HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -Larry Fedora showed he knew the score just hours after taking over as Southern Miss' new head coach.
Winning won't be enough. The Golden Eagles already had the wins. What athletic director Richard Giannini wanted when he asked for former coach Jeff Bower's resignation was thousands more black and gold-clad fans in the stands of M.M. Roberts Stadium, also known as ``The Rock.''
``Each of you has a role in this program,'' Fedora told a crowd of about 1,000 fans during a news conference Wednesday to announce his hiring. ``We need you to pack The Rock. The Rock can be our fortress. It'll be our edge.
``We need you here early, we need you to be here late, and we need you to be obnoxious and loud.''
It could be years before it's clear whether Giannini's gamble paid off, trading a proven winner for an assistant coach who could push the Golden Eagles just a bit further. But he wasted no time trying to take advantage of the buzz surrounding the hiring of Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator. Athletic department employees handed out season ticket applications as fans left following the pep rally-style gathering.
Giannini hopes Fedora's wide open one-back, no-huddle offense will be the solution. The Cowboys averaged 33.4 points and 484.1 yards per game on the way to a 6-6 record and an Insight Bowl berth.
Oklahoma State had the nation's seventh-ranked rushing offense at 245.3 yards per game, and overall the offense was ranked ninth in Fedora's third season as coordinator.
``We wanted someone that had incredible energy and incredible passion for the game of football and tremendous passion to be successful,'' Giannini said. ``And there's no question we got the No. 1 guy. From Day 1, he was on our list.''
Giannini said he conducted dozens of interviews in the 16 days since Bower resigned under pressure Nov. 26.
Fedora's hiring still must be approved by the state College Board. Giannini said Fedora's contract will be for four years. He did not want to discuss financial terms until the board approved the contract, but said Fedora will be paid more than the $550,000 in public and private money Bower earned.
Fedora has coached at Florida, Air Force, Baylor, Middle Tennessee State and Austin College, where he went to school. The 45-year-old was the Gators' offensive coordinator in 2004 when Florida led the Southeastern Conference in six offensive categories and the school was the first to feature the conference's top passer, rusher, receiver and total offense leader in the same season.
``Larry is one of the best coaches I have worked with in my time in college football,'' said Illinois coach Ron Zook, who was Fedora's boss at Florida. ``He has a great offensive mind and the ability to motivate his players.''
Fedora will be under pressure to win immediately. Bower had 14 straight winning seasons and bowl appearances in 10 of the last 11 years.
Bower came to Southern Miss as a transfer quarterback in 1972 and was a player and assistant coach with the school for 12 seasons before taking over in 1990 as head coach after serving a year as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator.
Bower's last game as coach will be the Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 22 in Birmingham, Ala., against No. 20 Cincinnati.
Then it's Fedora's turn.
``I knew this was just going to be a golden opportunity,'' Fedora said. ``I think Southern Miss is getting ready to explode and I wanted to be the next guy here to just push it over the top.''

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