The year 2017 will mark the start of a new era in Georgia State football. A new stadium, new uniform athletic sponsorship and a new head coach. The Panthers introduced Shawn Elliott as the leader of the football program on Dec. 9.
“Wow,” Elliott said during his introductory press conference. “What a day. First off I want to say how excited I am to be here, representing the Georgia State football program.”
Elliott served as the interim head coach for the University of South Carolina in 2015 after the coach with the 47th most wins in college football history, Steve Spurrier stepped down in the middle of the year. Spurrier was named the NFCAA Contributions Award recipient on Dec. 8 at the College Football Awards in Atlanta and he reacted to Elliott’s hiring after the awards show.
“He did a great job,” Spurrier said of Elliott. “Really happy for him. Really happy that Shawn’s the new coach at Georgia State.”
While Elliott has garnered the public support from other former South Carolina Gamecocks like Connor Shaw and Patrick DiMarco, some fans criticized the move from athletic director Charlie Cobb, claiming the hire was largely based off of Cobb and Elliott’s relationship at Appalachian State. Cobb spent nine years at Appalachian State, five with Elliott, and both were on the team’s staff during the three consecutive national championship run from 2005-2007.
“If you want to do this job, you have to deal with criticism,” Cobb said. “Many time it’s (criticism) uninformed…I value my position with this university, I value my own career that I’ll find the most qualified person I can find to fill any number amount of roles in our department.”
Cornerback and rising senior Chandon Sullivan was one of the many current Panther football players in attendance, speaking face-to-face with Elliott for one of the first times.
“I like him so far, he seems like he’s a very energetic guy and he’s very positive, so I’m anxious to see how he is on the football field. I’m just ready to get back to work,” Sullivan said.
During the conference, Elliott emphasized the importance of building relationships with Georgia high school coaches as a recruiting technique and said he that will hire the coaching staff that will be the most qualified for each position.