The 65-year-old Cronic, who has been coaching for more than 40 years, has made a long-awaited return to the county where his coaching career began, starting in 1971 as an assistant coach at Cherokee High School.
“We are very excited to have a coach with great character.” athletic director Bill Popp said of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Famer. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and great leadership, and has a real sense of the
community. Coach Cronic is a man of faith, character and an experienced leader, which is exactly what we were looking for in a head coach.”
For Cronic, the move felt natural.
“It feels very much like coming home,” he said.
Cronic first left the county to coach at Middle Tennessee State University in 1978, but he soon returned to the high school ranks at LaGrange High School, which Cronic led to a state runner-up finish in 1983.
Cronic then returned to the college game at West Georgia — reunited with former Cherokee coach Bobby Pate, for whom he got his coaching start — in 1984 before taking the head-coaching jobs at Forsyth Central and East Coweta, where he would remain for nearly two decades.
A brief retirement, and one year as the coach at the Heritage School in Newman brought Cronic to Reinhardt in 2011.
Since his arrival in Waleska, Cronic’s greatest challenges came with building a coaching staff and finding the players necessary to field a squad.
“Our goal was to recruit 70 players. We’ve now signed over 140,” Cronic said. “We have some very good players.”
Cronic credited the university itself as a big reason why they were able to double their desired number of recruits.
“If we get them to visit, we have a very high success rate in recruiting,” Cronic said. “We have a growing, vibrant campus.”
Cronic also pointed out the importance of the HOPE Scholarship in allowing Reinhardt to fund its new football team.
“A lot of funding comes from HOPE, so these kids need to keep their grades up,” he said. “This sets discipline for the team.”
Cronic estimated that around 80 percent of the team currently has the HOPE Scholarship, with close to 90 percent of the team having come from within the state.
Each of Cherokee County’s high schools — save for River Ridge, which has yet to graduate its first class — have all contributed players to Reinhardt’s inaugural team.
As for Cronic’s coaching staff, two of his first hires were assistants with Cherokee High ties — former head coach Larry Prather and former player Will Heath, who, like Cronic, is a member of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame.
“They are both good people,” Cronic said. “It’s great to have them here. They are well-respected in this community by everyone.”
The coaching staff also includes Cronic’s son, Drew, who is serving as the offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator Rusty Wright — both veteran college assistants.
Reggie Perkins will be the offensive line coach, with former professional player Tony Tiller charged with coaching the secondary.
Rather than jump right in to official competition, Reinhardt will take its time so its players can get acclimated to the game, and the Eagles’ playbook, this fall — much like the path taken by other start-up programs like Georgia State and Mercer. The Eagles’ official opener will come in the fall of 2013.
“I like that we will practice for a year to evolve the offense and defense.” Danny Cronic said.
The team’s first practice session will have to wait however, as the university is currently putting the finishing touches on the new 22,000-square-feet athletic facility being built at the Boring Sports Complex just north of campus.
The facility will house a weight room, training room, and coaches offices for football and Reinhardt’s other outdoor sports.
Practice will begin as soon as construction on the facility is complete.
In that time, Cronic is hoping to implement the kind of offensive and defensives systems he envisions his team playing. The coach realizes, though, that to find success, he’ll need to implement the type of system that best benefits the roster.
“The key factor of a good coach is the ability to adapt to what their players are good at and what the opposing coaches do,” Cronic said.
Now firmly into his tenure at Reinhardt, Cronic has had nothing but good things to say concerning the university.
“My bosses here are great,” he said. “The president (J. Thomas Isherwood) and the athletic director have been great. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had.”