Tulane’s coaching staff won’t look entirely different next year, but the shakeup will be significant.
Secondary coach Jason Rollins and assistant director of football operations Byron Ellis will be the only holdovers from Curtis Johnson’s staff to remain on newly-named coach Willie Fritz’s staff.
Tulane spokesman Roger Dunaway confirmed the moves to The Advocate on Tuesday morning. The Green Wave has not announced the rest of its staff, and likely won’t until after Georgia Southern completes its bowl game on Dec. 23.
Fritz led Georgia Southern to the GoDaddy.com Bowl with an 8-4 regular season record, but isn’t with GSU in the postseason. However, the remainder of the Eagles staff, including interim coach Dell McGee, will be coaching against Bowling Green in Mobile, Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Green Wave at least have piece of the coaching staff firmly in place with Rollins. It’s the third head coach Rollins will work under since joining Bob Toledo’s staff at Tulane in 2008 and retaining his position upon Johnson’s hiring in 2012.
Rollins rose up the ranks from a cornerbacks coach, to secondary coach and was the co-defensive coordinator alongside Lionel Washington in 2015. Along the way he helped cornerbacks Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon become Tulane’s first defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft in more than a decade, and coached Parry Nickerson during his Freshman All American season in 2014.
He’s also been one of Tulane’s most influential recruiters, combing the state for prospects. Rollins is at least partially responsible for recruiting more than half of the Green Wave’s current roster and seven of its 2016 commitments.
Over the past month, since news of Johnson’s termination was made public, Rollins has remained at Tulane, working to maintain both the roster and the upcoming signing class. Over his eight-year tenure with the Green Wave, Rollins turned down at least two job offers from Power 5 football programs and openly expressed his desire to stay in New Orleans and stick with Tulane.
Under Rollins’ watch, Tulane led Conference USA in passing yardage allowed four times in six seasons and ranked in the Top 30 nationally during three different seasons between 2008 and 2013.
“There aren’t many coaches like Rollins in the country,” former Tulane safety and two-time leading tackler Sam Scofield said. “He’s a phenomenal recruiter and defensive play-caller, but an even better person. During my time at Tulane I learned so much under him.
“Every player, offense and defense, loves coach Rollins and I know the current players are thrilled he is staying at Tulane. Defensively, he’s the smartest coach I’ve ever played for. He could coach for any school in the country and it won’t surprise me when he becomes a head coach some day. I’m so happy he’s staying.”