Bobby Collins
Biographical details
Born(1933-10-25)October 25, 1933
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedNovember 15, 2021(2021-11-15) (aged 88)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Playing career
1951–1954Mississippi State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1955Mississippi State (GA)
1956Colorado State (backfield)
1957–1958Mississippi State (freshmen)
1959–1960Mississippi State (offensive backfield)
1961–1963George Washington (backfield)
1964–1966Virginia Tech (DC)
1967–1974North Carolina (OC)
1975–1981Southern Miss
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
2 SWC (1982–1984)

Thurmon Lavelle "Bobby" Collins Jr. (October 25, 1933 – November 15, 2021) was an American college football coach. He served as head coach at the University of Southern Mississippi and Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, Collins saw the school's football program brought down by severe NCAA sanctions that led to the "death penalty" being applied to the program, including the cancellation of the entire 1987 season and being limited to only seven road games in 1988. However, the school opted to sit out the 1988 season as well after virtually all of the team's experienced players went elsewhere.

He was born in Laurel, Mississippi.[1] From 1975 to 1981, Collins coached at Southern Miss, and compiled a 48–30–2 record. In 1982, he was hired by SMU, signing a five-year deal with more than $100,000 annual salary. While at SMU, Collins compiled a 43–14–1 record. His only losing season as a coach came in 1976, when he went 3–8 at Southern Miss. From 1982 to 1984, he put together the best stretch in SMU's history, going 31–4–1.

After the 1986 season, Collins, athletic director Bob Hitch and recruiting coordinator Henry Lee Parker were interviewed by WFAA-TV's Dale Hansen regarding allegations that players were being paid. Collins denied any knowledge of the affair.[2] It later emerged that Collins knew that players were being paid, though he didn't know who they were.[3] Collins resigned shortly after WFAA aired a special report breaking the scandal, and was later given $850,000 in severance pay in return for keeping quiet about the payments.[4]

Collins was not sanctioned by the NCAA for any role in the events leading up to the "death penalty", though the final report criticized him for not providing a convincing explanation for why players were still being paid after the school assured the NCAA that the payments had stopped. Nonetheless, his reputation was ruined. While he was a finalist for the open head coach's job at Mississippi State in 1990 (which eventually went to Jackie Sherrill),[5] he never returned to the collegiate ranks in any capacity since leaving SMU. He spent his remaining years raising charity for Southern Miss.[6] On November 15, 2021, Collins died at the age of 88.[7]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1975–1981)
1975 Southern Miss 8–3
1976 Southern Miss 3–8
1977 Southern Miss 6–6
1978 Southern Miss 7–4
1979 Southern Miss 6–4–1
1980 Southern Miss 9–3 W Independence
1981 Southern Miss 9–2–1 L Tangerine 19
Southern Miss: 48–30–2
SMU Mustangs (Southwest Conference) (1982–1986)
1982 SMU 11–0–1 7–0–1 1st W Cotton 2 2
1983 SMU 10–2 7–1 2nd L Sun 11 12
1984 SMU 10–2 6–2 T–1st W Aloha 8 8
1985 SMU 6–5 5–3 5th
1986 SMU 6–5 5–3 T–4th
SMU: 43–14–1 30–9–1
Total: 91–44–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "Former Southern Miss football coach Bobby Collins dies". 16 November 2021.
  2. ^ Taafe, William. Daring to take on the home team Archived July 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Sports Illustrated, March 9, 1987.
  3. ^ Sullivan, Robert; and Craig Neff. Shame on you, SMU Archived July 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Sports Illustrated, March 9, 1987.
  4. ^ Wangrin, Mark. 20 years after SMU's football scandal Archived August 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. San Antonio Express-News, March 3, 2007.
  5. ^ Reed, William F. What Price Glory? Archived October 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Sports Illustrated, December 24, 1990.
  6. ^ "Bobby Collins' legacy, though forever linked to painful memories for SMU, shouldn't be forgotten". 18 November 2021.
  7. ^ Former SMU football coach Bobby Collins dies at 88 years old