Former Charlotte football head coach Brad Lambert was fired on Nov. 18. The 49ers’ Athletic Director Mike Hill said, “It is a decision I made after an opportunity to assess my first football season here…it’s about the trajectory of the program and putting us in the best position for the future. We elected to make this decision now so that we could begin the search immediately.”
Lambert has been in the program for six years and he is the only coach the University has known. Throughout his six years, Lambert’s record was 21-48 and his job had been at stake since 2017 when Charlotte had a 1-11 record. However, Lambert was given another chance by Judy Rose, the former Athletic Director. In hopes of remaining coach, he named a new team captain, hired new coordinators, and changed meeting and practice schedules to improve the statistics for 2018. Even though his record has improved this year, 5-7, it wasn’t enough for him to keep his job.
After being let go, Lambert thanked the University stating, “I would also like to thank our staff and student athletes who poured themselves into this program for us…I could not be prouder of all the young men and all that they have accomplished on and off the field.” He was let go with a buy out of about $515,000, which is almost twice his salary of $256,795.
Hill has only been in the Charlotte system since March 2018. Part of me believes that Lambert was let go too early. If he was able to make such a great and progressive shift in statistics from 2017 to 2018, maybe Hill should have let Lambert keep his job for another year or so for a true evaluation on his impact on the football team. On the other hand, Charlotte was not the only school to let go of their football coach in 2018. UNC Chapel Hill let go of their coach, Larry Fedora, in late November and East Carolina University let go of their coach, Ruffin McNeill, in early December. Keeping in mind that our football team is relatively new, when we look to the trends of other teams that have been around for a lot longer that have been hiring and firing football coaches, it’s because it strengthens their name through successful records while also selling their brand. I must say that I know this only as a student at UNC Charlotte, but that’s the motive for almost all competitive fields: to obtain recognition.
Philip Dubois, the UNC Charlotte chancellor, read in his statement, “Mike has a deep background in a highly successful athletic program from a ‘Power Five’ conference, so he has played lead roles in hiring and working with highly successful head coaches, negotiating multi-million-dollar media agreements and facilities naming rights, and being on point in external relations for the Gators.”
Early December, Hill hired Will Healy as the new head coach for our football team. His hiring grade was an A according to SB Nation, stating that, “…he had a winning season at Austin Peay. That’s basically impossible.” Although I think Lambert was worthy of being given another season, it looks like this is the right decision for our school; it seems to be a new turning point for Charlotte’s history in football. Our new Athletic Director has found a head coach with a promising future for the 49ers and we are all certain to be satisfied with the 2019 football season and hopefully the seasons thereafter.