All right, with the news of Derek Mason’s firing, guess what that means?
IT’S COACHING SEARCH SEASON!
And we’re not gonna waste any time giving the people what they want, let’s get this coaching search started with the Anchor of Gold favorite for the job. And he even made Chris Lee’s initial Hot Board, so we’re not completely crazy! (But we are completely crazy, and you know that.)
Current job: Head coach, Coastal Carolina (since 2019)
Previous jobs: Offensive coordinator, Coastal Carolina (2017-18, interim head coach in 2017); Head coach, Charleston Southern (2013-16), Delta State (2012), North Greenville (2009-11); assistant coach, East Tennessee State and Charleston Southern
Career record: 77-51
Ah, yes. Of course it’s him.
Jamey Chadwell first came onto Anchor of Gold’s radar in 2014 when, as Charleston Southern’s head coach, he came to Dudley Field and very nearly beat our Commodores, losing 21-20. (Narrowly beating an FCS team was an early sign that Derek Mason might not work out.) That had the Anchor of Gold commentariat (specifically, Andrew) openly calling for Chadwell to replace Mason as head coach, and Andrew may get his wish, six years later.
We for real need to make a play for this coach to be our new OC
That drive was rather beautiful to watch. Great mix of run and pass with misdirection thrown in. Triple option, speed option, QB read. A very well planned attack.
So, yeah. Since 2014, Chadwell won the Big South and made the FCS Playoffs in back-to-back seasons, then moved on to Coastal Carolina, initially as offensive coordinator (and interim coach in 2017), promoted to head coach upon Joe Moglia’s retirement. And this year, Coastal is 9-0 and currently ranked 14th in the AP Top 25. Coastal Carolina.
Why he’d be a good fit: When I think of my ideal coaching candidate, it’s someone with previous head coaching experience, an offensive background, and who’s young and energetic. Chadwell checks all of those boxes. Coastal Carolina is averaging 38.7 points per game this season. And his record as a head coach has been pretty successful: his career record is 77-51, and that actually looks quite a bit better if you leave out his one season as an interim coach at Coastal (when the Chanticleers went 3-9.)
His offense gets labeled by some as an option attack, but it’s a bit more modern than that; Coastal throws the ball quite a bit. And for those who care about such things, Chadwell is a Tennessee native from Anderson County, and he graduated from ETSU where he played quarterback.
Why it wouldn’t work: Charleston Southern got hit with probation and had to vacate some wins after he left, though from the sound of things, it was much more the athletic department that was at fault in the violations rather than the coaching staff. But that might cause Vanderbilt to think twice either way.
The other issue here is that Chadwell has never coached at a Power 5 school, even as an assistant: his experience is entirely at lower levels, and in fact, his current gig at Coastal Carolina is the only time he’s even worked at an FBS school. Now I don’t know how relevant this is — after all, this feels like the kind of thing that athletic directors think about to talk themselves into hiring a Butch Jones rather than hiring a guy from lower levels — but if it’s a deal-breaker, then so be it. Then again, that basically describes Bobby Johnson outside of one year as Clemson’s defensive coordinator, so it’s not as though Vanderbilt has never gone down the road of hiring a coach from a smaller program in South Carolina.
Overall thoughts: One of the hardest parts about getting a feel for a coaching search is figuring out who’s actually available, because that’s obviously the key decision point. Just based on the names that are getting floated early on in the process, Jamey Chadwell is probably the best coach available to Vanderbilt (and yes, he’d probably take the job, what with Vanderbilt paying Derek Mason roughly ten times what Coastal Carolina is paying Chadwell.) And per Chris Lee, he’s interested in the job, news that will make parlagi very, very happy.
That said, all of that is based on the idea that the candidates available to Vanderbilt are mostly going to be Group of 5 or FCS head coaches (and probably not even the hotter AAC coaches), coordinators, and retreads. My assessment of this would change, considerably, if a successful Power 5 head coach were available to Vanderbilt. But otherwise, this is quite likely the best candidate for Vanderbilt. All right, Anchor of Gold has officially come full circle.