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Healy’s next building project set in Charlotte

Robert Smith/APSU Athletics Communications

By Jimmy Trodglen

Editor

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Will Healy didn’t waste his first head coaching opportunity, orchestrating one of college football’s most improbable turnarounds.

Now he will have a chance to turn around the fortunes of a relatively new program.

Healy, who was named the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year after directing Austin Peay to an 8-4 finish, was named the head football coach at Charlotte Tuesday.

Healy coached the Govs the past three seasons, finishing 13-21 record. Austin Peay assistant coach Josh Eargle was named the interim coach while Austin Peay begins its search for the program’s 20th head football coach.

It was also be the first coaching search for Gerald Harrison, who was named Austin Peay’s athletics director in July.

“I would like to thank Will for the time and effort spent turning Austin Peay football into a competitive program,” said Harrison in a release Monday night. “Coach Healy established a foundation on which we can build and continue to improve upon into the future.”

Healy replaces Brad Lambert, who oversaw the resurrection of the Charlotte 49ers program. Lambert was 22-48 in the six seasons since football was re-introduced.

Healy took over an Austin Peay football program that had the nation’s longest losing streak, with his success landing in year No. 2.

Austin Peay went 8-4, including a 7-1 finish in the OVC. Healy signed a new four-year contract worth $860,000 last December after South Alabama showed interest in hiring Healy.

Austin Peay entered this season ranked in the preseason polls and picked to finish second in the OVC. The Govs struggled with consistency and putting games away, finishing 5-6 after beating Murray State in the season finale.

Healy built Austin Peay’s program through strong recruiting efforts that equaled three consecutive top five recruiting classes.

Charlotte 49ers

Charlotte, which plays in the East Division in Conference USA, dropped football after the 1948 season. Charlotte created a football feasibility committee in 2007 exploring the idea of adding football. A year later, the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustee voted to add football. Charlotte played its first game in 2013.

Future Charlotte schedule

Austin Peay opened this past season against Georgia, which played in the SEC title game against Alabama last weekend. Outside of conference play in 2019, Healy and Charlotte will play UMass, Gardner-Webb, Appalachian State and Clemson, which will play Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

“We will begin a national search immediately to identify the next head football coach of our program and keep Austin Peay football moving on an upward trajectory,” Harrison said.

The timing of Austin Peay’s next head coaching hire will be critical with the December signing period less than three weeks away.

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360

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