Thank You Coach Carthel

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

Head Football Coach Colby Carthel led the Lions to a 58-18 record including a National Championship in his six seasons at A&M-Commerce | MK Photography

By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

On December 2, 2018, Texas A&M University-Commerce Athletics announced that after six seasons at the university, head football coach Colby Carthel is departing for Stephen F. Austin State University to become the programs 20th head coach.

Carthel takes over a Stephen F. Austin football program that is coming off four-straight losing seasons. 2014 was the last season the Lumberjacks qualified for the Divison I FCS playoffs.

Flashback to Commerce, TX in 2013. The A&M-Commerce football program was experiencing some of its darkest days. Two straight 1-9 seasons for the Lions meant something had to change for the blue and gold. At the time, little did then-Athletic Director Ryan Ivey know that he had just hit the jackpot with Colby Carthel. Ivey is currently the Athletic Director for Stephen F. Austin.

Carthel left West Texas A&M and was hired as the 19th head coach in A&M-Commerce program history. With the new hire, Carthel saw many players leave the university due to the changing of coaches. With only 35 players on the roster, Carthel quickly implemented a new culture that sought out division one and junior college transfers to rebuild the program.

In Carthel’s first season with the Lions he took no time to get A&M-Commerce back to its winning ways. In 2013 the Lions finished fifth in the Lone Star Conference and went 7-5 with a postseason invitation to the LiveUnited Texarkana Bowl.

In 2014 the Lions improved even more finishing the season 9-3 including a 72-21 victory in the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl over East Central University. In 2014 the Lions led the nation in scoring, nearly averaging 54 points a game. The 2014 campaign also saw a record setting performance in which the Lions defeated East Texas Baptist 98-20. The Lions made national television as ESPN’s SportsCenter reported the news that same night. Carthel had led the Lions to their first Lone Star Conference Championship since 1990.

In 2015, Carthel led the Lions to their first NCAA Divison II playoff berth since 1995 as A&M-Commerce finished the season 8-4 and won the Lone Star Conference Championship for the second straight season. Harrison Stewart and the Lion offense led the conference in passing offense and total offense. The Lions fell to Ferris State in the first round of the playoffs.

The 2016 season rolled around and Carthel had himself a new contract. The Lions rewarded their head coach with a contract extension until the 2018 season. With a new contract and new expectations in Commerce, the Lions started the season ranked 9th in the nation and projected to win the LSC for a third straight season. The Lions did just that as they finished the season 11-2 and 8-1 in LSC play to claim another conference championship. The Lions once again clinched a playoff berth and were rewarded the opportunity to host the first round. The Lions defeated Colorado-Mesa in round one, but fell to Grand Valley State in the second round. Carthel was rewarded another extension from Athletic Director Tim McMurray and President Ray Keck through the 2020 season.

The 2017 campaign will be one to remember for Coach Carthel as it saw the Lions win the Division II National Championship over West Florida 37-27 in Kansas City, KS. The season also saw quarterback Luis Perez win the Harlon Hill Trophy for the nations best player. The Lions finished the season 14-1, however A&M-Commerce did not win it’s fourth straight LSC championship as the Mustangs from Midwestern State were the only team to defeat the Lions in 2017. The magical playoff run saw the Lions win their first three playoff games on the road at Winona State, Central Washington, and at the time No. 1 ranked Minnesota State-Mankato. The Lions proceeded to win the National Semi-Finals in Commerce versus Harding University before defeating West Florida.

The 2018 season saw many new faces on the roster, nonetheless the Lions were still picked as the preseason No. 1 ranked team in the nation and were projected to win the Lone Star Conference. With many expectations following the 2017 season, the Lions put together a solid season finishing 10-3 and runner up in the Lone Star Conference. The Lions fell to conference rival Tarleton State in the second round of the Divison II playoffs 34-28 as the Texans spoiled the Lions’ chance at a repeat national championship. In 2018 for the first time in his career, Coach Carthel was named Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year.

The Lions will miss the spunk and energy that Carthel brought day in and day out for the program. If you’ve ever had the chance to meet Carthel, then you know he brings the same attitude on and off the field. This is a great hire by Stephen F. Austin, acquiring a devoted Christian and family man who likes to bring that same message and culture to his locker room.

Thank you, Coach Carthel, for leaving this university better than you found it. You’re forever and always a Lion.

Until we meet again,

#ToTheTop 🦁