Six days before the biggest game of the century, the Tulane soccer team may lose coach Willie Fritz.
With the Green Wave (10-2) set to host Central Florida (9-3) in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference championship game, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that Georgia Tech had offered Fritz his coaching job and was trying to get him on the spot accept, and that if he did not agree on Sunday, the school would likely move on to other candidates.
Fritz didn’t respond to a text message asking for clarification, but a source close to him said there have been serious talks with Georgia Tech but no agreement has been reached.
News of Georgia Tech’s offer came two days after Tulane earned his way into the American Athletic Conference championship game by beating Cincinnati 27-24. It was a landmark season in every way imaginable, with the Wave winning 10 games for the fourth time in school history and appearing in a conference championship game for the first time.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the pressure for a quick fix from Georgia Tech is to prevent as many Yellow Jackets players as possible from entering the transfer portal — a new reality for teams in the coaching flow. Georgia Tech fired coach Geoff Collins in September after starting 3-1 in his fourth year and taking his overall record there to 10-28. The Yellow Vests have won four of their last eight games under interim coach Brent Key, who was the assistant head/offensive coach. Key was considered a finalist for the full-time job along with Fritz and Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, among others.
Tulane, who was ranked 19th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, moved up to 18th in Sunday’s The Associated Press poll. The win over Cincinnati was the first of the wave since 1984 against a ranked opponent in the AP poll.
Right after the Wave’s win over Cincinnati, Fritz didn’t sound like a coach considering a move.
“I felt like we could do it,” he said of reaching the UK Championship game. “It’s been hard. We’ve found our way here over the last few years by recruiting. That’s always your goal to win. We were so close. There were a couple of years where we were really close, eight , to win nine or ten games. We really did. The ball just didn’t go our way.”
Fritz, 62, is in his seventh year at Tulane and goes 41-45. He went 4-8 in his first season and 5-7 in his second before leading the Wave to three straight bowl games in 2018 and ended 2019 7-6 and 2020 6-6. Tulane only appeared in four bowls 35 years prior to his arrival and had finished all but three of the others under .500 in that span.
The Wave’s record fell to 2-10 last year when Hurricane Ida forced the team to evacuate to Birmingham, Alabama for nearly a month at the start, but the downturn proved to be just a blip after Fritz lost six co- Strength and conditioning coordinator Kurt Hester had changed trainers and hired new ones.
Tulane finished seventh in the AAC preseason media poll this August and far exceeded outside expectations by earning Fritz’s first career win against a Power Five opponent at eventual Big 12 league contender Kansas State; Wins in Houston in overtime when third-string quarterback Kai Horton was forced to play all but the opening series; and capped a perfect 5-0 record with his victory in Cincinnati in the battle for the AAC’s best record in the regular season.
Before coming to Tulane, Fritz had a 193-74-1 record over four coaching stints. He was 17-7 in two years at Georgia Southern when the school switched from FCS to FBS and won the Sun Belt Conference championship in his freshman season. He led Sam Houston State to the FCS Championship in the middle two years of his four-year stint from 2010-13, going 40-15. He also coached Division II Central Missouri from 1997 to 2009 and Blinn Junior College from 1993 to 1996.
If Fritz leaves, both Tulane and Cincinnati will be looking for new coaches. Luke Fickell, who led the Bearcats to the CFP last season after winning back-to-back AAC titles, took the job in Wisconsin this weekend.