The Will Healy era at Charlotte is over.
Following a 34-15 home loss to FIU that dropped Charlotte to 1-7 on the season, Will Kunkel of Fox Charlotte announced that the university has fired Healy. Replacing Healy in the interim is offensive line coach Pete Rossomando.
Will Healy will be fired as Charlotte head football coach, according to sources.— Will Kunkel (@WillKunkelFOX) October 23, 2022
Pete Rossomando will be named the interim head coach.
Healy was in his fourth season with the program and held a 15-24 record with the 49ers. In 2019, Healy led the program to a 7-6 record and the program’s first bowl game, a loss to Buffalo in the Bahamas Bowl.
Over the last two seasons, Charlotte was 6-14, including a 2-8 record on the road. At home, Charlotte had begun to struggle, failing to win a home game since Nov. 6, 2021, when the team defeated Rice.
Charlotte is the first Group of 5 to fire their head coach — UAB’s Bill Clark resigned prior to the start of the season — meaning that Charlotte will have a unique opportunity to get a head start on an important hire for the 49ers. The program’s next head coach will be asked to usher Charlotte into the American Athletic Conference.
Here are seven names that could be hired as Charlotte’s head coach.
Joe Cox, Alabama TE Coach
Are ties to Charlotte a must? Probably not. If Charlotte wanted to hire a coach with ties to the area, though, there might not be a candidate with as many ties as Alabama tight end coach Joe Cox.
A Charlotte native, Cox was a stand-out quarterback at Independence High School (Charlotte, N.C.). In 2021, Cox served as the tight ends coach at Charlotte, after coaching stops at South Carolina and Colorado State. He also served as the offensive coordinator for Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte.
Cox now serves as the tight ends coach at Alabama, a position he took before the start of this season.
While Cox doesn’t have any experience as a college play caller, his ties to the program, and his ability in recruiting, might be enough to give him the edge for the job.
What people are saying:
“Coach Cox is probably one of the brightest young guys that we’ve seen in a while, so we’re glad to have him on the staff ... I’ve been very impressed with his knowledge, and I think he’s going to help us.” -Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, per Al.com
Alex Atkins, FSU Offensive Coordinator/OL Coach
Sticking with coaches that have ties to the Charlotte program, there aren’t many coaches who have those ties and prowess as Florida State offensive coordinator Alex Atkins.
Atkins was Charlotte’s offensive line coach in 2019. In that season, the 49ers enjoyed a successful season on the line, allowing just 1.62 sacks per game. On the ground, the team had a potent attack that was among the best in the Group of 5.
Since then, Atkins has moved to Tallahassee, Fla., where he’s quickly risen the ranks at FSU.
After two seasons as the team’s offensive line coach, head coach Mike Norvell chose to promote Atkins to offensive coordinator, replacing Kenny Dillingham, who took the offensive coordinator job at Oregon.
Outside of Atkins’ success as an offensive line coach and coordinator, Atkins provides an immediate boost to Charlotte’s efforts on the recruiting trail. According to 247Sports, Atkins is listed as the primary recruiter for seven four-star prospects.
Atkins feels like a no-brainer for Charlotte but would he take this job or wait for a better opening in the future?
What people are saying:
“He is one of the best leaders of men that I’ve been around. That shows up in his willingness to invest in relationships. His willingness to take time and to be who he genuinely is.” -FSU Head Coach Mike Norvell, per Tallahassee Democrat
Mike Minter, Campbell Head Coach
Unlike the other two candidates, Mike Minter would enter this position with almost a decade of head coaching experience.
Since 2013, Minter has been the head coach at Campbell, and while his career 43-57 record as the program’s head coach might not offer a lot of excitement, it might look better with some provided context.
Campbell became a scholarship program for the first time in 2018 and since then, Minter has found some momentum on the recruiting trail and the field.
This season, Campbell is 4-3, including a one-score loss to a top FCS program in Jackson State. Since 2018, the program has had two six-win seasons (2018 and 2019) and looks to be on its way to another one.
On the trail, Minter pulled the No. 1 FCS recruiting class in 2022 with multiple high-level prospects. That class included four-star safety Myles Rowser, who chose Campbell over offers from Michigan, Arkansas, and others.
Minter’s coaching stock is on the rise and Charlotte could take advantage of that by hiring him and allowing him to build this program up as it moves to the AAC.
Pete Lambo, South Carolina Associate Head Coach/ST Coordinator
Sticking with coaches that offer head coaching experience, South Carolina special teams coordinator Pete Lambo would bring 15 seasons of successful head coaching experience to Charlotte.
Lambo’s first head coaching job came at Lehigh University in 2001 and immediately, he found success there. In his first season, Lambo led Lehigh to an 11-1 record and a win in the FCS Playoffs.
Lambo has also coached at Elon — where he went 35-22 in five seasons — and Ball State, where he led the Cardinals to two consecutive bowl games in 2012 and 2013.
Overall, Lambo’s coaching record is 112–65 but his teams have largely struggled in postseason play, posting a 1-5 record in those competitions.
Still, Lambo would bring Charlotte a stable face with experience leading a program and ties to the area given his coaching stops at Elon, Memphis, and South Carolina.
It certainly wouldn’t be the flashiest hire but the stability provided could help the program usher in its next chapter.
Clayton White, South Carolina Defensive Coordinator
Sticking in Columbia, S.C., Clayton White is a coach that many players on South Carolina’s team believe will be a head coach in the future.
This season, the Gamecocks defense has been a driving force for a team that finds themselves in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season, and White has been among the big catalysts for that success.
Like other coaches on this list, White is a North Carolina native who had stops at NC State as both a player and coach. Those ties and relationships would be a major boost to Charlotte as they look to continue building the program.
Montario Hardesty, South Carolina RB Coach
Montario Hardesty hasn’t been coaching for a long time but he’s quickly risen up the coaching ranks, going from Norfolk State running backs coach in 2015 to South Carolina running backs coach in 2022.
A North Carolina native, Hardesty played high school football at New Bern High School before becoming a standout at Tennessee. After four seasons with Tennessee, Hardesty enjoyed four seasons with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL.
Like other names on this list, Hardesty served under Will Healy for two seasons as Charlotte’s wide receiver coach. During that time, Hardesty helped coach one of the best wide receiver groups in Conference USA.
What people are saying
“He’s an excellent recruiter with connections in North Carolina and up and down the East Coast. He had multiple position coaches himself as a player, so he will relate in a great way with our running backs. I love his journey as a coach” -South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer, per Saturday Down South
Brennan Marion, Texas WR Coach
Marion has risen up the coaching ranks, earning a significant role on Texas’ staff prior to this season as the team’s wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator.
Before moving to Texas, Marion was the wide receiver coach at Pittsburgh, where he coached the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner in Jordan Addison.
Marion has also served as an offensive coordinator for William & Mary and Howard under Mike London, who still serves as William & Mary’s head coach.
Marion is an innovative offensive mind, who developed the ‘GoGo offense’, which blends the modern spread offense with some old-school triple-option while coaching high school football.
While being an innovative offensive mind isn’t the only thing that matters as a head coach, that innovation could be a help for Marion and Charlotte in the future.
Marion might not be the best fit but his resume speaks for itself and he’s worth a look for Charlotte.
What people are saying:
“One of the best developers of talent I’ve been around, and his interview process was really great. For me to watch how he develops the players, the drill work that he does with them to get them prepared to play and play at a really high level, not to mention he’s a really innovative offensive mind.” -Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, per Texas Inside