Looking to reverse a long history of losing, Tulane picked a new football coach with a strong track record of winning Friday.

Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz will succeed Curtis Johnson as the Green Wave’s fourth coach since the undefeated season of 1998 under Tommy Bowden. After The Advocate first reported the decision and Georgia Southern confirmed Fritz was leaving later Friday afternoon, new Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen tweeted out confirmation Friday night.

Fritz, 55, has led Georgia Southern to nine victories in each of the past two years after having tremendous success at college football’s lower levels, including Sam Houston State of the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II Central Missouri and Blinn Junior College.

Dannen indicated a preference for an experienced, sitting head coach at his introductory news conference Dec. 4. A week later, he found someone who fit his criteria to a T.

Fritz guided Georgia Southern to the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2014 — the school’s first year in the FBS — with a 9-3 overall record and an 8-0 mark in the league. He backed it up with another 9-3 record this season, including an overtime loss at Georgia. The Eagles finished third in the Sun Belt at 6-2 and are headed to the GoDaddy Bowl against Bowling Green on Dec. 23 in Mobile, Alabama.

Fritz coached at Sam Houston State from 2010-13, leading the Bearkats to runner-up finishes in the FCS playoffs in 2011 and 2012 while compiling a record of 40-15. He coached at Central Missouri from 1997 to 2009, going 97-47 in 13 years, and won two junior-college national championships at Blinn from 1993-96.

Fritz’s teams have been run-heavy, but sources told The Advocate that Fritz told Dannen he would not use the triple option he employed at Georgia Southern when he gets to Tulane. Georgia Southern averages a nation’s-best 355.6 rushing yards this year but is last among 127 FBS teams in passing, averaging 61.8 yards and fewer than five completions per game.

At Sam Houston State, Fritz’s offense featured more of a zone-read look, mixing in more passes with a dominant running game while posting the two highest scoring totals in school history in 2011 and 2012. The Bearkats threw for 26 scores in 2012 and 33 in 2013, ranking among the top 10 in that category in the FCS, although they never finished higher than 76th nationally in passing yards during his tenure.

Dannen also interviewed former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, among others, sources told The Advocate. Hoke also is pursuing East Carolina’s opening.

Fritz’s task is to turn around a program that has finished below .500 in 11 of the past 13 years, had only five winning records in the past 34 years and won eight games or more only five times since leaving the Southeastern Conference in 1966.

In particular, Tulane has struggled since Bowden left for Clemson in 1998 and the Wave elected not to hire offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez as his replacement. Chris Scelfo (37-57 record), Bob Toledo (15-40) and Johnson (15-34) combined for four or fewer wins in 11 of their 16 seasons.

Fritz’s last losing year was at Central Missouri in 2006, when he went 5-6. His career winning percentage is .690.

With the dead period for recruiting starting Monday and lasting through Jan. 13, Fritz will have a couple of days to talk to Tulane’s commitments. Three-star linebacker Giovanni LaFrance of St. Augustine, one of the highest-rated members of the class, decommitted Friday.

LaFrance’s primary recruiter — David Johnson, a former St. Augustine head coach and Tulane’s running backs coach under Curtis Johnson — left to become an assistant at Memphis earlier this week.

It’s unclear whether Fritz will retain some of Johnson’s other assistants. When he went to Georgia Southern, he brought offensive coordinator Doug Ruse with him from Sam Houston State but retained the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Jack Curtis.

Fritz coached at Sam Houston State at the same time as Tulane baseball coach David Pierce in 2012 and 2013. Pierce ended a six-year NCAA regional drought this past spring in his first season with the Green Wave.

Update, 2:18 p.m.

Georgia Southern confirms Willie Fritz has accepted the Tulane head coaching job.

Original story

Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz will be Tulane’s new football coach, multiple sources confirmed to The Advocate.

Fritz, 55, has been the coach at Georgia Southern for the past two years after having tremendous success at college football’s lower levels, including Sam Houston State of the FCS, Division II Central Missouri and Blinn Junior College.

New Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen indicated a preference for an experienced, sitting head coach at his introductory press conference on Dec. 4. A week later, he found someone who fit his criteria to a T.

Fritz guided Georgia Southern to the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2014—the school’s first year in the FBS—with a 9-3 overall record and 8-0 mark in the league. He backed it up with another 9-3 record this season, including an overtime loss at Georgia. The Eagles finished third in the Sun Belt at 6-2.

He coached at Sam Houston State from 2010-13, leading the Bearkats to runner-up finishes in the FCS playoffs in 2011 and 2012 while compiling a record of 40-15.

He coached at Central Missouri from 1997-2009, going 97-47 in 13 years.

Fritz’ teams have been run heavy, but sources said he told Dannen he would not use the triple option he employed at Georgia Southern when he arrived at Tulane. Georgia Southern averages a nation’s best 355.6 rushing yards this year but is last among 127 FBS teams in passing, averaging 61.8 yards and fewer than five completions per game.

At Sam Houston State, Fritz’ offense was more of zone read look, mixing in more passes. The Bearkats threw for 26 scores in 2012 but never ranked higher than 76th nationally in passing in his tenure there, relying on a dominant running game.

Fritz coached at Sam Houston State at the same time as Tulane baseball coach David Pierce in 2012 and 2013. Pierce ended a six-year NCAA regional drought this past spring in his first season with the Green Wave.

Dannen also interviewed former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, among others, according to sources. Hoke also is pursuing the open East Carolina job.

Tulane is not expected to make an official announcement about Fritz until later Friday or Saturday.

Fritz replaces Curtis Johnson, who went 15-34 in four years. Under Dannen’s direction, Tulane will try to reverse its recent history of 11 losing seasons in the last 13 years.