Marky Billson
9 min readSep 21, 2023

In 14 games under their new coach ETSU has gone from the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs to 4–10, culminating with the worst loss in program history last week.

Marky Billson

Every few minutes since late Saturday night I have checked the internet.

Twitter. Message boards. www.wjhl.com.

I don’t check the Johnson City Press because it’s established as the last place to go for breaking news concerning the ETSU Buccaneers and the first place to learn about the Bucs’ beat writer’s dog.

I did so because I keep expecting to see the following announcement:

“ETSU has announced they have fired head football coach George Quarles. Defensive coordinator Billy Taylor named interim head coach.”

Why wouldn’t the Buccaneers make the switch? Under Quarles the Bucs have gone, in just 14 games, from a school record 11 victories and playing in the FCS quarterfinals to losing every game against D-1 opposition of even pedestrian talent, culminating in the worst loss in program history, a 63–3 setback at Austin Peay.

The Buccaneers still retain a fair amount of talent from their 11–2 team of 2021, including quarterback Tyler Riddell, receiver Will Huzzie, and linebacker Stephen Scott.

And yet half of Quarles’ victories at ETSU have come against competition playing lower than Division I, and none of his Division I victories have come against a team that finished better than 1–10.

There is legitimate discussion as to if this year’s team better than the Buccaneers’ team of teenagers in 2015, when head coach Carl Torbush refused to recruit junior college players. Torbush opted to restart the Buccaneers’ football program with a team comprised of players straight out of high school, who then found themselves physically overmatched by their competition and finished 2–9 with a couple of victories against non-D-I weak sisters.

True, when a program falls this far this fast with much of the same personnel, there probably isn’t a sole scapegoat for the demise. Unless the coach is a complete nincompoop, administrative decisions often hamper a program as much if not more than poor coaching.