Eric Dooley is headed back home.

Dooley, a New Orleans native, has resigned his position as Prairie View’s football coach to take over the Southern Jaguars program in Baton Rouge, both schools announced Monday. Dooley is set to be introduced at Southern on Tuesday.

Suddenly, the Panthers are in the market for a new head football coach. Longtime Prairie View assistant coach Bubba McDowell has been appointed interim head coach.

Dooley’s decision to leave The Hill after four seasons came just 48 years after his Panthers fell to Jackson State, 27-10, in the SWAC Championship game. There had been a lot of speculation Dooley would return to Baton Rouge, where he had once been an assistant coach, to take over Dawson Odums after he left Southern for Norfolk State.

“I am truly appreciative of Coach Dooley’s leadership and development of our football program over the past four years, leading to us to win the 2021 SWAC Western Division,” said Prairie View athletic director Donald Reed.” We all wish him the best with his future endeavors.”

Dooley led the Panthers this season to their first SWAC Championship appearance and West Division title since 2009 this season. During a stretch this season, the Panthers won seven straight games but finished the campaign on a four-game losing streak. They ended the year, 7-5 overall and 6-1 in conference. 

Dooley, known as an innovative offensive coach, compiled a record of 20-17 at Prairie View while rebuilding the program. This season was his best at Prairie View, guiding the Panthers to the top of the division after they had been picked to finish near the bottom before the season began.

Dooley now takes over a Southern program that finished 4-7, but sits in a fertile recruiting state. Dooley, who served as Grambling State’s offensive coordinator prior to taking over at Prairie View, maintained his strong recruiting ties in Louisiana during his tenure at Prairie View.

Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris