JACKSON, Miss. – Hal Mumme's head coaching career started at a small, private NAIA school.
Now he hopes it will end at one, too.
The 61-year-old Mumme — best known as one of the architects of the prolific Air Raid passing offense — was introduced as Belhaven's new football coach Tuesday afternoon.
It's a big-name hire for the small school, which has about 1,200 undergraduates on its main campus in downtown Jackson. Mumme's coaching tree includes other prominent Air Raid disciples like Mike Leach (Washington State) and Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia).
Mumme spent the past season as the passing game coordinator at SMU under June Jones. The move to Belhaven was a stunner for some, but Mumme says he likes the idea of coming back to a smaller school.
"The people who know me in this business were not surprised at all," Mumme said. "They know how I am and how much I enjoy small college football."
This will be Mumme's seventh head coaching job. His most high-profile job was at Kentucky from 1997 to 2000, when he led the Wildcats to back-to-back bowls and coached quarterback Tim Couch, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft.
He resigned in 2001 amid an NCAA investigation that eventually led to sanctions.
Most of his success has come at relatively small schools. He got his start at Iowa Wesleyan in 1989 and also led Valdosta State (Ga.), Southeastern Louisiana, New Mexico State and most recently McMurry (Texas), a Division III school.
Coaching at a small school "is probably the most gratifying coaching you can do," Mumme said. "All the jobs I've had below the Division I level were really fun and we're going to have fun here."
Mumme said his time with Jones at SMU — which uses a variation of the run and shoot that also put up big offensive numbers — gave him the opportunity to tweak his Air Raid philosophies. He said Belhaven would run the Air Raid II, though he was coy about details.
"You've got to buy a ticket for that," Mumme said with a grin.
Mumme said he's proud of the Air Raid's popularity and that he keeps up with most of his former assistants.
"We've got our own little cult following," Mumme said laughing. "We follow each other around to clinics. I talk to all of them on a regular basis and it's been fun to watch them go on to really big jobs and do well."
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP