Less than a week after the gut punch that was the Georgia State loss, Georgia Southern fans received another shock this afternoon when it was learned head coach Willie Fritz will be leaving Statesboro in favor of Tulane.
Sources: #Tulane nearing an agreement with Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz. Deal not completed yet. Should be announced today.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) December 11, 2015
Kushner's tweet was later confirmed by several sources. The move can only be described as perplexing for Southern fans. Tulane fired Curtis Johnson after finishing the last two seasons at 3-9 and has been a historic doormat for most of its existence at the Super Dome and now at Yulman Stadium.
Outside of a blip on the radar — an undefeated 1998 season under Tommy Bowden — coaches have found it very, very difficult to win with the Green Wave. Fritz is surely looking at a very nice pay raise, but will that matter if the job ends up being a dead end?
Fritz also was reportedly interested in the Iowa State job, which leaves one to wonder if he was simply looking to get out of Statesboro for some reason. It doesn't matter now, he's gone.
Let's not forget Fritz went 17-7 at Georgia Southern and won a conference title for the Eagles in their first year in the FBS. Sudden moves are the nature of college football coaches and Fritz did a fantastic job for the school during his two years on the banks of Eagle Creek.
Looking forward, here's a way, way too early look at who might replace him on the sidelines:
1. Rhett Lashlee: Auburn's 32-year-old offensive coordinator would likely work well with the talent at GS. His boss, Gus Malzahn, said just yesterday he "has everything it takes" to be a head coach. I often tell unaffiliated folks that Georgia Southern's offense under Fritz looks a lot like Auburn's.
2. Doug Ruse: Georgia Southern's offensive coordinator came with Fritz from San Houston State. The Georgia State game debacle aside, the Eagle offense has had a great couple of seasons. This would be among the easiest of transitions with Southern keeping the same game plan and likely a few assistants as well. The question is if Ruse wants to be a head coach.
3. Brent Pry: Penn State's co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach was defensive coordinator at Georgia Southern during the Jeff Monken years. He was an unquestioned success and has quickly climbed the coaching ladder. He could find an offensive coordinator to run a GS-friendly scheme and get his head coaching career started right.
4. Dell McGee: Georgia Southern's running backs coach was promoted to assistant head coach just last month and could be named interim head coach for the bowl game. McGee won a Georgia high school state title in 2007 and has only grown his resume from there.
5. A small-school coach you've never heard of: Most of Eagle Nation didn't know who Willie Fritz was when he became head coach two years ago, and there's a good chance the same will happen when the next coach is announced. I'm a big fan of established head coaches rather than unknown assistants. They're used to being in charge, and winning is winning even if it is in FCS or Division II.
Leave your shock/awe/coaching candidates in the comments section.