Paris-Henry   County
Sports  Hall  of  Fame



The Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame
Banquet  speaker  for  2011


Racers’ Hatcher set to speak at Hall  of  Fame Banquet

Chris Hatcher has enjoyed football coaching success for more than a decade with an overall record of 94-27 including last season’s 6-5 mark at Murray State University.

Hatcher is following a long line of strong head coaches at Murray State that includes Mike Gottfried, Frank Beamer and Houston Nutt. Gottfried moved on from Murray State to coach at Kansas and Pittsburgh becoming one of the top college football television analysts in the country while working for ESPN.

Beamer left Murray State for his alma mater, Virginia Tech, where he guided the Hokies to a spot in the national championship game against Florida State in 2000, earning several national coach of the year awards.

Nutt took the Racers to unprecedented heights before leaving to restore the winning tradition at Arkansas, and now he is at Mississippi.

Hatcher’s coaching resume includes six trips to postseason, two appearances in the National Championship game and the 2004 Division II National Championship.

He will talk about success in athletics when he speaks at the Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame banquet set for 6 p.m. July 21 at the Paris Convention Center. Five new inductees, the late Ras Bilbrey, Patricia Owens Dyer, George Atkins, Edward Littleton and Roger “Beeter” VanDyke, will be enshrined into the local Hall of Fame that night. Paris businessman Jack Hays will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

Tickets for the banquet are $25 and can be purchased at the law office of William T. Looney located at 127 N. Poplar St. and at Paris Insurance Agency at 203 W. Wood St., both in Paris.

Hatcher has brought his spread offense “Hatch Attack” to MSU after a three-year stint at Georgia Southern, where he led the Eagles to an 18-15 record and a 12-11 mark in the competitive Southern Conference.

Prior to his time at GSU, Hatcher molded Valdosta State into one of the most dominant teams in Division II.

The winningest coach in Blazers’ history, Hatcher was 76-12 at his alma mater. When Hatcher took over as head coach in 2000, he wasted no time molding the Valdosta State program into the “Hatch Attack.” In his first year back at VSU, Hatcher took a 4-7 squad the previous year and turned it around to a 10-2 record (8-1 in GSC action) and a berth in the Division II playoffs. He coached quarterback Dusty Bonner who was a two-time winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year, an award Hatcher won himself in 1994.

His 2001 and 2002 teams posted back-to-back undefeated records during the regular season, part of a Gulf South Conference record 35 straight victories during the regular season.

During the 2004 championship season, the Blazers lost their season-opener before rattling off 13 consecutive victories, capped by a 36-31 victory over Pittsburg State in the title game. Hatcher was named ‘National Coach of the Year’ by the American Football Coaches Association and was the offensive coordinator for the East squad at the Hula Bowl.

The Macon (Ga.) native spent one year as quarterbacks/tight ends coach at the University of Central Florida where he worked with former NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper. He then spent three years working with the quarterbacks at the University of Kentucky where he worked under former VSU head coach Hal Mumme. During his time with the Wildcats he coached the No. 1 NFL draft pick, All-America quarterback Tim Couch.

While at UK, Hatcher and the Wildcats played in the 1999 Outback Bowl, the program’s first New Year’s Day Bowl in 47 years, then followed that the following year with a berth in the ’99 Music City Bowl. It marked the first time the Wildcats had consecutive bowl appearances in 15 years.

As a player, Hatcher was a two-time All-American quarterback at VSU (1993 and 1994), Hatcher threw for 11,363 yards and 121 touchdowns during his stellar career. During his senior year in 1994, he led the Blazers to their first postseason berth, advancing to the quarterfinals, and when it was all said and done set 29 VSU passing and total offense records.

Among the national records he once set were a 68.5 career completion percentage and streak of 20-straight completions in a game against New Haven. Hatcher held 14 Valdosta State, 13 Gulf South Conference and 17 Division II national records. He also started 41 consecutive games, posting a 29-10-2 record.

Not only did Hatcher excel on the field, he was just as successful in the classroom. Twice he received the Gulf South Conference’s Commissioner’s Trophy which is awarded to the league’s Most Outstanding Student-Athlete. He finished his senior year by winning several national honors including: the NCAA Top Eight Award, the CoSIDA Academic All-America National Player of the Year and a postgraduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.

At the time when Hatcher won the Harlon Hill Trophy, he won by the second-largest voting margin in the then-19-year history of the award. Hatcher was also voted the GSC Football team of the 1990s.

The honors continued to add up even after his playing days. Hatcher was named to the Valdosta State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, in his first year of eligibility. The personable head coach was also elected into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame the same year.

In 2005, Hatcher was inducted into the Division II Hall of Fame.

Hatcher graduated from Valdosta State in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.

He and his wife, Lori, also a graduate of VSU, are the parents of a son, Ty, and daughter, Talley.

Published: Friday, July 15, 2011


Reprinted  from  the   Paris Post-Intelligencer
Used by permission


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