A Tree Grows in Charleston: The Coaching Bloodline of Citadel Football

Coaching Tree

Almost every family has sat down to discuss their lineage.  Some even have it charted out in what is commonly known as a ‘family tree’. The structure generally shapes itself into a ‘tree’ which maps out the years, decades and even centuries of the bloodline of one’s ancestors.

Listen to just one football game on television and you’ve most likely heard the commonly used sports version called the ‘coaching tree’. With a similar structure to the family tree, the coaching tree maps out a coach’s (or school’s) relationship to one another.

But what do some household sports names such as Al Davis, who spent 29 years as the principle owner of the Oakland Raiders, or Bobby Ross, who led Georgia Tech to a share of the 1990 national championship with an 11-0-1 record before guiding the San Diego Chargers to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1994, have in common?

What about Frank Beamer, who enters his 26th season at the helm of Virginia Tech’s football team as the winningest active coach (and longest tenured coach) in the FBS, or Ralph Friedgen, who led a struggling Maryland Terps football squad to six winning seasons in his 10-year tenure?

One might have to do some digging to find the common bond between these greats, but when they do they will find one place: The Citadel.

That’s right. The Military College of the South, whose enrollment has never exceeded much past 2,000 cadets since its inception back in 1842, has been churning out football coaches for decades, building one of the most decorated college coaching trees in the game.

Citadel Football Huddle

Over the next few months I will be highlighting a number of these coaches as they share with me their experiences gained while working at The Citadel, the challenges they faced and how “El Cid” helped shape the successful careers that arose from their time inside these historic walls.

The weekly series of posts will kickoff next week as I share a one-on-one interview with Coach Bobby Ross, who led the Bulldogs from 1973-77.

For today, I will leave you with an extensive list of some of the best ‘branches’ on The Citadel’s coaching tree who are still actively coaching today.  If there is a coach that is unlisted on here that you feel should be or if you have any information on a former coach that you think would be a good fit for this series of posts,  please reach out to me via email at bgargone@citadel.edu with some information and I would be happy to help the tree grow!

– Brian Gargone –
Assistant Media Relations Director

The Citadel’s Current Coaching’ Tree
* Denotes Citadel Alum

Name – Current Position – Current Team
Frank Beamer –  Head Coach – Virginia Tech
Jim Bridge – Offensive Line – Purdue
Shane Burnham – Defensive Tackles – Iowa State
*Kenny Carter – Running Backs/Special Teams – Louisville
David Cecchini – Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator – Lehigh
Isaac Collins – Head Coach – Seton Hill (PA)
Josh Conklin – Defensive Coordinator – Florida International
Sean Cronin – Defensive Ends – Marshall
*Jeff Farrington – Head Coach – North Greenville
Bob Fello – Defensive Coordinator – Hardin Simmons University (TX)
*Frank Gansz Jr. – Special Teams – Southern Methodist
Paul Hamilton – Head Coach – Brevard College
*Raleigh Jackson – Linebackers  – Arkansas Tech
*Ellis Johnson – Defensive Coordinator – Auburn
*Keith Jones – Secondary – Navy
Tommy Laurendine – Head Coach – Sewanee
Jimmye Laycock – Head Coach – William & Mary
Daniel Lewis – Running Backs – South Carolina State
Steven Loney – Assistant Offensive Line – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
*Marty Long – Defensive Line – Northwestern
*Stump Mitchell – Running Backs – Arizona Cardinals
*Omar Nesbit – Offensive Line – Chowan
Wes Nurse – Cornerbacks – North Dakota
Mike O’Cain – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks – James Madison
Jim Popp – General Manager – Montreal Alouettes
*Everette Sands –  Running Backs – South Carolina
Al Seamonson – Outside Linebackers – Illinois
Steve Shankweiler – Offensive Line – Florida International
George Sehl – Head Coach – West Virginia Wesleyan
Willie Simmons – Offensive Coordinator – Alcorn State
Danny Smith – Special Teams Coordinator – Pittsburgh Steelers
*David Sollazzo – Defensive Line – Massachusetts
Charlie Taaffe – Offensive Coordinator – Central Florida
*Lance Thompson – Outside Linebackers – Alabama
Nick Toth – Defensive Coordinator – Fresno State
Mark Tucker – Quarterbacks – Charleston Southern
*Cam Turner – Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers – Florida International
Joe Whitt, Jr. – Cornerbacks – Green Bay Packers


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