Tulane’s Willie Fritz receiving serious consideration for Georgia Tech head-coach job

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz calls for a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz calls for a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Tulane coach Willie Fritz is receiving serious consideration by Georgia Tech for its coaching opening, a person familiar with details of the search told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday.

Fritz is one of four candidates that Tech has interviewed for the position, along with Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell, Tech interim coach Brent Key and Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, a different person familiar with the search told the AJC on Saturday. The process with Fritz, though, has advanced well past the interview stage.

Most speculation has centered on Key, who has won the support and appreciation of Tech players and fans for his leadership during his eight-game interim term, and Chadwell, who has led Coastal Carolina to a 31-5 record over the past three seasons and become a hot candidate among coaches from schools in Group of 5 conferences. However, few details have emerged from the search led by athletic director J Batt.

Fritz distinguishes himself among the four candidates for having done something that Batt has been hired to achieve – the building of a program at a school with high academic standards.

Fritz was hired at Tulane in December 2015 to replace a regime that was 15-34 with one winning season over a four-year period. The three coaches before Fritz, covering a total of 17 seasons, had just three winning seasons, two bowl trips and one winning conference record.

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz celebrates with offensive lineman Joey Claybrook after their NCAA college football game against Kansas State Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. Tulane won 17-10. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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In seven seasons, the Green Wave have posted three winning seasons (including this year), gone to three bowl games (with a fourth trip upcoming) and have had two winning records in American Athletic Conference play. That includes this year’s breakout season, in which the Green Wave have won the AAC regular-season championship and will play Cincinnati on Saturday in the conference title game. Tulane is 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the AAC and ranked 19th. The last time Tulane was in the Top 25 before this season was 1998.

Fritz’s overall record at Tulane is 41-45, weighed down by a 2-10 record in 2021 during which the team was displaced for much of the season by Hurricane Ida.

Fritz is in his 30th season as a head coach, having started at the junior-college level, then Division II and FCS before coaching at Georgia Southern in its first two seasons at the FBS level before getting hired at Tulane. His record at Georgia Southern was 17-7.

Key finished with a 4-4 mark as interim in place of former coach Geoff Collins, who was fired four games into his fourth season. Most notable in Key’s leadership as interim were wins over two Top-25 teams on the road, Pittsburgh and North Carolina, and the team’s energy and resilience in spite of the coaching change and injuries to the team’s first- and second-string quarterbacks.

O’Brien has served as coordinator at Alabama for the past two seasons after six-plus seasons as head coach of the Houston Texans. His record there was 52-48 with four AFC South titles. He was previously head coach at Penn State, where he coached for two years and took on the enormous challenge of succeeding the legendary Joe Paterno following his firing in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The Nittany Lions finished with an 8-4 record in 2012 in O’Brien’s first season, earning him several national coach of the year citations. He has a direct connection to Tech, having been on the staffs of George O’Leary and Chan Gailey from 1995-2002.

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