Garrett Sanders, Correspondent
Coming into the 2019 FCS College Football season, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks had very high expectations for the year. The Gamecocks were ranked in the Top 10 in the AP Preseason FCS Poll and were heavy favorites to win the OVC. With 15 combined returning starters on both sides of the ball, the potential was limitless for JSU.
However, the season started in the worst possible way for the Gamecocks. After a head scratching decision to release a controversial hype video on opening day, it got rocky. JSU would lose their first game of the year to an unranked Southeastern Louisiana team.
The Gamecocks knew that despite taking a loss on opening day, the season was still not lost from their grasp. JSU would go on and win their next three games. This included what most would have thought to be a signature win against number four Eastern Washington for John Grass. Little did everyone know that for the rest of the season after those three games, Grass’s job security would be the hottest topic in Jacksonville.
Now, let’s not get carried away with this. The topic of John Grass’s job security was a discussion that has been brought up numerous times prior up to that point. With the inconsistent and continual disappointments of being eliminated early in FCS Playoff contention year to year, Gamecock fans everywhere were getting fed up with it. The difference between then and now is that fans everywhere were in denial. Now? The true colors are coming out.
With a very poor finish to the 2019 season losing their last three games of the season, Grass Is going to have some tough questions to answer. And depending on how he responds to those questions, it might cause him his job at Jacksonville State. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a flashback to 2017.
The Tennessee Titans were a team that had high hopes in 2017. They had a lot of talent heading into the season and were considered a dangerous team to make a run for the Playoffs. The Titans head coach, Mike Mularkey, was coming off a winning season in 2016, something the Titans had not accomplished since 2011. Needless to say, Mularkey was a coach who limited his team’s potential.
The Titans ended up in 2017 making the Playoffs. Not only that, the Titans won a Playoff game in Kansas City despite trailing at halftime 21-3. However, the Titans ended their season in the AFC Divisional round against the New England Patriots. But what if I told you that the Titans fired Mike Mularkey a few days later because of how he responded to a question about his coaching staff.
Mike Mularkey and John Grass have two very similar situations. Both of them were loyal to their coaching staff despite it causing their teams huge amounts of potential. Both of them also have had successful tenures at their positions coaching. However, the one thing that Mularkey has done that Grass has not done yet is address whether if he will retain his coaching staff.
Grass has been a very loyal coach to his crew, but that loyalty to his staff could be the difference in whether or not Greg Seitz will pull the plug. Fans in Jacksonville are getting impatient and want to see the Gamecocks compete for championships.
The Titans let go of Mike Mularkey due to loyalty on his staff. Limiting the team’s potential was something the Titans could not afford, even if it meant firing their head coach who had been successful.
Grass has a decision to make. Limit his team’s potential by being loyal to his coaches and take a risk of getting the boot, or make a change to his staff that will ignite a spark come next season. Either way, it will tell us a lot about the future of where JSU’s Football program is heading.