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Matt Yogus: Hatcher firing was odd; coach releases statement

I don’t now about you, but I sure didn’t see that one coming.

            In a decision clearly made before Georgia Southern’s 13-6 win over The Citadel in the last football game of 2009, head coach Chris Hatcher was thanked for the services of he and his staff and told they would no longer be needed.

            It’s obvious that there’s a lot going on under the surface and that the football program is getting desperate to right the ship.

            The only word I can think to use to sum up the entire situation is, well, odd.

            It was odd that the coaches and players were taken by surprise by the situation after the game — Hatcher was told immediately following the taping of his weekly coaches show, his staff was alerted shortly thereafter and the team was told via email after leaving Hanner Fieldhouse following the game.

            It was odd that a press conference was called after much of the media had dispersed. It was odd that during the press conference, nearly a third of the presser was spent talking with GSU president Dr. Bruce Grube about academics when Grube and GSU director of athletics Sam Baker were adamant that the only factor in the decision was the product on the playing field.

            To me, it is odd that three more recruiting classes from this decade will play out their career under a coaching staff that is different from the one that brought it to Statesboro — the last class to do so was Mike Sewak’s 2002 class.

            And it’s odd that Hatcher and his staff were not given the opportunity to see at least one recruiting class through from beginning to end.

            As for the decision itself — oddly enough — only time will tell if it was the right one.

            We’ll never know if Hatcher was on the brink of turning things around, and only the future holds the answer to the question of Georgia Southern’s hopeful return to glory.

            As for Hatcher, it would be hard to argue that the system that helped him go 76-12 at Valdosta State doesn’t work. Maybe he couldn’t get the right personnel on the roster here at GSU, maybe he was unprepared for the level of defensive play at the FCS level or maybe there really is something to the fact that a majority of the players are underclassmen.

            The bottom line is that we’ll never be able to find out.

            The final oddity surrounding the situation was that Hatcher never really got  a chance to address the Eagle Nation. His final goodbye came in the form of a press release sent around on Monday (see below).

            One thing’s for sure — Hatcher came with class, coached with class and left with class.

            As for the future, Hatcher will find a place to be successful again. The Eagle Nation wishes him the best, and so does Georgia Southern. When the state contracts for the coaching staff expire on June 30, 2010, Hatcher’s supplemental contract kicks in. According to GSU sports information director Pat Osterman, Hatcher will receive $213,000 per year for three years from the Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation until he finds another gig.

            Hopefully, there’s enough left over for a new coach.            

            Speculation has run rampant about just who that might be — Jeff Monken, Giff Smith, Ivan Jasper, etc., etc.

            All the names being thrown around (save Pete Lembo and Mike Ayers) have one thing in common — Paul Johnson.

            No matter who the next guy is, everyone seems to think that the option is coming back to Beautiful Eagle Creek.

            If that’s the case, it’s going to be hard to recapture the magic that was once GSU football. Picture this abstract metaphor — you dump a glass of Eagle Creek water into the ocean and realize you want that water back. How do you separate the seawater from the Eagle Creek water?

            It looks like Georgia Southern is about to try.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.


I was informed after our win on Saturday that I would no longer be the Head Coach at Georgia Southern.  I am sad and disappointed, but have no regrets.  I took this job with excitement and determination.  We set out to rebuild a program and were well on our way.

This is an excellent University and I am proud to have had an opportunity to be a part of it.  The fan support and passion here is second to none.  Statesboro is an excellent place to live and raise a family.  We have some great friends and great memories from our time at Georgia Southern and they will stay with us always.

We came here with a plan and, as a staff, we worked tirelessly to execute that plan.  I am proud that we leave the Georgia Southern football program in better shape than we found it when we got here. 

I feel for our seniors.  They have given everything they have for Georgia Southern.  They laid it all on the line.  I hate for them to leave with this in their hearts. 

I feel for the younger players.  We sold them on a vision.  We brought in three excellent signing classes.  These are quality young men who will succeed.     

I feel for our fans.  I think the fans know that it takes more than a couple of years to rebuild a program.  The fans want results, but I truly believe they knew they were just around the corner. 

I may not understand the rationale behind the decision to let this staff go.  I am clear on this though:  I appreciate the opportunity to have coached here and I sincerely wish the members of the team nothing but success in the future. 

Tough times don’t last but tough people do.  Chris Hatcher is as tough as it gets.  I will be back on the sidelines soon and I hope Georgia Southern fans root as hard for me as I will be rooting for them.


            - Former Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher