Randy Smith: Will Healy Raises The Bar

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Apparently the FCS Playoff selection committee wasn't that impressed with what the 2017 Austin Peay football did this season. After going 0-11 in 2016, the Governors improved to 7-4 this season, with a 7-1 mark against other FCS teams. Their only FCS loss came against OVC Champion Jacksonville State; a team that is seeded third in the FCS playoffs. Their other three losses came to FBS teams, Cincinnati, Miami of Ohio, and unbeaten and nationally ranked Central Florida. Everyone, including Govs' Coach Will Healy was so sure they would be in the playoffs, when the announcement came on Sunday morning, folks were more shocked than anything else.

In a live telephone interview on ESPN Coach Healy stated the obvious disappointment he and his team felt, but he also took the high road as he talked about what his team next year would need to do to not be looking outside while other FCS teams extended their seasons. It appears the playoff committee penalized Austin Peay for playing three different FBS teams. Their FCS record of 7-1 wasn't good enough to get them in the post season. Maybe the Govs should have beaten Central Florida. Maybe that win would have solidified a spot in the post season.

With 24 teams making the FCS Playoffs, there has to be some political positioning involved. Why else would the Southern Conference get three teams in while the OVC gets just one automatic bid? Welcome to the world of Division I college football.

The Austin Peay Governors picked up a rather large contingent of fans in East Tennessee because of Coach Will Healy. The former Boyd-Buchanan standout and former Richmond Spider who also spent several years on Russ Huesman's staff at UTC is a popular figure here as well as in Clarksville, Tennessee. At 32 years old, Healy is one of the youngest head coaches in the country. He has also been listed as one of the "hottest" young coaches in the country as well; hot meaning he will be in great demand as other teams search for head coaches. I really can't see Will Healy leaving Austin Peay right now, unless a really super offer comes along.

Will Healy is a first-class person as well as a great football coach. Playing for Robert Akins at Boyd-Buchanan helped to solidify the type person he is, but he also has a strong family support system. I know his parents as well as his in-laws and they are also top quality people. Will Healy will do the right thing and will make the right choices. He will continue to take the high road and he will do whatever it takes to get his Governors in the FCS playoffs next season. In the meantime, he will spend time with his wife and son and will actually be home at night for a while. Keep the faith Young Will. The high road is always the right road.
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Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.


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