Georgia Southern University Director of Athletics Sam Baker announced the hiring of Chris Hatcher as head football coach in January 2007. The sixth full-time head coach in Eagle Football takes over the Georgia Southern program following a successful seven years at Valdosta State (Ga.).
“Chris Hatcher was someone I felt embodied all we were looking for,” said Baker. “Chris has a proven track record as a head coach - capturing the national championship in 2004 and recording a .864 winning percentage during his seven-year tenure at Valdosta State. I looked for a coach who knows how to win and I believe Coach Hatcher can do that at the Division I level. I also wanted to hire a coach with strong recruiting ties in Georgia and Florida. Coach Hatcher knows the area well... Our Athletic Department’s charge was to go out and hire a head coach that will improve on the progress we made off the field, and have that translate to on-the-field success. I think we have that coach in Chris Hatcher.”
The winningest coach in Blazers’ history, Hatcher was 76-12 at his alma mater. When Hatcher took over as head coach in 2000, he wasted no time molding the Valdosta State program into the ‘Hatch Attack’. In his first year back at VSU, Hatcher took a 4-7 squad the previous year and turned it around to a 10-2 record (8-1 in GSC action) and a berth in the Division II playoffs. He coached quarterback Dusty Bonner who was a two-time winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year, an award Hatcher won himself in 1994.
His 2001 and 2002 teams posted back-to-back undefeated records during the regular season, part of a Gulf South Conference record 35 straight victories during the regular season.
During the 2004 championship season, the Blazers lost their season-opener before rattling off 13 consecutive victories, capped by a 36-31 victory over Pittsburg State in the title game. Hatcher was named ‘National Coach of the Year’ by the American Football Coaches Association and was the offensive coordinator for the East squad at the Hula Bowl.
In 2005, Valdosta opened the season ranked No. 1 for four straight weeks and saw the season culminate with a sixth-straight NCAA postseason appearance. Despite an 8-2 record last fall, the 10th-ranked Blazers did not receive an invitation to the playoffs, marking the first time that occurred in the Hatcher era.
Last year’s team finished sixth nationally in passing offense (283 yards per game), 12th in scoring offense (34.9 ppg) and 19th in total offense (389.9 yards). However, Hatcher’s teams have been successful in all three facets. The 2006 defense ranked 27th nationally in scoring defense (15.7 points allowed) while the special teams ranked third in punt returns (17.3 yards) and blocked seven kicks.
Over his seven years at Valdosta, Hatcher:
posted an .864 winning percentage
registered a 68-7 mark in the regular season
was 56-6 in Gulf South Conference play
had 60 All-GSC selections
coached 16 All-America selections.
The Macon (Ga.) native spent one year as quarterbacks/tight ends coach at the University of Central Florida where he worked with Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper, then three years working with the quarterbacks at the University of Kentucky where he worked under former VSU head coach Hal Mumme. During his time with the Wildcats he coached the No. 1 NFL draft pick, All-America quarterback Tim Couch. While at UK, Hatcher and the Wildcats played in the 1999 Outback Bowl, the program’s first New Year Day’s Bowl in 47 years then followed that the following year with a berth in the ’99 Music City Bowl. It marked the first time the Wildcats had consecutive bowl appearances in 15 years.
After his playing days, Hatcher worked as a student assistant coach in 1995 at Valdosta State. While there he coached All-America quarterback Lance Funderburk, a runner-up for the Harlon Hill Trophy.
Hatcher’s success as a player helped him develop into one of the nation’s winningest coaches. A two-time All-America quarterback at VSU (1993 and 1994), Hatcher threw for 11,363 yards and 121 touchdowns during his stellar career. During his senior year in 1994 he led the Blazers to their first-ever postseason berth, advancing to the quarterfinals, and when it was all said and done set 29 VSU passing and total offense records.
Among the national records he once set were a 68.5 career completion percentage and streak of 20 straight completions in a game against New Haven. Hatcher held 14 Valdosta State, 13 Gulf South Conference and 17 Division II national records. He also started 41 consecutive games, posting a 29-10-2 record.
Not only did Hatcher excel on the field, he was just as successful in the classroom. Twice he received the Gulf South Conference’s Commissioner’s Trophy which is awarded to the league’s Most Outstanding Student-Athlete. He finished his senior year by winning several national honors including: the NCAA Top Eight Award, the CoSIDA Academic All-America National Player of the Year and a postgraduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
At the time when Hatcher won the Harlon Hill Trophy, he won by the second-largest voting margin in the then 19-year history of the award. Hatcher was also voted to the GSC Football team of the 1990s.
The honors continued to add up even after his playing days. Hatcher was named to the Valdosta State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, in his first year of eligibility. The personable head coach was also elected into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame that same year.
Hatcher graduated from Valdosta State in 1995. He and his wife Lori, also a graduate of VSU, are the parents of a son, Ty. The couple is expecting their second child in July.
- Category: Football
- Published on Thursday, 20 September 2007 00:29