Jay Mills, 1 of just 2 head coaches in the 20+ year history of Charleston Southern football, announced his retirement on Thursday citing his desire to run an entire athletic department instead of just a football team.
Mills has been with the Buccaneers since the 2003 season when he replaced David Dowd. He's lead CSU to a 48-63 record in his 10 seasons including a share of the Big South championship in 2005. He was also named the conference coach of the year that season. Those 48 wins are also the most in school history.
Charleston Southern bounced back in 2012 after an awful 2011 season that saw the team go 0-11. But Mills would lead the team to 5 wins in what turned out to be his final season including victories over rivals VMI and Gardner-Webb. He said even though he had thoughts about retirement after 2011, it was important for him to not leave on a winless season and to make sure the program was in good shape when he left.
"I couldn't settle for that, I couldn't walk away from that. Now we're close and our guys are fired up for our future. The program is in great shape, I think they're gonna win next season."
Mills also led the school into some of the biggest games they've ever played in taking on major 1-A schools like Florida, Miami, Florida State and Kentucky. The games helped the Bucs gain some national recognition and also helped fund the new lockerroom that opened before the 2012 season.
Athletic Director Hank Small said he was very surprised when Mills told him on Wednesday that he would be retiring but had nothing but good things to say about his now former coach. "He was so faithful to his vision of the program" Small said of Mills' early days with the team. "It would have been easy for him to get frustrated."
As for a replacement, Small said within the first few hours that Mills' decision to leave was found out, he received several calls expressing interest in the job. Coaches from NFL, FBS and FCS teams have inquired about the opening according to Small. But he said he'd like to bring in a coach who has experience winning at the FCS level.