With the hire of a new AD recently, the search for a new head coach at Georgia Tech will start to take shape soon. It is going to be the first big hire for the new Yellow Jackets athletic director J Batt while at Tech and he is going to need to be thorough in his search for the new coach.
After writing profiles for Deion Sanders, Jamey Chadwell, Bill O’Brien, Dan Mullen, Dell McGee, Matt Rhule, and Todd Monken, it is time for a new installation in this series.
One of the under the radar stories of this crazy 2022 college football season is Tulane not only being a ranked team, but the AAC co-favorite with the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Green Wave are 7-1. The head coach of the Green Wave is Willie Fritz and I think he would be a sneaky good candidate for the Georgia Tech head coaching job and not only for what he has done at Tulane. Fritz had a successful run right here in the state of Georgia as the head coach at Georgia Southern and helped the Eagles make the transition to the Sun Belt.
Fritz got his first head coaching job as a junior college head coach at Blinn college in 1993. Blinn had been a struggling program before he had arrived, going 5-24-1 in the previous three seasons. Fritz won two junior college national championships at Blinn and had a 39-5-1 record.
Fritz would leave Blinn after the 1996 season to go and become the head coach at Division II Central Missouri and he would remain there through the 2009 season. During his 13 years at Central Missouri, Fritz posted 11 winning seasons and led them to their first ever Division II playoff appearance. Fritz finished his career at Central Missouri with a record of 97-47.
Fritz’s next job came when he took the head coaching job at Sam Houston State. He led Sam Houston State to back to back FCS national championship game appearances in 2011 and 2012. In three of his four seasons with Sam Houston State, Fritz had three winning seasons.
Georgia Southern was making the move up to the FBS level and their head coach, Jeff Monken, had just left to become the head coach at Army. This was going to be a big move up for the Eagles and they turned to Fritz to lead them. In his first season in Statesboro, he led the Eagles to a 9-3 record, including an unbeaten mark in conference play. Georgia Southern could not compete in a bowl game that year because it was their first season since moving up from the FCS level.
In 2015, Fritz helped guide the Eagles to its first bowl game in program history and he had a record of 8-4 and 6-2 in the Sun Belt. The Eagles almost pulled off a stunning upset against Georgia in Athens as well, losing in overtime to the Bulldogs.
Some notable players that went to the NFL and were drafted from Fritz’s time at Georgia Southern include running back Matt Brieda and linebacker Antwione Williams. Current Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo also played for Fritz while at Georgia Southern.
While Fritz helped get the Eagles to their first bowl game, he did not coach in that bowl game. Fritz took the job at Tulane and while he went 4-8 and 5-7 in 2016 and 2017, he broke through and took the Green Wave to back-to-back-to-back bowl games in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Tulane won two of those three bowl games.
Notable NFL players he has coached while at Tulane include Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney and Tennessee Titans running back Dontrell Hilliard.
Th program suffered a down season in 2021, going 2-10, but they have rebounded nicely and are currently 7-1. Tulane is in the top 25 and are seen as the biggest threat to Cincinnati to win the AAC, which could mean the Green Wave could be in a New Year’s Six Game at the end of the season.
His cumulative coaching record up to this point is 192-113. Dating back to his time at Central Missouri, Fritz has only had five losing seasons since 1997, which is impressive.
So should Georgia Tech look at hiring Fritz and would he be interested?
The answer to both questions is yes.
Fritz is a proven program builder and has won at every stop that he has been. His offenses are some of the best rushing attacks in the country, as evidenced by his time at both Georgia Southern and Tulane. In 2019, Tulane had a running game that averaged nearly 250 yards per game, which was good for 13th in the country.
He has guided Tulane to some of its best seasons in the last 40 years and has them competing for a bowl game year in and year out, which is quite the accomplishment at such a tough job.
He was in the mix for the Kansas job in 2021 before the Jayhawks hired Lance Leipold and I think if the right opportunity came open, Fritz would take it.
He has been able to identify guys that fit his program and system and then turn those guys into productive college players and some of them NFL players. I don’t know that his familiarity with the state of Georgia is a big plus, considering that he only spent two years at Georgia Southern, but it certainly does not hurt. He made smart hires while at Georgia Southern (like Dell McGee) who knew the state and the recruiting landscape in Georgia well and that will be vital if Georgia Tech comes calling.
Overall, his ability to guide multiple programs to winning seasons, develop players, and his offensive coaching acumen (especially in the run game) make him a good candidate for this head coaching job and I think the Yellow Jackets would be wise to give Fritz a call.
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