by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – thegazebogazette@gmail.com

It’s hard enough for losing a legendary football coach that developed one of the most dominating defenses in the state, but the loss of a grandparent who spent a various amount of quality time has been tough.

Former Southern Miss Defensive Coordinator and architect of the “Big Nasty” defensive unit for the Golden Eagles, passed away on Thursday, January 5, 2023.  His grandson and Pass Christian High School Head Football Coach Chase Carmody reflected on helping him flourish as a coach and spending quality time with him.

“I would always meet up with him on Mondays after practice.  We would go over the good and the bad of the previous week and talk about challenges in the upcoming week,” said Carmody, when discussing his previous time as defensive coordinator at Pearl High School before arriving at Pass High as head coach in 2020.  “Those meeting changed to phone calls after I moved to the coast, but they were always helpful to me and part of my week that I looked forward to.  It was great having someone that had already dealt with the exact situation I was in to call and get advice from whenever I needed it.”

Jim Carmody holds a high place in the rich and proud football tradition at Southern Miss, whose legacy contains some of the finest and most dominating defensive football teams to ever play the game. Over a 10-year period from 1978 to 1987, Defensive Coordinator Carmody helped lead one of the greatest eras of defensive football in Golden Eagle history. He had as a profound effect on Southern Miss football as anyone in the long history of the storied football program.

The creator of what became known as “The Nasty Bunch” defense as both an assistant coach and then head coach, it was a defense that played with the proverbial chip on their shoulder, that played tougher, hit harder, played smarter and was more dedicated and determined than any of their opponents. That helped him earn the nickname “Big Nasty” from his players.

Carmody joined the Southern Miss football coaching staff as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator in 1978 and remained in that position until 1980, when he left to coach the defense line for the Buffalo Bills for the 1981 season.

The 1978 team finished with a 7-4 record and held seven of their opponents to 16 points or less. The 1979 squad had a 6-4-1 record and held seven of its opponents to 10 points or less, including a 22-0 shutout of Memphis. The 1980 “Nasty Bunch” helped the team to a 9-3 record and held eight of its 12 opponents to 14 points or less. That team also advanced to the Independence Bowl, the school’s first bowl appearance as a Division I member.

Jim returned to become the school’s head coach in 1982, replacing Bobby Collins, and remained until 1987. During his time as defensive coordinator of the “Nasty Bunch” defense, he established the Golden Eagle defense as one that opponents feared and spent countless hours trying to figure out how to move the ball. But Carmody’s football teams always seemed to be always just a step ahead of the opposition.

His defensive units were always ranked among the nation’s leaders in the NCAA statistics. His defensive units finished in the Top 10 nationally in total defense in four of his nine seasons with the program, including a No. 6 in 1983. He also directed a defense that ranked in the Top 10 twice in rushing defense, three times in opponent’s passing yards and four times in scoring defense.

“Some of the best advice he would give me wasn’t about X’s and O’s,” expressed Chase Carmody about his grandfather support of him.  “It was about how to treat players plus fellow coaches and how to build relationships with them that lead to success.”

As head coach, the Golden Eagles posted a 37-29 record over Jim Carmody’s six seasons, including five winning seasons.

Among his greatest achievements as head coach was defeating No. 17 Alabama and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant 38-29 in 1982, snapping the Crimson Tide’s 56-game home winning streak in the legendary coach’s final home game.

The Louisiana native played collegiately at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, before finishing his career at Tulane for the 1954-55 seasons.

Carmody’s coaching assignments included being an Armed Forces coach in Korea (1957-58), assistant coach at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans (1959-60), freshman coach at both Tulane (1961-62) and then Kentucky (1963-64), before joining the staff as an assistant coach at Mississippi State (1964-66).

Following that stop, Carmody worked on the staffs as an assistant coach at North Carolina (1967-73) and Ole Miss (1974-77), before coming to Southern Miss.

Following his stint with the Bills, and his return to Southern Miss as its head coach, he worked as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State from 1989-90, before joining Mississippi College as assistant head coach in 1991. He returned to Ole Miss as assistant head coach from 1992-95, before finishing his coach and scouting career for the Arizona Cardinals from 1994-2005.

Carmody holds a spot in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Southern Miss M-Club and Copiah-Lincoln Community College Halls of Fame.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame or the Jim Carmody Scholarship Fund at Southern Miss.