Six games and almost a year too late, what needed to be done at the end of last season has now been done. Georgia Southern is confirming that Tyson Summers has been relieved of duties as Head Coach. Chad Lundsford will take over as the interim. Frank “The Big Guy” Sulkowski of WJCL News was the first I saw to break the news of the change.
Georgia Southern is in the midst of its worst stretch of football since restarting the program as they’re 0-6 for the season. The attempt to go back to some form of triple-option offense this season after whatever it was they were trying last year hasn’t panned out the way Summers – and Eagles fans – hoped. The final nail in the coffin was getting destroyed by fellow previously winless UMass 55-20 on Saturday.
Summers came to Georgia Southern following Willie Fritz’s departure for Tulane after the 2014 regular season. He was previously the defensive coordinator under Mike Bobo at Colorado State and had a history as a defensive coach. His tenure was marred by a number of strange things – such as the quiet departure under dubious circumstances of his first Strength and Conditioning coach – and poor decisions such as his first offensive staff. The Eagles were 5-13 in his tenure and never showed any signs of improvement through his season and a half in Statesboro.
Now, Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein is searching for yet another head coach. This time it’s not with a team coming off one of the most impressive two-year moves up to FBS in the history of the transition by with a team that is one of the worst in college football. Fortunately, there is still talent on this team and Georgia Southern has enough of a history that an ambitious coach may be willing to take on the challenge of getting the Eagles back where they belong. The first thing needs to be to forget the model of getting someone who wants to stick around. I want a coach with longevity just as much as anyone else, but with Georgia Southern’s place in the college football world, when the Eagles are good they’re not going to be able to hold on to a head coach. So, I’d rather go after the up-and-comers with tons of potential.
So, who is on the shortlist? My first thoughts are:
1) Mike Houston, James Madison HC
2) John Grass, Jacksonville State HC
3) Ivin Jasper, Navy OC
4) Dell McGee, UGA RB Coach
5) Doug Ruse, Tulane OC
6) Bob Davie, New Mexico HC.
Yes, Bob Davie. His New Mexico offense is 17th in the nation in rushing with his triple-option offense there. I did not list Kennesaw State head coach – and former Georgia Southern coach – Brian Bohannon. I have reason to believe – that I can’t disclose due to the nature of the source – that he won’t entertain an offer from TK at this point. One thing you’ll note on that list is that all but two of them have been head coaches at the collegiate level already. Georgia Southern desperately needs someone with experience as a head coach and not someone with minimal connections who struggles to fill his first staff and learning how to be a head coach on the job.
For now, Chad Lundsford will take over as the interim head coach for the remaining 6 games of this season. He is the unenviable task of trying to get this team back on its feet and salvage what remains as he and the rest of the coaches face the uncertainty of just where their next job will be once this season is over. It’s an unfortunate aspect of college football that so many are displaced when a head coach is fired. It’s even more unfortunate in this case for those who joined the staff this season. It would have been better for all involved had Tyson Summers stepped down at the end of last season when it was clear he was over his head. Instead, a once-proud program is now facing a climb out of a deep hole at the worst possible time in its 4th season in FBS.