Reading the tea leaves regarding the Georgia Southern Head Coaching search has been a tedious process. Not much information gets out of the Georgia Southern AD’s office, and there are few outlets to cover it. Since I reside in the Atlanta area, bugging Tom Kleinlein’s office wasn’t an option for me. But there are subtle hints that we’re getting close to a decision.
Nevertheless, gathering information about coaching searches is easier now than it has ever been thanks to a single resource: Twitter.
Twitter to the modern college football fan has become an essential resource for news and information. Coaching searches are opaque to the average fan because they have to be. But if you’re a wingnut who lives and dies with this stuff and has a little too much time on their hands; bits and pieces of information can be found. I’m assembling the dots, who knows if they connect or not, we will find out soon enough.
So here is what I’ve gathered so far
- On November 3rd, Georgia Southern announced a search committee comprised of Assistant AD Lisa Sweany, GS Legend Tracy Ham and current Senior Associate AD for Internal Operations, Faculty representative Dr. Chris Geyerman, GS Hall of Famer and former GSUAF President Mike Cummings, and Mel McBride, a GSUAF board member. Ham, Geyerman, and Cummings have all worked on Georgia Southern coaching search committees in the past.
- The search committee solicited an outside firm to help them with the search according to the Statesboro Herald.
What agency is it? Well, this is where Twitter snooping comes into play. Let me lay it out:
Thayer Evans is the Director of Coaches for the talent agency TLA Worldwide. Here is their website. TLA Worldwide provides representation for several sports figures including college coaches. They also offer consultant work. A few that have been mentioned in the Georgia Southern coaching search including Brent Davis, Mike Houston, Ivin Jasper, and Mike Thiessen, among others, are represented by TLA. Evans followed Tom Kleinlein on Twitter recently. Coincidence?
If you have heard the name Thayer Evans before there’s a reason, he used to write for Sports Illustrated. He’s known for co-writing the 2013 expose on Oklahoma State football named “The Dirty Game” along with George Dohrmann. SI laid Evans and Dohrmann off after the NCAA did a separate investigation that concluded that their reporting was “fundamentally unfounded.”
TLA snatched him up in 2016 to be the director of coaches at TLA; he has connections across the coaching world. Blake Anderson at Arkansas State let Evans coach one of their spring games.
Evans lives in Galveston, TX, but lists NYC and South Fork on Long Island as locations on his Twitter bio. That’s not far from West Point. Which leads me to the next set of tweets:
Austin Atkinson is an agent with Atkinson Athletics, which is a sports agency/sports event management firm in Mount Pleasant, SC. It’s a smaller agency but still privy to the insider information that the public does not generally get access to. Rusty Mansell is a recruiting analyst with 247Sports and CBS Sports Network, also a man with insider connections.
Who are Robert Nunn and Craig Candeto though? Nunn is the current NY Jets DL coach. He’s had stops with the NY Giants, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Redskins. He won a Super Bowl as Giants DL coach in 2012, a DL that included Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora. Nunn also coached at Georgia Military College a while back, a junior college with close ties to Georgia Southern.
Craig Candeto is a former Navy QB under Paul Johnson and is the current QB/BB coach at Georgia Tech. He replaced current Georgia Southern offensive coordinator Bryan Cook after he left GT last offseason. The retired Navy fighter pilot joined the GT coaching staff after a brief stint at Austin Peay.
Are Candeto and Nunn candidates for head coach? I hope not. My best guess is that they are on Davis’s shortlist for the offensive and defensive coordinator. Both would be solid choices. Candeto’s work with GT QB Taquon Marshall has been exemplary. Nunn’s body of work speaks for itself. Keep an eye on this.
What about Brian Bohannon?
While most of the information I’ve laid out points heavily towards Brent Davis as the guy. But there’s one other name that keeps popping up alongside Davis, Kennesaw State head coach. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution peppered him with questions about the Georgia Southern search and Bohannon wasn’t having any of it.
“Right now, my complete focus is on this game, these kids and everything going on here,” he said. “That’s it.
That’s not a denial. It’s hard to read through coach-speak, but Bohannon didn’t say no. KSU has a big game vs. Monmouth Saturday which will decide the Big South championship. The Owls will most likely play in the FCS playoffs.
Crazier things have happened, but I find it hard to believe that Bohannon will abandon the program he built, during its first playoff trip. Theoretically, if Georgia Southern has any shot at all with Bohannon, he wouldn’t take over until KSU gets bounced from the playoffs. The FCS playoffs run through December with a championship game January 6th.
Being a first-year team in the playoffs, KSU isn’t expected to go far. If they get bounced in the first (November 25) or second round (December 2) it could work out.
Brent Davis, on the other hand, could take over after the Army/Navy game December 9th. I doubt he sticks around for their bowl game.
Keep these dates in mind. Other names like Mike Houston, John Grass, and Central Arkansas head coach Steve Campbell have been floated but haven’t gained traction quite like Davis, or even Bohannon have. Davis and Bohannon are both flexbone, triple option guys off the Paul Johnson coaching tree.
Both Davis and Bohannon have been assistants in Statesboro in the past and understood the culture there. Houston, Grass, and Campbell might be sexier names, but they are outsiders. Eagle nation doesn’t traditionally trust outsiders, especially after getting burned by Brian Van Gorder, Chris Hatcher, and Tyson Summers.
My feel for the situation is that Georgia Southern wants to get back to basics, which means the flexbone triple option, the offense that has proven so successful for the Eagles in the past. I don’t think Tom Kleinlein wants to get extra creative with this hire like last time, but rather just get GS back to their winning ways as fast as possible.
For more on Forgotten5’s coverage of the Georgia Southern coaching search, check out my previous columns: