University Of Southern Mississippi

1975 Golden Eagles
(Authentic Reproduction)




Entering 1975, the new head coach was Laurel, Mississippi native Bobby Collins who was hired from his defensive coordinator’s position at North Carolina. He was tutored as a very successful quarterback and punter by Darrell Royal at Mississippi State following his high school career. He began his coaching career at Mississippi State before serving as an assistant at Colorado State, another four years at MSU, and then making the assistant coach rounds at George Washington, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. As with many new coaches, Collins introduced uniform changes with a light gold helmet that displayed a black USM logo on each side utilizing the same larger “S” and smaller “U” and “M” lettering as was used on the 1969 through ’72 helmets. He placed black player identification numerals on the rear of the shell and augmented a straightforward and attractive look with a black facemask. With all eleven games on the road once again due to stadium construction, Collins’ first USM team showed the same “streak-like” tendencies of Underwood’s squads, having to close with six victories in his final seven games to finish at 7-4. Jeff Bower again ran the show from his quarterback position, and completed his USM career with twenty TD throws. Collins developed a solid running game behind fullbacks David Hosemann and Carlos Montgomery who rushed for 503 yards while sophomore Ben “Go-Go” Garry came into his own adding 846 to the ground game total. Tackle Jerry Fremin gained notice and later would coach linemen at both Southern Miss and Mississippi State but unfortunately was entangled with NCAA violations at both schools. Despite the 70-0 explosion against Cal State Fullerton, the defense outpaced the offense with a number ten national ranking and a lock-down secondary. Norris Thomas who split a seven year NFL career between the Dolphins and Bucs was joined by former walk-on Carl Allen and Packers draft choice Brad Bowman as defensive backfield stars. Linebacker Ron Cheatham continued his hard work and was rewarded with a full time coaching position upon graduation by Collins, later moving on as a successful high school coach in Alabama. Hopes were high with a feeling that the Eagles had turned the corner.


As the Georgia High School Class AAA Back Of The Year and First Team High School All American, it was no surprise that Roswell star quarterback Jeff Bower chose home state University Of Georgia. He had led his teams to the State Championships in football, baseball, and basketball but disappointed hometown fans by transferring to Southern Miss after his freshman season. He was no less a star at USM, completing a career as a three year starter with 3589 passing yards, team captain, Honorable Mention All American, All South Independent, and Team MVP awards, with a record setting 58.3 completion percentage in 1973. His great leadership abilities led him to a coaching career that began as a graduate assistant at Southern Miss. He remained with Collins as receivers and quarterbacks coach at both USM and Southern Methodist, moved to Wake Forest, and then became the offensive coordinator at his alma mater and Oklahoma State. In 1990 he was tapped as the Golden Eagles head coach and between 1990 and 2007 had fourteen consecutive winning seasons and a 119-83-1 record before resigning. It was under Bower that USM had many of its greatest moments with victories over SEC powers Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and LSU and he took his squad to bowl games in ten of his last eleven seasons while grooming forty future pro players. As Conference USA Champions four times, he was also the Coach Of The Year on three occasions and the Conference Coach Of The Decade. Jeff Bower in the minds of many became the face of Southern Miss football and as a player and coach has left a lasting legacy..

If interested in any of these Southern Mississippi helmets please click on the photos below.