WALESKA, Ga. – Reinhardt University head football coach Dr. Danny Cronic has decided to step down from his position after nearly four years as coach of the program. Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Drew Cronic will take over as the new head coach of the program.
Dr. Cronic cited health concerns as one of the primary reasons why he is stepping down at this time. “I had an infusion of immunoglobulin earlier this week,” Dr. Cronic said. “It seems like every time I would get a sinus infection, it would turn into bronchitis. I just have gotten weary from fighting it and it’s really tough for me to have the presence I need to have as a head coach when I’m sick.”
The original timetable for Drew Cronic to take over the program slated for RU’s offensive coordinator to take over after the 2015 season. When the decision was made for Dr. Cronic to step down, both of them felt in necessary for the senior Cronic to remain in place until spring practice was over.
“I really wanted Drew to be able to concentrate on the offense,” Dr. Cronic stated. “Offense has really been our hallmark since we started the program. Having Drew be able to concentrate on that during the spring was important.”
“The fact is if [Dr. Cronic] had left before the spring, I would have been short-handed offensively on my coaching staff,” saidDrew Cronic. “Now, we’ll be able to reassign some people and redefine some roles. It was a big, big help.”
Reinhardt’s players were told of the decision in a team meeting Thursday afternoon. “There is some sadness from the players, but I also hope there’s some excitement,” Dr. Cronic said. “We wanted the players to know what was happening and have time to adjust by the time fall came back around. Hopefully, this will be as seamless of a transition as possible.”
“I think after our winning a championship our first year, players got a bit complacent,” Drew Cronic said, echoing earlier sentiments of Dr. Cronic. “Our second year was a bit tougher, even though we had the same record. I think with the talent we’ve got coming in, our third year could be the year we really get over the hump and reach some of our goals like making the playoffs.”
After compiling a record as a high school head coach of 223-113, Danny Cronic was named as the head coach of Reinhardt’s start-up program on May 19, 2011. Just over two years later, Dr. Cronic led the Eagles to the Mid-South Conference West Division Championship in the program’s first year of competition. That first year, the Eagles went 6-4, with Dr. Cronic earning MSC-West Coach of the Year honors. Reinhardt reached a national ranking as high as No. 19 during the inaugural year, with L.J. Stegall earning MSC-West Offensive Freshman of the Year honors.
“I was really surprised the Lord put it on me at that point to be a collegiate head coach, but maybe it was because I was finally mature enough in my life to take on that responsibility,” Dr. Cronic said.
“Danny Cronic has been tremendous for us since he became the first coach of our football program,” RU athletic director Bill Popp said. “He was the perfect person for us at the perfect time. The contributions that he made to our athletic department and our university really can’t be measured. His enthusiasm, competitive spirit, and, most importantly, love for his student-athletes is how he will be best remembered. Our coaching staff, administration and RU community will miss him, but we all extend our best wishes as he moves into this phase in his life.”
“I hope people can understand what a tremendous job [Dr. Cronic] has done of building this program in such a short amount of time,”Drew Cronic said. “To be able to take a program that had never played a game before and win 12 games in two years with the quality and high-character student-athletes that he’s had is impressive.”
“Bill Popp has been outstanding to work for,” said Dr. Cronic. “Our administration has been outstanding as well. [Vice-President for Student Affairs] Dr. [Roger] Lee has been wonderful. [RU President] Dr. [Thomas] Isherwood has been outstanding. All of their people have been great to work with and work for.”
During Dr. Cronic’s time with Reinhardt, the Eagles have been honored 30 times with Mid-South Conference All-Academic awards. In 2014, the first year players on the team were eligible, Reinhardt had 11 student-athletes earn NAIA Scholar-Athlete status. “We brought in a lot of good students,” Dr. Cronic said, “but playing college football is hard. You’ve got to go to class, you’ve got to study, you’ve got to lift weights, and you’ve got to go out and play the game. As coaches, we have to take chances sometimes on players, but the joy in coaching is from the good, sound character fundamentals that are in our players.”
Dr. Cronic is proudest of the way his team competed and finished strong, perhaps in a way that was crystalized most in the final game of the first year of the program at Campbellsville, a 66-48 win that gave the Eagles a winning record in their first season. “It was just the way we competed and continued to compete. It’s really not that one game, but the vision of that one game,” Dr. Cronic said. “Talent is required, but once you have talent, you still have to have the character and desire more than just the talent.”
The bond between the father and son combination on Reinhardt’s coaching staff makes the desire for the success of the RU football program even greater. “I have to be reserved a bit because he’s my son,” Dr. Cronic said, “but Drew will do well. He is a strong person and I trust him. He’s very talented. There will be bumps in the road, and mistakes will be made along the way, regardless of who is in charge. But Drew will do well. My joy in what comes of it is going to be enhanced because of our relationship.”
“When you’re working together with someone and you’re as close with them, you want to see the other person be successful, so there’s added pressure,” said Drew Cronic. “I worked as hard as I could because I wanted to see [Dr. Cronic’s] program be successful for him, and I’m sure he felt the same way for me.”
While the perspective will be a bit different as the person in the head coaching chair, Drew Cronic will still call the plays on Saturdays for RU’s offense. However, Drew Cronic plans on dishing off some of the responsibilities along the way and leaning on others for support. “James Miller has done a phenomenal job with our offensive line, so there will be more responsibility put on him,” Drew Cronic said. “Will Heath has been a mainstay here. We have a lot of things in place. Our offensive will look the same. I’ll continue to be the person running that. But with the other responsibilities I have, I’ll be having to delegate more things off.”
One of those people Drew Cronic may delegate things off to is Dr. Cronic. “He’s still going to be around during our summer camps. I may let him take some of my recruiting stops along the way,” Drew Cronic said.
“I’m going to help recruit. I’m going to see if I can keep my Hudl account up and going to see what’s going on. I’ll still be around watching in the fall, unless my wife and I get the opportunity to go on some trips,” Dr. Cronic said. “The hardest part of this job has been being away from my wife. It has really made it more difficult. Hopefully now, I can start sleeping better at night.”
Reinhardt’s 2015 season is scheduled to kick off, with Drew Cronic as head coach, Aug. 29 at Point University in Valley, Ala.