Willie Fritz, who led Tulane to a 10-2 record and the right to host this season’s American Athletic Conference championship game, remains the frontrunner for becoming Georgia Tech’s new head coach.
Reports earlier on Sunday suggested the deal between Fritz and Georgia Tech was imminent, but no agreement had been reached between the two sides as of Sunday night. The Atlanta Journal Constitution said that “everything points to it” that Fritz will be the new Yellow Jackets coach, but that it “could be a few days before a deal is finalized.”
I must clarify and retract my earlier tweet about the Georgia Tech coaching quest and will accept any sorrow directed at me. As far as I know there is no deal. However, all signs are pointing to Willie Fritz as Tech’s next head coach.https://t.co/QMpUjP9SUa
— Ken Sugiura (@ksugiuraajc) November 28, 2022
If Fritz joins the Yellow Jackets, it’s not immediately clear if he’ll coach Saturday’s AAC title game against UCF at Yulman Stadium. Even if he does, it seems unlikely that he’ll be coaching the bowl game that would likely be the Cotton Bowl as the Green Wave defeats the Knights to become the top-ranking champion of the group of 5 schools.
Georgia Tech wanted to act quickly after the season ended to manage both sides of the transfer portal, which will reopen next week. And indeed, it all came together quickly, as Fritz’s name was only linked to the opening in the past few days and, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, was interviewed on Sunday.
Georgia Tech fired athletic director Brent Stansbury and head coach Geoff Collins in late September after a 3-1 start. The school last month named J Batt as its new athletic director, with his first job hiring Collins’ replacement. Batt spent the last five years at the University of Alabama as Executive Deputy Director of Athletics, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Revenue Officer.
Fritz, 62, led Tulane to three bowl games in his first six seasons before the 2022 campaign breakthrough.
After a 2-10 run in a challenging 2021 season that began with Tulane spending almost a month in Birmingham, Alabama and losing a marquee home game to Oklahoma to Hurricane Ida, Fritz was able to keep his team intact and primarily important acquisitions were made in the transfer portal era, and the result was an improvement of eight wins – a feat that Fritz will likely earn for the National Coach of the Year award.
After scoring the expected lopsided victories over UMass and Alcorn State earlier in the season, Fritz notched up a 17-10 marquee win at Kansas State on September 17, which grew even bigger as the Wildcats advanced into the top 25.
On October 16, Green Wave entered the top 25 for the first time since their undefeated 1998 season and stayed there for seven straight weeks.
Friday’s 27-24 win in Cincinnati not only earned Tulane the right to host next weekend’s American Athletic Conference championship game, but gave the Green Wave their first win over a team that has been in The Associated Press poll since Listed in 62 trials in 1984, snapping up the longest such active streak among FBS schools.
Fritz has ties to Georgia, having coached at Georgia Southern for two seasons before accepting Tulane’s position in December 2015. He went 18-7 with the Eagles.
In this third season of nine wins or more in the past 49 years Uptown, the Green Wave head coach could be hot on the heels of that success.
In 1998, Tommy Bowden left Tulane 11-0 after a regular season to take the job at Clemson.
In the spring after a 9-3 season in 1979, Larry Smith left Tulane to take the job in Arizona.
And now, it seems, Willie Fritz could join the list.