Georgia Southern head football coach Chris Hatcher has been named one of 16 finalists for the Eddie Robinson national Coach of the Year award. The Sports Network released the list of finalists last Thursday.
Hatcher joins fellow Southern Conference coaches Jerry Moore (Appalachian State) and Pete Lembo (Elon) on the list.
The Robinson Award, named for the legendary former Grambling coach, has been given annually by The Sports Network to the FCS national coach of the year since 1987. This year’s winner will be announced on Dec. 13 at the Sports Network’s annual awards banquet to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Hired last January to take over the Eagle football program that was coming off the worst modern era record at 3-8, Hatcher turned Georgia Southern around to a 7-4 team for the 2007 regular season. The Eagles contended for a Southern Conference title all season long.
Georgia Southern posted wins against three Top 25 teams: No. 5 Appalachian State, No. 25 The Citadel and No. 10 Wofford all in consecutive weeks. Two of those wins came on the road when GSU broke Appalachian State’s 30-game home win streak and at Wofford. Georgia Southern had not won at either place since 2001.
The Eagles have also recorded quality wins over South Dakota State (27th place in current ‘Top 25’ poll) and at Coastal Carolina.Hatcher has the Eagles on the verge of making the playoffs despite the squad being hindered by injuries, as 16 players (on the 2-deep) have missed a total of 97 games due to injuries alone.
Twice during his head coaching tenure at Valdosta State Hatcher has been named national ‘Coach of the Year’ - 2002 (Schutt Sports) and 2004 (AFCA and Johnny Vaught).