Drew Cronic stepped down from his position as head coach of Mercer’s football program on Tuesday. His next role will be with the Navy Midshipmen as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Cronic came to Mercer in 2020 after having been the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he led the Division-II team to much success in the regular and post season.
After the team mired around the bottom of the Southern Conference with their former head coach, Bobby Lamb, Mercer hired Cronic to infuse new life into the program. In his first season at the helm, Cronic led the team to the only sub-.500 year while he was in Macon.
Over the next three seasons, the team went 23-11, by far its best stretch since the program was reinstated in 2013, and in the SoCon, the Bears went 17-7.
Under Cronic, Mercer athletics was once again put on the national stage as it opened the 2023 college football season with a nationally-televised game against the University of North Alabama.
The Bears also earned a pair of program-firsts. In 2023, Mercer went to, and won, its first-ever FCS Playoff game, beating Gardner-Webb at home. The achievement was a culmination of Cronic’s stint at Mercer as the team gradually strengthened itself in all facets of the game.
Looking ahead, Cronic has his work cut out for him at Navy. An FBS school, the Midshipmen have not had a winning season since 2019. The team has also recently fired its offensive coordinator of one year, according to a Navy Sports press release.
This is yet another turn of fate for Mercer’s program in recent months. Its defensive coordinator, Joel Taylor, left for a head coaching gig at the University of West Georgia, and its offensive coordinator, Bob Bodine, was sacked days after the season ended.
The team’s starting quarterback, Carter Peevy, entered the NCAA transfer portal, and many of The Bears' standout players declared for the NFL draft.
Through a social media poll, Mercer students offered feedback following Cronic’s departure.
Seiler Rivers ‘24 said that she liked him, “especially after all the excitement this season.” The program reached a strength this season that it had envisioned for itself when they recruited Cronic from Lenoir-Rhyne. According to Mercer Athletics, the program played in front of eight sold out crowds during Cronic’s tenure. The average regular season attendance for football was 9,740 in 2023, 400 more than the season prior.
Additionally, Cronic recruited many talented players who served as cornerstones for the team in his final season. Players like Lance Wise Jr. ‘24, Ty James ‘24 and Solomon Zubairu ‘24
Another student wondered whether or not the move would affect the student-athletes in the program. Peevy left the program before Cronic announced his decision, but there could be more players who see the holes in the coaching staff and decide to leave in the spring transfer portal.
John Pittman ‘22, for one, assumed that Cronic was always going to use Mercer as a stepping stone to a larger school.
“I think he was always going to a [Group of 5] team after Mercer and that offer came. Thank you, we move on,” Pittman wrote. “Group of 5” is a term for the five FBS conferences that are not in the “Power 5.” Navy football participates in the American Athletic Conference while its other athletic programs compete in the Patriot League.
Lenoir-Rhyne is a smaller school than Mercer, and Mercer’s conference is much smaller than Navy. Going from Mercer to Navy is a step up in competition for Cronic, and could catapult him towards a head coaching gig elsewhere in the FBS.
Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.