you won with humility, good sportsmanship. You know, you knocked the guy down and you get him back up, then say, I’ll see you in about five or six seconds. I mean, I grew up in that frame of mind. So a little bit of the things that you see now are just added distractions. I want guys to stay focused on the task at hand, focused on our competitor. But when someone turns on the TV and there’s no volume, I want them to see a team that’s flying around. It’s physical, competitive, that they can talk to you through the screen. You don’t need volume.”


Coach Applewhite and his team

Qualities of a Great Coach

“I think clearly painting a picture for your staff as to what you want to be and then putting forth a plan to give them the time to do that as a staff. But clearly painting out a picture: This is what I see our offense as, this is what I see our defense as, this is what I see us as in recruiting, this is what I see us in terms of academics, this is what I see us in the weight room in our training in our offseason, and just painting a very clear vision and then a plan, a plan to go do it. Not just, this is a vision, y’all figure it out. This is the vision, this is the plan, and then this is the quality control to go back and see are we reaching our goals and our plan. I think you also have to have some patience. We’re all competitive. We want it, you know, right now instead of right, so you have to have some patience, slow things down, understand there’s a human element in it. They’re kids, they’re 18 to 22. They’re going to make mistakes. And we’ve got to be there to develop them and help them reach their potential.”

Perspectives on the Transfer Portal

“The pieces are constantly moving, but it is what it is. Those are the rules we all know beforehand. You know, there’s a little part of me that’s just tired of the whining. It’s what the rules are. You know, we all agree on it, right? Right. Well then let’s go play. It’s however you want to use those rules, it’s however you want to go about it, however you want to set your plan and how you want to make those rules work for yourself. And we’ve done a good job lately of bringing guys in from the portal that can help our football team.”

The Home Team

“My daughter’s a competitive dancer. My son is 8 years old, he plays all the sports. So they’re highly involved in all their activities. My wife has her crew, and that’s really all you’re looking for. I figured this out from my mom a long time ago. And so everywhere we’ve gone, every move we’ve had, I’ve been like, OK, son’s good, daughter’s good, wife’s good, I’m good. And that’s just the way it works. And I can be good about anywhere as long as those three are good.”

About Major Applewhite

Birthplace: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Alma mater: University of Texas, bachelor's degree in sports management

Before coaching:
Played quarterback at Texas for four seasons. Named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and the league’s co-Offensive Player of the Year in 1999. In his final appearance for the Longhorns, was named Most Valuable Player of the Holiday Bowl.

Coaching experience:
Syracuse University quarterbacks coach; offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rice University; various roles at Texas; head coach at University of Houston; analyst on Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama; offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of South Alabama

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