In a move that seemed destined, Texas Southern announced Monday it was parting ways with head football coach Clarence McKinney after five seasons.
The school decided not to renew McKinney’s contract, which is set to expire on Dec. 15. Word leaked last week TSU would not renew McKinney, a rumor athletic director Kevin Granger said wasn’t true at the time.
But considering McKinney’s disappointing record this season and the fact he had failed to post a winning record in any of his five seasons, it would have been hard for Granger to justify bringing him back and extending his contract.
“Texas Southern University will not renew the contract of head football coach Clarence McKinney when it expires on Dec. 15, 2023,” Granger said in a released statement. “We wish Coach McKinney well moving forward. The University will begin a nationwide search for our next head coach immediately.”
It seemed a foregone conclusion TSU and McKinney would part ways after he posted his fifth straight losing season at the school that hasn’t had a winning season since the early 2000s. The Tigers allowed Arkansas-Pine Bluff to rally on Saturday to a 35-34 win – its first SWAC victory of the season — at Shell Energy Stadium. Six days earlier, TSU upset SWAC West co-champ Alcorn State 44-10.
McKinney finished 12-35 overall and 9-26 in the SWAC during his five seasons.
McKinney, a respected recruiter, had certainly improved the talent at TSU during his tenure. The wins were the issue. The Tigers were picked to finish third in the SWAC preseason poll before this season but ended up at 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the SWAC, which was good enough for fifth place in the standings.
This season was particularly tough for McKinney, who lost star quarterback Andrew Body to injury after just one game. Sophomore Jace Wilson stepped in and improved as the season went on. But it wasn’t enough.
The Tigers entered the season amid high expectations after last season, coming within seconds of winning the SWAC West title and going to the conference championship game. But TSU struggled to finish games, losing four games by six or fewer points.
Assistant head coach Jerwin Wilson, who addressed the media in McKinney’s place hours before the announcement Monday, said the feeling was that the Tigers were close to finally turning the corner. Wilson claimed not to know McKinney’s status at the time of the SWAC Football Media Call.
“Obviously, if those four games are flipped we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Wilson, who was standing in for McKinney because he was attending the funeral of the three former University of Houston football players killed in an auto accident last week. “We just have to be able to get over the hump and control what we can control.”
McKinney, 52, is the former head coach at Yates, and he also spent time as an assistant football coach on Kevin Sumlin’s staffs at UH, Texas A&M and the University of Arizona.
McKinney did not respond to phone calls and a message left by the Defender.