With the 2022 season mercifully coming to an end, it’s time for the announcement that we’ve all been waiting for since Geoff Collins’ firing in late September.
It’s time for J Batt to make it official and announce Jamey Chadwell as Georgia Tech’s next head football coach.
It’s Occam’s Razor – the easiest decision, and the right one. Hell, there’s a reason he was picked first overall in the FTRS (Hypothetical) Head Coach Mock Draft several months back. Here’s why:
Track Record of Success
Chadwell has been a head coach for almost all of the last 13 years in the southeast. He’s compiled a 22- 14 record in three years at D-II North Greenville, a 35-14 record in four years at FCS Charleston Southern, and a 39-20 record (so far) in his last four years as full-time head coach at Coastal Carolina. (I’m not counting his 3-9 season as Coastal Carolina’s interim head coach in 2017, which was the Chanticleers’ first full season in the FBS, and in which he stood while Joe Moglia was on medical leave the entire season. If you still want to count that season against Chadwell after all of that context, more power to you.)
Chadwell has won everywhere he’s been for any meaningful amount of time, even when you consider the tough first year his programs have had to endure. The level of consistent success that he’s built over the last three years in a very competitive Sun Belt is not something to be ignored – the Chanticleers are 31-4 (20-3), set to play for their second Sun Belt Championship, and on pace for their second ranked finish during that span. Chadwell also won multiple National Coach of the Year awards after the Chanticleers’ 2020 season.
While it’s fair to think that winning at the G5 level doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to winning in the ACC, winning consistently across different levels of football does seem to be something that translates to the Power-5 – just look at what Lance Leipold (who won 6 – yes, SIX – Division III National Championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater) has been able to accomplish in six years at Buffalo and in only two years at a previously hapless Kansas program.
If you knew the name Jamey Chadwell before reading this column, you probably had heard that he runs an option-based offense at Coastal Carolina. If you knew that, and you were also vehemently opposed to hiring Chadwell, you were probably picturing an offense that looks a lot like Paul Johnson’s flexbone option offense that we saw at Georgia Tech from 2008-2018.
Saying that the offense Chadwell runs is option-based is correct, but you tell me – does this formation look like a play that we saw Paul Johnson’s offense ever run?
Of course not – we essentially never saw Paul Johnson’s offense come out in a shotgun formation, nor did it ever seem to involve motion from one of the wide receivers.
How about this one?
…and, I guess this one does have some similarities, between the positioning of the H-Back and the orbit motion?
All three of those formations set up triple option plays. Yes, Chadwell runs an offense that uses a lot of the same guiding principles that Paul Johnson’s offense used. No, they are not the same offense. The Chanticleers have attempted at least 24 passes in 8 of 10 games so far this year – Paul Johnson’s offenses last attempted 24+ passes against Virginia in October of 2015.
Chadwell’s offenses finished top-10 in SP+ in 2020 (9th) and 2021 (6th). At the time of this writing, they’re 40th in offensive SP+ in 2022 – not quite as dazzling, but that’s with third-year starting QB Grayson McCall missing time as he’s dealt with injuries for part of the year. (It’s also still a major upgrade on Georgia Tech’s 105th-ranked offense, and would be the second-best offense in the ACC Coastal Division this year.)
Put simply, Chadwell’s offenses are productive, exciting to watch, and unique. Having a schematic advantage on offense is a clear path to winning on the field in today’s world of college football, especially for teams that are not regularly at a talent advantage over their opponents
Scouting and Evaluation
Coastal Carolina’s recruiting rankings under Chadwell aren’t blowing anyone away, but their scouting and evaluation processes are very well respected within the industry. Bud Elliott of 247Sports (one of the media’s experts on recruiting) recently remarked on the Cover 3 Podcast that there are several teams around the southeast who keep close tabs on scholarship offers that Coastal Carolina gives out, indicating that they’re consistently on the tip of the spear when it comes to finding talented players.
Assuming that’s true, this is directly related to suppressed recruiting rankings, in that the players that Coastal is finding are probably not well-scouted by major recruiting services (meaning individual player rankings aren’t high), and that higher-profile programs are swooping in and getting credit for signing players that Coastal identified.
That narrative has played out on the field as well — players that Coastal does sign also seem to punch above their recruiting rankings on a regular basis. Look no further than McCall, who was a two-star recruit out of high school with only one other FBS offer (from Army). After redshirting as a true freshman, he’s since been two-time Sun Belt player of the year, compiled a 74-7 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, and is getting attention as a potential NFL Draft pick.
It’s clear that Georgia Tech has some institutional constructs that limit the program’s ceiling in recruiting both players from high school and out of the transfer portal. Properly counteracting those constructs to sustainably build a roster at Georgia Tech that’s on par with (or better than) other opponents in the ACC starts with a sharp eye in scouting and evaluation, and continues with proven player development. Chadwell’s track record of says he’ll bring both of those capabilities with him as head coach.
Don’t Overthink This
It’s been a fun ride and a true joy watching Brent Key live his dream as Georgia Tech’s head coach over the last couple of months, and the team has undoubtedly played hard for him. But you can’t hire a coach purely because his opponent’s All American wide receiver inexplicably dropped a likely game-winning touchdown at the end of a game.
At this point, it’s time to think about setting this program up for success over the next several years, and putting the program’s future in the hands of someone whose head coaching career began two months ago is shortsighted, risky, and dangerous.
Georgia Tech’s next head coach needs to be someone with a proven track record, who will restore a sense of unique offensive identity, and whose skills match most closely with what the program requires to be successful. Chadwell checks every box, and the best path forward is obvious:
Georgia Tech needs Jamey Chadwell as its next head coach.
Georgia Tech needs Brent Key as its next head coach instead?
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