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