Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Jared Benko announced Sunday that Chad Lunsford was fired from his job as the Eagles’ head coach. Under Lunsford the Eagles began the season 2021 1-3; they won their opener against FCS school Gardner-Webb but then lost three consecutive games to FAU, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Cornerbacks coach Kevin Whitley will serve as the interim head coach until Benko finds a long-term replacement. Whitley joined the Eagles in 2019 and was a standout player for them from 1988-91.
“After thorough review and evaluation of our football program,” Benko said Sunday via a press release, “I have made the decision that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and University.”
Lunsford spent 13 years working with Georgia Southern going back to 2003. He worked as a positional coach for many years before beginning promoted to special teams coordinator in 2016 and later assistant head coach in 2017.
After Tyson Summers was fired mid-season in 2017, Lunsford was named the interim, and later full-time, head coach. In his three-plus years as GS’s head man the Eagles went a combined 28-21. Lunsford won the Camelia Bowl in his first full season at the helm and won the New Orleans Bowl last season.
“If the product on the field is not to the liking of our fan base,” Lunsford said after his team lost 45-10 to #10 Arkansas in week three, “they have every right to be upset about it. We’re a form of entertainment. We’re a production, and that’s my job. It’s our job to go out there and perform for our fan base.”
Lunsford’s firing comes two days after a video of nose tackle Gavin Adcock chugging a beer atop the school bus the Eagles ride into their home games on circulated the internet. Adcock jumped offsides later in the day on a 4th-and-1 and opponent Louisiana scored a touchdown on the same drive.
The NCAA prohibits student-athletes from consuming alcohol 48-hours before a game according to The Itican’s Steve Derderian.
It is unknown if the video or the questions it raised about the team’s culture has any relation to Lunsford’s job.
Not saying this was the reason Chad Lunsford got fired, but a player chugging a beer on top of a bus before a game wasn't the *greatest* look for the Georgia Southern program.pic.twitter.com/AchC8TFgq0— The Artist Formerly Known as @DanWeiner (@ReallyDanWeiner) September 26, 2021
There is no immediately clear favorite for the Georgia Southern job with Lunsford out of the picture. Lunsford got the job thanks to promotion from within, but that was before current Director of Athletics Jared Benko came to Statesboro.
Georgia Southern will conduct a ‘national search for its next head football coach’ and ‘will not make any comments on the search for the next head coach until the process is complete’ according to the school’s press release.
Lunsford is yet to make a public statement on his firing.
Interim HC Kevin Whitley, along with Benko, will conduct GS’s normal weekly presser on Monday at 1:30pm. He will make his head coaching debut at home against Arkansas State at 4:00pm on October 2nd.