Mack leaving NC Central to take coordinator position at Rice

Mack, who went 31-15 in four seasons with the Eagles, will be replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Granville Eastman

NC Central coach Jerry Mack talks with tight end Josh McCoy during the Eagles' season-opening game at Duke. Mack is leaving the Eagles to become the offensive coordinator at Rice (Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY Sports)

Jerry Mack, whose teams won or shared three MEAC championships in his four seasons at NC Central, has left his job with the Eagles to become the offensive coordinator at Rice.

The 37-year-old Tennessee native will join the staff of newly named Owls coach Mike Bloomgren, with whom he worked when the two were together at Delta State in 2005.

Mack announced the move Friday in an open letter to his now-former team’s fans.

“It has been one heck of a ride these last four years,” Mack wrote. “The way the NCCU community has embraced my family and I is extraordinary. On behalf of the Mack family, I say ‘Thank You’ to everyone that touched our lives during our time in Durham.

“… We have all built something special, and I have the utmost confidence you will not let this great program settle for anything less than greatness.”

Mack compiled a 31-15 record at Central, his first head coaching assignment. It was a tenure marked with numerous firsts and milestones.

In his first season, 2014, he led the Eagles to their most wins since moving to Division I FCS status by going 7-5. Among the victories was an upset of rival NC A&T that marked the program’s first win against a ranked opponent and earned a share of the MEAC title.

Mack followed that up with an eight-win season that included a No. 18 national ranking in 2015 and a nine-win campaign in 2016 in which Central went 8-0 in conference play to earn a bid to the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. Mack was named MEAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson as FCS Coach of the Year for his efforts. This year’s team finished 7-4, 5-3 in the conference.

Mack leaves the Eagles with the blessing of school officials.

“North Carolina Central University is excited about Coach Jerry Mack’s new appointment and salute his contributions to our student-athletes and athletics program,” NCCU chancellor Dr. Johnson Akinleye said in a statement. “Over the past four years, our football program has experienced tremendous success, including capturing three championships under the leadership of Coach Mack.

“He and his staff’s dedication to our student-athletes and this university has built a nationally ranked program that has garnered increased exposure for NCCU throughout North Carolina and around the country.”

Mack will be replaced on an interim basis by his defensive coordinator Granville Eastman, who will lead the team for the 2018 season.

Eastman, who has 24 years of college coaching experience, came to Central with Mack in 2014 and has been responsible for a unit that has been ranked among the FCS leaders in tackles for loss, fumble recoveries, red zone defense and third down conversion percentage. He also has coaching experience at Austin Peay, Tiffin and York College in his native Canada.

“Granville Eastman is an accomplished coach who has been part of our championship-winning coaching staff,” Akinleye said. “We are thrilled he accepted our offer to serve in this new role and look forward to the continuity his leadership will bring.”