Last week, we announced plans to highlight the top non-FBS head coaching destinations, starting with the NAIA level. We spent a considerable amount of time fielding a bunch of input from coaches and passionate folks stating their case for their respective program and today we are ready to begin to dig into the top 5.
Coming in at #4 is…
After reaching out to a handful of experienced NAIA coaches, it was clear from their feedback that Reinhardt University (GA) belongs on this list.
After originally dropping football back in 1920, the school decided to bring football back to their small Waleska, GA campus in 2012, and they saw almost immediate results on the field going 6-4 their first two seasons competing. 2015 saw a jump to 9-2 before a breakout 2016 season where they went 13-1, and in 2017 they had the same record before losing in the national title game.
Reinhardt’s potential, one of the many factors we considered in making this list, is off the charts. In 2015, just three years after starting their football program, Reinhardt made their first appearance in the NAIA playoffs and in 2017 they made it to that 2017 national title game before losing a close game to St. Francis (IN).
That rapid rise is due to a number of things, but being one of only two NAIA programs in the entire talent-rich state of Georgia has certainly helped. They’re able to offer the athletic scholarship experience and keep talented kids from leaving the Peach State. In fact, looking at their 2019 roster, there are only 8 kids out of over 120 from outside the state of Georgia. Many of their in-state talent are coming from the tops high school programs in Georgia.
Facilities wise, being at the start of their new football history, everything is shiny and new and the campus has a historic charm to it.
Entering his fourth season, the program is led by James Miller whose leadership has really propelled Reinhardt into the conversation as one of the top programs in the country.
A new program who has set the bar for startup NAIA programs almost impossibly high, Reinhard still has a lot of room to grow. They’ve certainly proven that they’re worthy of national title game consideration, and definitely belong among the top five jobs of the NAIA level.