Georgia Southern athletic director Jared Benko said before the season that 7-6 and 8-5 football records are not acceptable at Georgia Southern University. With the Eagles sitting at 1-3 and still having tall tests ahead Benko chose not to wait and see if they could turn things around and instead announced that he was relieving head coach Chad Lunsford of his coaching duties effective immediately.
“After a thorough review and evaluation of our football program, I have made a decision that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and university,” Benko said. “I want to thank Coach Lunsford for his hard work and the impact he has had on the student-athletes within our program. I wish Chad and his family success in the future.”
The timing of the firing may have something to do with a video that surfaced Sunday showing Georgia Southern senior defensive lineman Gavin Adcock standing on top of a moving bus the Eagles were riding on the way to the game. When passing the fraternity houses Adcock was thrown a beer which he chugged and celebrated afterward. Senior cornerback Najee Thompson was also on top of the bus, sitting with headphones on.
A press conference is scheduled for Monday where Benko is expected to address the firing and also officially name cornerbacks coach Kevin Whitney as interim head coach.
Whitley came to Georgia Southern in 2019 after a successful career coaching high school football including going 99-28 with five region titles at Stockbridge high school. Whitley is also a former Georgia Southern All-American playing from 1988-91.
In 2019 as defensive backs coach he had a stellar group including Kindle Vildor, Monquavion Brinson and Jessie Liptrot who combined for three interceptions and 22 pass break ups. Vildor was named a first-team all-conference selection and was taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft while Brinson set a new conference record for career passes defended and a new school record for career pass break ups..
Lunsford took over the Georgia Southern program on an interim basis in 2017 after Tyson Summers was relieved of his coaching duties. Georgia Southern athletics director named Lunsford head coach for the 2018 season where he went 10-3 and led the Eagles to a Camellia Bowl victory over eastern Michigan.
The Eagles went 7-6 in 2019 and ended the season losing to Liberty 23-16 in the Cure Bowl. Last season the Eagles finished 8-5 and ended the year with a 38-3 New Orleans Bowl victory over Louisiana Tech.
The Eagles have not won a conference championship in seven years, which is the tied for the longest period Georgia Southern has gone without winning a conference title in the program's modern era. Lunsford finished his career with a 28-21 record in four-plus seasons.
A national search is expected to begin immediately. The athletics department has announced they will not make any comments on the search for the next head coach until the process is complete.