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Lamb to be Mercer’s new football coach
The timing is almost too good to be true.
While Mercer officials were holding a news conference on Nov. 19 announcing the resumption of football after a 70-year hiatus, Furman was preparing a news release that Bobby Lamb was resigning as the Paladins’ head coach.
About two months later, Mercer is the beneficiary of Lamb’s only losing season at Furman and will announce Lamb on Thursday as its first head football coach since 1941.
A news conference is reportedly scheduled for Thursday, but the school hasn’t announced it yet as of early Tuesday afternoon.
The men’s basketball team hosts Jacksonville on Thursday night, and it would appear that a public introduction of Lamb would take place, most likely at halftime.
Mercer plans to play football in the fall of 2013. Furman has been playing since 1889, with about a little more than a dozen seasons of inactivity for a variety of reasons.
Contacted at his home in Taylor, S.C., just outside of Greenville, Lamb respectfully declined comment. His home phone had been disconnected, and he said, “We disconnected that a while ago; we didn’t use it.”
Lamb is a native of Augusta who grew up in Commerce and graduated from there before spending nearly three decades at Furman as a player and coach.
His father Ray is the coordinator of high school relations at Georgia, and brother Hal is the highly successful head football coach at Calhoun.
Lamb brings a solid reputation on and off the field, as an offensive mind who is focused on academics, as well as being personable and outgoing with fans and media.
Furman led the Southern Conference football teams in the NCAA’s Graduation Progress Rate (GSR) and Academic Progress Rate (APR) for six straight years. The Paladins had 15 All-Americans and 91 all-conference selections during Lamb’s tenure.
And he’ll start things up at a school similar in many ways to the one where he has spent his adult life.
Furman’s main campus traditional undergraduate enrollment of 2,600 is about the same as Mercer’s. Furman is a private liberal arts school with no specific religious affiliation, and Mercer emphasizes similar curriculum while still retaining a strong Baptist connection despite no longer being officially affiliated with the Baptist church.
Furman has 17 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports – as well as 16 club sports – while Mercer has 16 sanctioned sports, not including women’s lacrosse, which begins play in 2011-12, or football.
Lamb played quarterback at Furman and was a two-time all-conference selection. Upon graduation, he joined the staff as an assistant in 1986 and worked under Jimmy Satterfield and Bobby Johnson.
When Johnson left to take over at Vanderbilt, he was succeeded by Lamb, a member of Furman’s athletics hall of fame.
Furman went to the FCS playoffs in four of Lamb’s first five seasons, including a 21-6 two-year run that included trips to the national quarterfinals and semifinals.
But the Paladins began to struggle and haven’t reached the postseason for the past four seasons, going 6-5, 7-5, 6-5 and 5-6, the losing season Lamb’s only one.
Feeling the heat of that lack of postseason action, Lamb met with first-year president Rod Smolla on the day before Furman was to play Georgia Southern in the regular-season finale, and resigned after that meeting, effective following the game.
On the same day, Mercer officials told the crowd jammed into the Bear Rock Café that they planned to have a coach in place by the spring.
Neither knew how important the day would be to both.
Lamb, owner of a 67-40 record, was reportedly contacted in December about the job. One source then said in the middle of the month that it appeared that school had found a coach whose name would be somewhat recognizable. The school and Lamb reportedly came to terms within the past two weeks days.
He was also somewhat interested in the Kennesaw State position, but KSU isn’t starting until 2014. He also inquired about the opening at Gardner-Webb.
Charlotte is also beginning football, and Coastal Carolina and Campbell are less than a decade old, as is Old Dominion.
“It’s growing like crazy,” Lamb said, noting the number of young programs. “It’s unbelievable what people are doing.”
Lamb to be Mercer’s new football coach
By MICHAEL A. LOUGH, The Macon Telegraph (GA)