Former Blinn football coaches reach prestigious ranks

 

For nearly a century, the Blinn College football program has been building upon a tradition of preparing its student-athletes for the highest levels. More recently, it's been expanding that tradition to its coaches, too.

Five former Blinn coaches—Willie Fritz, Mike Mutz, Dennis Hickey, John Pearce and Mike Nesbitt—have taken their experience gained at Blinn and applied it to the game's most prestigious levels.

Fritz, the Buccaneers' coach from 1993-96, accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Southern University, a program that is moving into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) this upcoming season.  In Fritz's three-year tenure at Blinn, he compiled a 39-5-1 record and turned the program from a five-game winner its previous three seasons into back-to-back national champions in '95 and '96. Blinn remains the only team in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) to claim consecutive national championships.

After Blinn, Fritz accepted a job at Central Missouri, a NCAA Division II program, and guided the Mules to 11 winning seasons and to their first postseason trip in more than 30 years. He then accepted the head coaching job at Sam Houston State University in 2010, where he led the Bearkats to two national championship appearances (2011 and 2012) in his four years.

In his 21-year head coaching career, Fritz is 176-67-1 (72.3 winning percentage).

Fritz invited former Blinn defensive coordinator Mike Mutz to join his staff at Georgia Southern. Mutz was a part of Fritz's staff at Sam Houston as a defensive assistant in 2013.  Mutz ran the Bucs' defense in 2012 and implemented the 4-2-5 scheme that they have run the past two seasons.

Hickey, who coached the secondary from 1994-95 under Fritz, was named the Miami Dolphins' general manager on Sunday after he spent 18 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During that time, Hickey served in roles ranging from pro personnel assistant, director of college scouting and director of player personnel.

Following Fritz and Hickey's lead is Pearce, Blinn's former defensive line coach. Pearce accepted the head coaching job at Sul Ross State University, an NCAA Division III program in Alpine, Texas. Alpine is an hour south of Fort Stockton in west Texas. Pearce joined the Bucs coaching staff in 2013 after spending nine years at Prairie View A&M University, where he spent two years as the Panthers defensive coordinator. Pearce also coached at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.; Bowie State University in Prince George County, Md.; Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.; and Northfolk (Va.) State University.

West Texas A&M named Nesbitt, Blinn's former offensive coordinator, its head coach in December. Nesbitt, a former punter for the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, spent the 2013 season as the interim head coach of the Buffaloes, where he led the team to an 11-3 season.

Nesbitt helped coach the Bucs to the 2006 national championship under head coach Brad Franchione. In his two seasons at Blinn (2005-06), the Bucs' offense ranked among the top in the nation as the team amassed a 19-3 record.