By Chandler Morrison, Sports Editor—
As now former head coach Tom Arth splits to take on the daunting task of revitalizing an FBS Akron squad, it got us here at the University Echo wondering who might be next to take the reigns of a program in need of some new direction.
We compiled a list of ten possible candidates that could take the head coaching position at Chattanooga, even if some are just wishful thinking. While some of these potential candidates are from trusted sources around the program, others are merely speculation based on their ties to the football program, athletic department, and the city of Chattanooga.
So, without further ado, here are some of best estimates (in no particular order) on who might be the future head coach of the Mocs:
Charlotte Offensive Coordinator
Currently on staff with the Charlotte 49ers, it is unclear if he will stay on staff with newly-named head coach Will Healy as the offensive coordinator or even as an assistant. His coaching journey has included stints at North Carolina State (Assistant), Miami (OH) as a head coach, Akron (Offensive Coordinator), and at Youngstown State (Offensive Coordinator) for eight years. Although his record as a head coach at the college level was 17-31, he claimed 2 MAC East Division Championships while at Miami (OH).
The Chattanooga Connection: Montgomery was an assistant at the University of Chattanooga from 1993 to 2000 where he helped coach Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Terrell Owens during his tenure.
Why He’ll Get The Job: With connections to Chattanooga as an assistant in the 1990s and experience as an FBS head coach and coordinator, Montgomery is a really great candidate for the job as he could look to renew his status as a head coach for the first time since 2008.
Why He Won’t Get the Job: Although the accomplishments at Miami (OH) were somewhat impressive, It may not be enough to land a job at Chattanooga where the expectations, regardless of the season, are sky-high after Huesmann’s run in the past decade. It is also possible that Montgomery may join the new Healy-led staff at Charlotte, where he is currently coaching.
Georgia State Inside Linebackers Coach
Wright is currently on staff at FCS program Georgia State where he has been since 2017. Prior to his stint with the Panthers, Wright served four years as an assistant at Miami (OH) under Shane Montgomery and two stints at Chattanooga before and after his time at Miami (OH).
The Chattanooga Connection: Wright was an assistant for the Mocs in the late 1990s and early 2000s after his career as a four-year letterman at Tight End for Chattanooga. He played with Terrell Owens while at Chattanooga. He also coached at Chattanooga under Russ Huesman from 2013 to 2016 as the Linebackers Coach and Special Team Coordinator.
Why He’ll Get the Job: His long stints at Chattanooga are key to his potential as a head coach for the program in the present. He also has experience coaching in the SoCon as he was a linebackers coach for Furman in 2010.
Why He Won’t Get the Job: Wright may have the connections and the experience to be the head coach at Chattanooga, but he may not have the clout that other candidates on this list possess. Either way, he could still be a homerun hire for the Mocs if selected.
ETSU Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach
A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Rader played prep football at Science Hill High School before being recruited to play at East Tennessee State where he was a three year starter. His coaching career has included stints at Troy University in Alabama and two Division III programs in Huntingdon and Maryville. His stop at Maryville included the program’s first ever berth to the Division III playoffs. Rader was a head coach at Maryville for three years before joining the staff at ETSU.
The Chattanooga Connection: Rader is a native of East Tennessee and is no stranger to the program as the Buccaneers compete against the Mocs in the Southern Conference.
Why He’ll Get the Job: His stints as a head coach as the Division III level may not seem to qualify him, but he was ETSU’s Recruiting coordinator from 2015 to 2018, and he also is the current offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. Rader is in a prime position at the right time to take the head coaching job.
Why He Won’t Get the Job: As we saw with now former coach Tom Arth, it is unclear as to whether success at the Division III level will translate to the FCS ranks. Although Rader may want a head coaching job, he may be waiting for the Buccaneers job to open up as his roots are built and steeped in Johnson City where ETSU is located.
Marshall Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator
Although Fuller may have gotten his start in Division III, he quickly rose up the ranks in 199 to be the Co-Defensive Coordinator for Wagner. He did this before taking on a role as a defensive assistant at Richmond under former Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman. He is currently serving a stint as Assistant Head Coach, where he has been since 2013.
The Chattanooga Connection: Fuller was the defensive coordinator under Russ Huesman at Chattanooga from 2009 until 2012 when he bolted for Marshall.
Why He’ll Get The Job: The coaching tree under Russ Huesman is looking up these days with the sudden rise of Will Healy from Chattanooga Recruiting Coordinator to FBS Head Coach at Charlotte. So if you want to take a stab at a head coach, why not look at a former coordinator for the school. Fuller may also want to up his pay a bit. He was named assistant head coach at the start of 2018, but his salary in 2014 was close to $112,000. It is unclear if his pay is higher now, but, in comparison, Arth’s salary was $185,000 when he signed with Chattanooga in 2016.
Why He Won’t Get The Job: This is probably the simplest to answer: He’s currently coaching at an FBS program. Sometimes the money is not worth everything in coaching.
Notre Dame High School Offensive Lineman Coach
Jagodzinski was a former head football coach at Boston College in the mid-2000s, but his resume is as long as a CVS Pharmacy Receipt. After stints as a Graduate Assistant at LSU and as an Assistant at East Carolina, Jagodzinski made a career as an assistant in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1999-2009 in and around his stint at Boston College. He was fired from Boston College after he interviewed for the head coaching position with the New York Jets when his Athletic Director instructed him not to. He later coached for an upstart United Football League team (The Omaha Nighthawks) and Georgia State as an Offensive Coordinator then Associate Head Coach.
The Chattanooga Connection: He currently coaches the offensive line at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He started coaching there in 2017 under current coach Charles Fant. He moved to Chattanooga for personal reasons and could get the coaching job.
Why He’ll Get The Job: Like we stated previously, his resume can stretch a country mile and there seems to be not issue with experience. This could be a home run hire for a coach that has not been a head coach at the college level since 2008.
Why He Won’t Get the Job: Although he may have more experience than anyone of this list, there may be underlying personal reasons that he would prefer to stay at Notre Dame High School rather than Chattanooga.
Former Tennessee Tech Head Coach
Satterfield was previously the head coach at Tennessee Tech where he compiled a record of 6-16, finishing dead last in the Ohio Valley Conference. That being said, Satterfield has been coaching at the FCS level since 1999 and had a stint as the offensive coordinator at FBS Temple briefly from 2013 to 2015. He also coached briefly with Russ Huesman, who was the Defensive Coordinator at the time, at Richmond in 2004.
The Chattanooga Connection: Satterfield is a Greenback, Tenn native and played as a Wide Receiver at East Tennessee State in the late 1990s before getting on as an assistant coach at Chattanooga from 1999-2001. He also coached unter Russ Huesman at Chattanooga from 2009 until 2012 as his offensive coordinator.
Why He’ll Get the Job: His resume is very impressive at the FCS level, and his stints under Huesman certainly have some clout after the success of Will Healy in recent years.
Why He Won’t Get the Job: When a head coach fails to launch lie Satterfield did at Tennessee Tech, even if the stars completely misaligned against him, it’s hard to give him a second chance in such a short span of time. Just look at Lane Kiffin. His time at USC was a complete and to be a head coach he had to go down to the Group of Five tier of schools.
These candidates are the select few that are probably off the radar of Chattanooga or maybe they seem to high profile to come to the Scenic City. None of these candidates have Chattanooga ties (and ultimately that is what brings candidates in the door), but they would either be a great fit for the Mocs or could boost the prominence of the University by name alone. Either way here are four candidates we would like to see or would be interesting, to say the least, here at Chattanooga:
Maine Head Coach
At the FCS level, moves do not usually happen laterally, but when they do it can mean a drastic change for the programs involved in the swap. Harasymiak became the youngest head coach in Division I history in 2016. He and his team are currently in the semifinal round of the FCS Playoffs, and he is in his third year of a four-year contract. His salary is a not-so-whopping $150,000. Just for comparison, Arth racked in a $185,000 salary with his contract with a track record not nearly as great a Harasymiak. Reportedly, he’s been in the conversation for jobs like James Madison and FBS bottom-feeder UMass–who could easily match any FCS offer financially. Both of those jobs have since been filled. It’s unclear if Maine can or would be willing to negotiate an extension to Harasymiak’s contract, but if they do not, Chattanooga could be a great destination for a coach that seems poised for larger things.
Iowa Offensive Line Coach
Before naming a head coach from inside the powerhouse, North Dakota State reportedly had its eye on Iowa’s Offensive Line Coach Polasek. He has a fantastic track record, working with FCS national championship squads like North Dakota State and with a successful MAC program in their flagship 12-2 season, Northern Illinois Huskies in 2013. Three of his Linemen at Iowa are currently playing in the NFL. This coach is definitely a diamond in the rough and will probably be the next big FCS coaching phenom. The one drawback is that Polasek would likely have to take more than a $100,000 pay cut if the Mocs were to pursue him. Spending most of his coaching career in the North Plains and the Midwest Regions, it is unlikely he would ever be considered or looked at, but if Chattanooga could at least give him an interview, they might find that he could be a homerun hire for their program.
Mississippi State Defensive Coordinator
It’s more likely that Shoop would end up at a lower-tiered FBS program, but if the Mocs could make an offer and snag him, they would be getting a fantastic coach. Shoop coached as Villanova, Army, Boston College, Columbia, UMass, Vanderbilt, Penn State, and Tennessee before making his way to Mississippi. He was either a Defensive Backs Coach or Defensive Coordinator at those programs and has been coaching at the FCS level (at least) since 1989 when he was a Graduate Assistant at Yale. This coach is likely too high profile for Chattanooga, but he has more than enough experience for this program. The money at the FBS level, especially in the SEC, is enough to keep even Assistants satisfied and from pursuing other coaching jobs.
Houston Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Out of all our long shots, this is probably the wildest theory. It’s also one that I have the least amount of faith in, but here it goes. Hear me out. Notice the last name. Yes, that is the son of Art Briles. Yes, that is the Baylor University coach that the major sexual assault scandal happened under. The younger Briles, which we are talking about above, was the Offensive Coordinator at FAU under Lane Kiffin and now at Houston under Major Applewhite. He cannot seem to get a head coaching job at the FBS level that he is well qualified for. Briles was in talks with Tennessee and then Florida State for their offensive coordinator positions, but if cannot get one of those jobs, he could look to the FCS level where his name and his prominence could recover enough to warrant a head coaching job at the FBS level. It may not even be Chattanooga, but it could happen. This is definitely the tin-foil hat candidate, and we do not expect him to ever be in consideration, but if pigs fly, you heard it here first.