Change is here for Southern’s football program

Mitch Carney

Change has come to the Missouri Southern football program.

After having a losing record since 2013, and most recently a season ending 1-10, the program is going a new direction with the hire Head Coach Jeff Simms.

“Many times a team that hasn’t had a lot of success is the best to take over because they realize that there needs to be some changes,” Simms said. “As a coach I know how to get the program where it needs to be to compete at a national championship level.

“But me knowing is not enough, an administration, university, alumni, community, and student athletes that are willing to strive to do the things it takes to be great is the foundation that will give us the opportunity to be successful.”

Simms was the head coach for Garden City Community College before coming to Southern.

Simms led the Bronchbusters to a 32-12 record and won a championship during his four years with the team.

Simms brought along Josh Hager his defensive coordinator from Garden City who led the Bronchbusters to be the top scoring defense in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.

Simms team also includes Joe Bettasso, who will now serve as the outside linebackers coach.

Bettasso was the Lions defensive coordinator before serving as the interim head coach when former head coach Denver Johnson stepped down.

The position change hasn’t stopped from Bettasso from buying into Simms’ program.

“I’ve never been under someone like Simms,” Bettasso said. “He’s great to work with and I’m excited to for the season. The title changed doesn’t mean anything especially if we’re winning.”

Simms has talked about Bettasso’s commitment to the team.

“I didn’t know Joe before coming to MSSU, but I interviewed all the previous staff and Joe is an outstanding coach who cares deeply about MSSU,” Simms said. “I am exited about having him on our staff.

“Joe is concerned about winning championships and he will do his best do that in whatever capacity he can.”

Looking ahead

Under Simms, the Lions have started a new tradition. Each Saturday in the offseason the team goes out to help in the community. Projects include working at the Ronald McDonald House.  

He has also made it a priority for his team to be at attendance at home games for other sports.

It’s all designed to build a new work ethic and desire for success within his players.

“Fans can expect many things including more campus and community engagement,” Simms said. “Our fans will not care about us if they don’t know us and know that we are playing for our university and representing our university every Saturday we walk out on to the field.”

The Lions first game is set for Saturday, Sept. 5. For now, Simms focus for his team is to “win every day with consistent improvement.”  

“The work we put in everyday will be evident when we play because when you invest a lot you will fight harder on game days,” Simms said.