Southern hires Atiba Bradley as new head football coach

Former McKendree University Defensive Coordinator Atiba Bradley has been hired by Missouri Southern State University as the 14th head football coach in school history, replacing former head coach Jeff Sims.  

After Sims’ departure on Dec. 2, many candidates applied for the job, with about 140 people applying for the position. With Bradley’s ties to the university as well as his extensive experience as a coach in the college football world, it seemed like a perfect match on both ends. 

Bradley will be the first head football coach in the program’s history that was an alumnus at Southern and will also be the first black head football coach in the school’s history. 

Bradley started out as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri, then returned to Missouri Southern as a linebackers coach as well as the recruiting coordinator. He then landed his first defensive coordinator job at Division 2 Western Illinois. 

Bradley has also coached at Division 1 level, being the co-defensive coordinator as well as the linebackers’ coach for South Dakota before taking the Defensive Coordinator position at McKendree University. After just one season at McKendree where he showed promise towards a struggling defensive unit, Bradley landed his first head coaching job with his alma mater. 

Missouri Southern officially introduced Bradley as their head coach on Feb. 10. 

 “We’re going to be tough, we’re going to be physical, and most importantly, we’re going to be a well-coached football team,” Bradley said. 

On offense, Bradley said his desire to stretch the field, and switch to a vertical-style offense giving fans a sneak peek of what he will bring to the table as the program’s new head coach.  

During the press conference, Bradley gave fans and the athletic board a sigh of relief that they might have found the right hire. 

In a program that is in need of a serious turnaround, one that has not had a winning season since 2013; Bradley will hopefully be the guy that can turn things around for the Lions and finally get them trending in the right direction.