Metro Atlanta's Kennesaw State is starting up a FCS football program in 2015 and is within weeks of hiring its first coach, with an announcement promised by the athletic department before the end of March.
Early accounts had Valdosta State's David Dean as the favorite (he's without question my favorite), but he's yet to be reported as having interviewed. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Georgia Tech defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum and quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon have interviewed, along with one to four others. The Marietta Daily Journal adds Murray State coach Chris Hatcher to the list.
Scott Roussel at FootballScoop.com first reported the Jackets pair had interest. McCollum also recently took his name off the finalists list at Austin Peay, his alma mater.
Athletic director Vaughn Williams has made it clear he wants to hire a coach with deep ties to Georgia recruiting, which at first glance would seem to indicate Marietta native McCollum is an ideal candidate. But McCollum's coaching experience has included very little in-state action, with just two of his 30-odd years worth of coaching spent in Georgia. And not to be unfair, since one man can do only so much, but neither Georgia Tech's defensive line nor recruiting are considered elite in any regard.
McCollum does have head coaching experience, seeing Middle Tennessee from FCS to FBS but only turning in one season with more than six wins along the way.
Bohannon has been Paul Johnson's right-hand man since 1996, working with him at Georgia Southern and Navy as well. I'd be baffled by the decision to bring on a coach who would almost certainly look to install a flexbone option offense similar to Johnson's, considering two of the state's five other Division I scholarship programs will also run that attack. That could leave a very slim market, plus it's not exactly the most exciting scheme to sell new fans on.
He's never been a head coach, but is a Georgia native who played at UGA and has spent a decade coaching in-state.
As for Hatcher, I'd be excited, with reservations:
Hatcher is a former Division II national champion who was born in Georgia and whose coaching experience hasn't taken him beyond Kentucky or Florida. Football Scoop's Scott Roussel says Hatcher is highly thought of by his big-name Air Raid contemporaries and has excellent rapport with his players.
I'd be worried, though, about the fact that he's yet to replicate his Valdosta State success elsewhere, being fired by Georgia Southern and posting an identical record so far at Murray State. He'd be a good choice, but that lingering note of previous in-state FCS shortcoming would nag until shaken.
Hatcher's actually one of the few [former Valdosta State coaches] who didn't quite match his heights once he left Valdosta -- he posted a 76-12 record with Dean as his offensive coordinator and a 36-30 otherwise.