In case you didn’t hear the news, Tyson Summers has been fired as Head Coach of Georgia Southern. After yesterday’s absolute annihilation at the hands of an 0-6 UMass team by a score of 55-20, Summers was let go Sunday. The UMass loss might have been pound-for-pound the worst defeat the Eagles have suffered since losing to Division II West Georgia in 1994.
This firing is music to most Eagles fans ears. The pressure was mounting before yesterday’s game, afterward? Not even Bucky Wagner could stomach it anymore. (Wagner was AD when the football program was brought back)
Chad Lunsford is the interim head coach for now. That is an excellent choice. Lunsford has been on staff through four coaching changes. He’s the recruiting guru; he’ll do his best to keep the class together until a new coach is named.
New coach, you say? Why yes.
Who should Georgia Southern hire? The Tyson Summers calamity taught the program a valuable lesson: Always value talent above loyalty; especially when hiring a coach, in charge of what is necessarily a multi-million dollar company.
Summers was a reach, and Kleinlein knew that he wanted a coach with South Georgia roots to stay and build something long-term at Georgia Southern. So he took a reach hoping that Summers would be a diamond in the rough that would grow into the position.
That proved a fatal mistake. Rather than following the example that Arkansas State set for handling massive coaching turnover, going through Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Bryan Harsin, and Blake Anderson between 2011-14, Kleinlein over-thought it and ended up with a dud.
I’m not married to the flexbone formation that Paul Johnson and his apostles employ. I like the flexbone, I think it works, but a lot of offenses work. We can still run an “option” system, even if it is not in the flex, Willie Fritz proved that. My definition of option offense might be different from other triple option fundamentalists. Most college offenses utilize at least some option principles, why split hairs?
So who do I want to be on TK’s short list this time? Well, I put together a few names you may or may not recognize.
10. Wildcard – First off let’s have some fun. This category is a catch-all for all your wildest fantasies. This is where I lump Ivin Jasper, Brent Pry, Giff Smith, Mike Ayers, Mike Sewak, heck even Les Miles. Shoot for the stars.
I put Ivin Jasper in this category due to my belief that he’s waiting for the Navy head job to come open. He could be the head-coach-in-waiting if Ken Niumatalolo moves on to greener pastures. He feels like a Navy lifer, although I think he would make an excellent head coach at Georgia Southern. He was an assistant in Statesboro in the past, knows the culture. Service academy background would help bring back the discipline that seems to have gone by the wayside in the Tyson Summers era. Put a pin in him for now.
Brent Pry is the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Penn State. Kleinlein has gone after him twice before. Penn State doesn’t release their salary info, but top Big Ten coordinators make between $500-800K. Way too rich for our blood.
Giff Smith is happy in the NFL. “Karate” Mike Ayers will never leave Wofford. Mike Sewak is a name you pull out when you’re five shots deep at the bar.
I only include Les Miles for a couple of reasons. If Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin would go to FIU/FAU, what would stop the Mad Hatter from coming to Statesboro? The option be damned, he’d bring some athletes to Statesboro. Let’s move on to real candidates…
9. Jay Bateman Army Defensive Coordinator – Bateman led a defense that ranked fourth nationally in total defense, including sixth against the pass and 18th versus the run. The defensive unit was also 16th in scoring defense, allowing 19 points per game. The unit is ranked 36th in PPG in 2017. Bateman comes with one huge red flag however: he was part of Wakey-leaks. Here’s a refresher. Price tag: $300K
1997-99: Hampden-Sydney College (assistant coach)
1999-03: Siena (assistant in 1999; head coach 2000-03)
2004: Richmond (assistant coach)
2005: Lehigh (defensive line)
2006-10: Elon (defensive coordinator/linebackers)
2011-13: Ball State (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers)
2014-pres.: Army West Point (defensive coordinator)
8. Brent Davis Army Offensive Coordinator – Brent Davis is in his fourth season as Army offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His offense ranked second in the nation in rushing offense with 339 rushing yards per game and a 5.6 yards per rush average in 2016. Their averaging 362 yards per game (3rd in FBS) and 31.5 PPG. He’s had two stints as an assistant coach at Georgia Southern (sidenote: delivered pizza to his house once). He knows the culture, he’s off the Paul Johnson tree, and he’s affordable. Price tag: $300K
1997-05: Georgia Southern (assistant coach/running backs/offensive line)
2006-09: Virigina Military Institute (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks/running backs)
interim head coach (1/2008-3/2008)
2010-13: Georgia Southern (offensive coordinator/offensive line)
2014-pres.: Army West Point (offensive coordinator/offensive line)
7. Doug Ruse Tulane Offensive Coordinator – His offense was an evolutionary step forward in triple option concepts during his stint on the banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek. His gun/pistol triple option produced 37.7 points and 456 yards per game in his two years in Statesboro. He was a nominee for the Broyles Award in 2014. Tulane is 12th in the country in rushing at 266 yards per game. Is the Kleinlein-Fritz relationship so poisoned that Ruse won’t even be considered? Possibly. But Ruse comes with a very interesting endorsement. Price tag: $200-400K
6. Brent Thompson Citadel Head Coach – The Bulldogs ranked first in FCS with an average of 348.2 rushing yards per game. Thompson’s first season in charge featured an 8-0 conference record, a second consecutive conference championship, a No. 6 national seed in the FCS Playoffs, and the first home playoff game in 24 years. He was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year for the 10-2 campaign that resulted in the first time in program history with back-to-back playoff appearances. Thompson was the only first-year head coach in Citadel history to lead the Bulldogs to the FCS Playoffs. He took over when Mike Houston left for James Madison at the end of the 2015 season, more about him later… Price tag: $250K
5. Kendal Briles FAU Offensive Coordinator – This one might require a stomach with a bit more fortitude due to the lingering effects from the Baylor scandal, but Kendal Briles is a bright offensive mind nonetheless. Some school will hire him eventually, he’s just too good. He’s projected to skyrocket through the coaching ranks. He’s a late addition to this list due to the mind-boggling 804 yard offensive performance FAU put on North Texas Saturday. Price tag: $350K
4. Dell McGee UGA RB Coach – This one is complicated. He lead the Eagles to their one and only bowl victory over Bowling Green in 2015’s Go Daddy Bowl. He served admirably as the interim head coach after Willie Fritz left for Tulane. He was not retained after Tyson Summers was hired, much to the chagrin of Eagle fans that grew to love the guy. His track record at the high school ranks is impressive.
UGA promptly scooped up McGee after they saw the development of young backs like Matt Breida, LA Ramsby, and Wes Fields under his watch at GS. He already got a raise from UGA heading into his second year. He’s largely credited with landing Justin Fields, the #1 QB in the 2018 class. Would he make a great head coach even though he’s just a position coach? Maybe. He has previous experience coaching at Carver High School. Could he make the leap to college head coach? Perhaps. Is he the best guy available to take over? Far from it. But the rumor is already out there.
Price tag: $350K
3. Brian Bohannon Kennesaw State Head Coach – Paul Johnson tree, has coached at Georgia Southern before. as well as Navy and GT, on PJ’s staffs. He has built Kennesaw State up from nothing to a good FCS team. If he could turn KSU into a success, than turning around Georgia Southern has to be a piece of cake by comparison. His offensive coordinator, Grant Chestnut, is a Georgia Southern graduate (also went to the same high school as me). Bohannon is a slam dunk. We can easily double or triple his salary. Check out his endorsements from a couple folks Eagles fans will recognize:
“Brian Bohannon will be an outstanding head coach at Kennesaw State. He will lead with integrity, humility, and class, putting the mission of the institution and the development of student-athletes first. This is a great hire for KSU, one that I know will be a source of pride for the entire University. I am thrilled for Brian and his family. Great things are ahead for Kennesaw State under his leadership.”
– Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken
“I am happy for Brian that he has an opportunity to be a head coach and to start up a new program. He will be a great representative of Kennesaw State, he will work extremely hard and he will be successful.”
– Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson
1994–1995 West Georgia (AC)
1996 Gardner–Webb (WR)
1997–1999 Georgia Southern (WR)
2000–2001 Georgia Southern (DB)
2002–2007 Navy (WR)
2008–2012 Georgia Tech (QB/B-backs)
2013–present Kennesaw State
Price tag: $221K
2. John Grass Jacksonville State Head Coach – John Grass was named head coach of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in 2014 after Bill Clark left for UAB. During his time there he’s gone 37-7. He just wins baby. They’re 4-1 and ranked #3 in FCS. He’s won three OVC championships and has turned JSU into a perennial fixture in the quarterfinals or beyond of the playoffs. He runs more of a spread with a lot of run-pass option. Not exactly the flexbone but I could see freshman Jaalon Frazier fit in his offense. Price tag: $300K
1. Mike Houston James Madison Head Coach – 19-1 at James Madison; overall 62–20; defending FCS champ, beat South Carolina when he was at the Citadel. His star has been rising since his Lenoir-Rhyne days. He’s a triple option guy, out of the flex and shotgun. He also gives a hell of a halftime speech. Just get this guy, please.
FCS National Championship (2016)
CAA (2016), SoCon (2015), 3× South Atlantic (2011–2013)
SoCon Coach of the Year: 2015
SAC Coach of the Year: 2011, 2012, 2013
AFCA Region I Coach of the Year: 2015, 2016
AFCA National FCS Coach of the Year: 2016
CAA Coach of the Year: 2016
ECAC Bob Ford FCS Coach of the Year: 2016
Brevard College (D2 Transitional) – Defensive Coordinator – 2006
Lenoir-Rhyne (D2) – Defensive Coordinator – 2007-10
Lenoir-Rhyne (D2) – Head Coach – 2011-13
The Citadel – Head Coach – 2014-15
James Madison – Head Coach – 2016-pres.
Price tag: $400K