Charlotte starts over after firing Healy following 1-7 start

Offensive line coach Pete Rossomando will serve as the 49ers’ interim coach

Charlotte fired football coach Will Healy after the 49ers started his fourth season with a 1-7 record. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — Just one day after the Charlotte 49ers suffered a 19-point homecoming loss to Florida International and fell out of bowl contention for the season, fourth-year coach Will Healy was fired by the school.

Charlotte athletic director Mike Hill announced Sunday afternoon that the program decided to part ways with Healy after the Niners’ 1-7 start to the season. Offensive line coach Pete Rossomando was named interim head coach for the rest of the 2022 campaign.

Healy, one of the youngest head coaches in college football at 37, finished with a 15-24 record in four seasons at Charlotte.

“We are grateful to Will Healy for the incredible energy and enthusiasm he brought to our program,” Hill said in a press release. “He made an impact here that will never be forgotten. Sadly, however, our on-field results have not met expectations. Will and his family are special people and we wish them the best.”

Healy’s tenure with Charlotte started on the right foot in 2019 when he led the program to its first winning season and bowl appearance, finishing 7-6 after a loss in the Bahamas Bowl.

But since Healy’s first season in Charlotte, the 49ers have won just eight of 26 games. Just two of the team’s 14 losses the past three seasons were one-score defeats.

Charlotte opened the 2021 season with the program’s first win over a Power Five school when it defeated Duke 31-28. The Niners started the season with a 4-2 record but only managed to win one more game the rest of the year.

“I want to thank Mike Hill, Chancellor (Phil) Dubois and Chancellor (Sharon) Gaber for giving me the opportunity and support at this special place,” Healy said in a press release.

“We were fortunate to have some special moments. I was able to work with some outstanding coaches and staff members and coach an incredible group of young men. I want to thank the students, boosters and fan base for the support they’ve shown over the years and I apologize for not being able to bring the results that we were striving for. I’m really proud of the young men in our locker room. I’m a 49ers fan for life and I know the future of this university is bright.”

Before his dismissal, Healy had been under contract through 2026 after originally signing a deal worth $700,000 annually. Charlotte owes Healy about $1.65 million.

Rossomando — the 2012 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year with the University of New Haven — will guide the Niners against their four remaining opponents: Rice, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State University and Louisiana Tech.

Charlotte will immediately begin a national coaching search for Healy’s replacement while also preparing to make a move to the American Athletic Conference in 2023.

Chris Reynolds and Victor Tucker, the 49ers’ all-time leading quarterback and wide receiver, are in their final year of eligibility, leaving a hole in the offense for the new coach. Wide receivers Elijah Spencer and Grant DuBose, who are tops on Charlotte in receptions and receiving yards, could both return next season.

Backup quarterbacks Xavier Williams, James Foster and Trexler Ivey are all options to replace Reynolds at quarterback, while Shadrick Byrd and ChaVon McEachern could also be back as the Niners’ one-two punch at running back.

The most pressing issue for Charlotte’s next coach will be to rebuild a defensive unit that ranks last nationally (131st) in yardage allowed, giving up 280.3 passing yards and 243.3 rushing yards per game.