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Fans paranoid over rumors about Hatcher
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    The fate of the Georgia Southern football program continued to swing in the balance late Monday as Eagle fans were left wondering how long Chris Hatcher would remain their head coach.
    According to Monday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Tech has interviewed the first-year GSU coach in its search to replace Chan Gailey, who was fired last month after six seasons. With no official word from Hatcher, Georgia Tech or Georgia Southern, it was unclear whether or not the Eagles will soon be in the market for their fourth coach in four years.    
    The news of Hatcher’s interview sent an earthquake of paranoia through Eagle Nation. The coach’s departure would be a crushing blow to a program beginning to regain a semblance of stability it has lacked since former coach Mike Sewak was fired following the 2005 season. With his January hire, Hatcher became the team’s third coach in 13 months, and the upheaval of the last two offseasons has unquestionably hindered the team’s recruiting efforts.
    Georgia Southern fans hoped the AJC story was misinformation, but writer Mike Knobler expressed full confidence in his source during a phone conversation Monday afternoon. Hatcher didn’t cash in on opportunities to squash the report, opting not to return phone messages or comment to reporters following a team meeting.
    The meeting was believed to have been prescheduled and centered on wrapping up the school year rather than Hatcher’s future. Players arrived and left the gathering in good spirits but were prohibited from talking with the media by school spokesman Pat Osterman.
    Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich didn’t return a phone message seeking comment, and a spokesperson for the Yellow Jackets said the AD wouldn’t comment on individual candidates during the job search. As of Monday night, the school had no plans to announce a hire, although it would like to name a coach as quickly as possible.
    Georgia Southern athletic director Sam Baker also didn’t return phone messages but said during a morning television interview with Nate Hirsch that no one had contacted him regarding speaking with Hatcher. Although it isn’t required, it’s common courtesy to contact an AD for permission before talking with a coach.
    If Tech offered its Atlantic Coast Conference gig to Hatcher, it would be tough to refuse for the up-and-coming coach, who’d likely bring home five times his current paycheck. Gailey’s salary, television and radio money totaled more than $1 million a year while Hatcher’s base pay at Georgia Southern is $200,000.
    The young and energetic coach with deep ties in the state of Georgia would be intriguing for Georgia Tech, particularly after Hatcher orchestrated an amazing turnaround in Statesboro this fall. The Macon native cleaned up the mess left by one-and-done Brian VanGorder, taking the Eagles from a school-worst 3-8 finish to a respectable 7-4 season. Prior to Georgia Southern, Hatcher built a powerhouse in seven seasons at Division II’s Valdosta State.