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Chris Hatcher Trying to Soar in Statesboro

STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) _ Chris Hatcher faces quite a challenge in
restoring a prestigious but now slumping Georgia Southern football
program back into prominence.
After all, it's not like he hasn't done it before. Hatcher took
a struggling Division Two Valdosta State team during his seven
seasons as coach and led them to the 2004 national championship.
He said -- quote -- ``I've been in this situation. There hasn't
been any surprises.''
Except for time. Soon after the previous coach stepped down for
another job, Hatcher was brought on as Georgia Southern's head
coach in mid-January.
When Hatcher was introduced, he said he planned to add more
playoff and championship banners early. With not having much time
to recruit, build a strong rapport with players and losing over
four scholarships has made him more patient rather than seeing
quick results.
Hatcher said -- quote -- ``When we finally got to know each
other, the summer came around. I'm about two months behind the
eight ball here compared to Valdosta. I can't get them until August
to work with them more.''
The Eagles fired Mike Sewak after a stunning collapse in the
opening round of the N-C-A-A Division One-Double-A playoffs two
years ago. Sewak was shortly replaced by Brian VanGorder, who left
after one season and took an assistant coaching job with the
Atlanta Falcons.
Clearly, expectations are high _ especially with the Eagles
coming off a woeful 3-and-8 season, their worst record since
resuming football in 1982.
Now Hatcher has to live up to the hype, while making players
believe in his pass-oriented offense, a style that's not too
popular at a school where the triple-option helped them win six
national championships.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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