Head Coaching Candidates
1. Jamey Chadwell: Exciting young coach, who is only 39, has guided an overachieving group of Buccaneers to the Quarterfinals this season. The Bucs won the Big South, going undefeated in conference play. They also defeated their biggest rival, The Citadel, twice this season. Chadwell is 28-10 in 3 seasons at CSU and is 51-30 as a Head Coach. His scheme is so intriguing for Eagle fans because it is a truer option offense, out of the gun, than even Fritz ran at Georgia Southern. His offensive scheme is not as one dimensional as you might think. Play action passing and even straight drop backs out of the spread look are staples in the CSU playbook. This affords the Bucs the opportunity to keep defenses honest while also hitting explosive plays (20 yards or more). If you want an exciting young coach with a seamless transition, Jamey Chadwell is the guy.
2. Brent Pry: Former Eagle defensive coordinator was the front runner back in 2014 for the Georgia Southern head job but it is well speculated that the salary was well under what his job at Vandy offered. He is now at Penn State as co-defensive coordinator for Head Coach James Franklin. You know his defense will be solid if he is the Eagle's head man but what offensive scheme will he bring? Can AD Tom Kleinlein search the sofa cushions for loose change enough to match his Big 10 salary? Why would AD Kleinlein offer a job to a guy who seemingly turned his nose up at it 2 years ago? Tons of questions surrounding Coach Pry, but with the right financials and a solid plan from the coach a deal could be struck.
3. John Grass: Current Jacksonville State head coach. Spread formation running more zone read concepts that actual option schemes as the Gamecock's head man. He has been very successful in his two seasons at the helm currently sitting at 22-3 in two seasons, Grass is a very intriguing option for the Eagles. He is the Head Coach at his alma mater and it could be hard to loosen him out of Alabama. In this business it seems money talks. I am concerned Grass' success has been predicated on timely transfer from Power 5 schools, namely SEC caliber players. But if his talent level is even a slight step up at Georgia Southern his scheme would fit the personnel currently on the Eagle roster. The Gamecocks do throw the ball and have been successful in similar situations as was mentioned with CSU above. My only concern is can he recruit in Georgia and not have to live off of transfer for success.
4. Mike Houston: Flex-Bone Triple Option. Disciplined Coach. Should I say Jeff Monken 2.0 with a better, more approachable personality. If AD Kleinlein wants to return to the offense that brought Georgia Southern to this point, Mike Houston is the guy. After a successful D-2 run at Lenoir-Rhyne, Houston has been outstanding guiding the Bulldogs to the FCS playoffs this year. Eagle fans know what they will get with Houston and the transition back wouldn't be as huge as you would think. LA Ramsby would be B back. Breida and Wesley Fields A backs with Ellison running the T-O. Wow that is scary to think about. The offensive line would be the biggest transition switching from zone blocking to cut blocking schemes. But the "Option" of Mike Houston could be very tempting for the "non white tennis shoe wearing" AD.
5. Rhett Lashlee: Current Auburn Offensive Coordinator. Very young SEC coordinator who has been a rising star. His offensive scheme would be similar to the current scheme the Eagles have, minus the option portion. More zone read could be in play considering the athletes at QB for the Eagles. He is still an unproven commodity, as the offensive production at Auburn has regressed over the last few years. With the right QB his scheme is deadly. I am not sure Georgia Southern has a QB who can balance things in the passing department like Nick Marshall did for the Tigers. Money could also be an issue here and we know the struggles Malzahn has had on the defensive side of the ball. Lashlee, a Malzahn protégé, might have similar issues finding a defensive coordinator who can keep the pass-happy teams in the Sun Belt under control.
This group seems to be the main guys in the mix to take over as Eagle Head Coach. Fritz was under the radar two years ago so there is possibly a candidate we don't know of yet. My gut says the next Coach at Georgia Southern will come from this group of coaches. Who would I pick?
My Pick & Why?
To maintain a FBS program I think consistency is key. Eliminate the unknowns, have an identity to lean on, and excite your fanbase. Those are vital to success these days. How does Georgia Southern achieve this with their upcoming hire? Find guy who provides a proven track record and a seamless scheme for the current roster. It is clear in my mind, the candidate who provides all of these things is Jamey Chadwell. First he is a winner. Other than a 1 year stint at Delta State, he has won everywhere he has been. His offense is innovative and exciting to watch. He has done great things with Charleston Southern talent imagine what his offense would look like with the skill the Eagles have. He is more balanced than anyone realizes. His CSU team this season averages 215.3 yard rushing and 143.7 yards passing. His CSU team has the ability to throw the ball to stay in games. He uses formations on offense to outnumber defenses and also to create angles that are hard to defend. His defenses at CSU have been outstanding. My only question is his ability to recruit but I don't think player development will be an issue under a Chadwell run program. Ultimately his scheme can pick off right where Fritz left. It takes advantage of the current roster while also transitioning future offensive personnel to a more balanced attack. He is the pick for both short term results and long term success, depending on if he cycles out early like his potential predecessors have done.