George Quarles Fired at ETSU. Now What?

Marky Billson
12 min readNov 25, 2023

A list of potential coaching candidates for ETSU, and why Quarles failed.

Marky Billson

You know you’ve done a bad job when is reporting you’ve been fired.

Because historically, the ETSU sports website hasn’t always posted the news when they’ve fired coaches, keeping with their “everything is always wonderful here” mantra.

So when it was announced George Quarles was fired as ETSU football coach less than 24 hours after the 2023 season ended, the message was that everything was wonderful because Quarles was no longer around.

Quarles was, in a nutshell, everything that is wrong with sports in east Tennessee. His hire equated high school sports with college, his “Aw Shucks” demeanor proved he was unfit for leadership, his lack of intelligence was displayed in press conferences where the ETSU Sports Information Department had to delete such quotes as “one of the worst things that can happen to your team is to have first and goal at the eight- or nine-yard line” from transcripts, he had no FCS-level experience, and his romanticism of being from east Tennessee as an important part of the job spoke of the area’s insularity.

He was hired for all the wrong reasons, and sadly, they are reasons often championed locally.

And so an 11–2 team with 14 starters returning in 2022 went 3–8 in both seasons under Quarles, only avoiding winless seasons because of the weak schedule the Buccaneers’ played.

Of Quarles six college victories, two game against Division II opponents, two came against D-1 teams that finished 0–11, another came against a 1–10 D-1 team and the final one came against a team that finished 2–9.

There’s also room to theorize Quarles was such an incompetent he put his players’ health in jeopardy.

For instance, allowing Luke Smith to miss a practice to attend class, and then shifting his position on the offensive line. Is the slew of quarterbacks who went down to injury, necessitating the play of walk-ons at the position, really coincidence?

Needless to say, whoever ETSU hires to replace Quarles will be faced with a major rebuilding job.