Based on sources close to Georgia Southern and reports from various media outlets, it’s a safe bet that athletics director Tom Kleinlein has his final four candidates for the vacant head coach position at GSU.
So, who are they, and what do they bring to the table?
Ayers is probably the most familiar of the four to GSU fans.
Ayers has been the head coach of the Wofford Terriers since 1988, where he’s gone 176-121-1, including an 81-51 record in Southern Conference games.
He’s an option coach, his recruiting territory is very similar to that of GSU, and above all else, he’s an expert at doing more with less. Wofford, a small, private school in Spartanburg, S.C., with an enrollment of less than 1,600 students, has made the playoffs six times and won four SoCon titles.
Ayers also has experience transitioning to a higher level of football. He guided the Wofford program from Division II to Division I-AA in 1995, and into the SoCon two years later.
Ayers has never coached at a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
Sam Houston State
Fritz is a proven winner. As head coach at Central Missouri from 1997-2009, he had only two losing seasons, going 5-6 in both 1997 and 2006.
He took over at Sam Houston State in 2010, and has gone 40-14 as the program’s head coach. The Bearkats lost to North Dakota State in the 2011 and 2012 Football Championship Subdivision national title games.
His first head coaching position was at Blinn Junior College, which was 5-24-1 in the three seasons before his arrival in 1993. All he did there was go 39-5-1 and lead Blinn to a pair of junior college national titles.
Fritz has never coached at a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
Horton knows how to run the football. He served as running backs coach at Auburn this season, as the Tigers led the FBS with 335.7 yards per game and trailed only Georgia Southern’s 360.4 in all of Division I.
Horton has been predominantly a running backs coach in his career, serving in the role at Appalachian State, Kansas State, Air force, Arkansas and Auburn.
He has also coached wide receivers, tight ends and kickoff and punt returners.
Out of all the potential candidates, Horton has spent the most time in the FBS, but has no in-game experience even as a coordinator.
Still, he has been on the big stage for a long time.
Jasper would be the “feel good” pick for GSU fans. He is a Paul Johnson protégé, just like Jeff Monken and Mike Sewak.
Jasper coached in Statesboro under Johnson from 1999-2001, and left with him for Navy in 2001.
He’s been there ever since, climbing the ladder until being named offensive coordinator under head coach Ken Niamatalolo.
Making Jasper the next head coach at GSU would fall right into line with Sewak and Monken, who both had varying degrees of success at GSU both in the regular season and postseason.
Jasper, like Ayers, would leave just about zero doubt as to exactly what the GSU offense will look like in 2014.
Chadwell is a late-breaking rumor, and for good reason.
Chadwell took over at Charleston Southern a year ago, and won a whole bunch of football games last season.
The Bucs finished the season 10-3, with losses coming only to Colorado, Gardner-Webb and Liberty. It was the wins that were very, very impressive. CSU beat Appalachian State, The Citadel, playoff participant Coastal Carolina and future Conference USA member Charlotte.
The season started with seven-straight wins.
Not too shabby for a first-year coach.
Oh, and he runs the option.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.