Little more than a week ago, Mark Tucker spoke hopefully about what lay ahead for Charleston Southern football.
"A year from now, we'll be a little bit healthier," the CSU coach said after the Bucs ended a 5-6 season with a 43-14 loss to The Citadel . "We've got some very good young kids coming up front on offense, and we need to harden ourselves.
"We're headed in the right direction, and we certainly believe in what we do. We just have to do it a whole lot better ... We've got a lot of work ahead of us."
It won't be Tucker who does that work, however. He resigned Friday after two years as CSU's head coach and six years with the program, leaving with an 11-11 overall record and 6-4 mark in the Big South as head coach.
Tucker spent four years at CSU as an assistant on Jamey Caldwell's staff. Caldwell took a job at Coastal Carolina and Tucker was promoted to head coach.
"I want to thank Mark for his hard work and commitment to CSU and the Buccaneers for the past six seasons and we wish him nothing but the very best," Charleston Southern athletic director Jeff Barber said in a release from the school.
Barber would not comment any further, and Tucker said in a text message: "I really don't have anything to say."
Former CSU player Bobby Ruff, now an assistant coach at The Citadel, paid tribute to Tucker on Twitter.
"Class act coach with a good heart and a passion for investing time into the lives of his players," Ruff said. "Thank you Coach Tuck for believing in us."
CSU's announcement said the school would conduct a "national search" for a new head coach, and that defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Zane Vance would serve as interim coach.
Barber came to Charleston Southern from Liberty, where former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was just hired to replace Turner Gill. It's not clear yet if Freeze will retain offensive coordinator Joe Dailey, the former Nebraska and North Carolina QB who helped Liberty to four Big South titles before the Flames moved up to FBS.
If Dailey does not remain at Liberty, he could be ready for his first head-coaching job. Dailey is familiar with the Lowcountry, having recruited Summerville High School quarterback Johnathan Bennett to Liberty.
A couple of former Citadel standouts could emerge as candidates at CSU.
Maurice Drayton is a special-teams assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers, where head coach Mike McCarthy was just fired.
Drayton was The Citadel's defensive coordinator in 2014-15 under former coach Mike Houston, helping the Bulldogs to a Southern Conference title. The 1998 graduate also coached with the Indianapolis Colts, and at Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss and South Carolina State, and played at Berkeley High School.
Everette Sands, a four-time all-SoCon fullback at The Citadel and a 1993 graduate, is currently the running back coach at Texas-San Antonio and has coached at The Citadel, South Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio and Elon.
Among possible candidates with ties to CSU are former Bucs defensive coordinator Chad Staggs, now at Furman. Staggs also was part of Chadwell's staff when the Bucs won a Big South championship and claimed two FCS playoff berths.
Another member of Chadwell's staff was offensive coordinator Gabe Giardina, now head coach at Albany State. He led Albany State to a 7-4 record this season. Giardina's name was on a list of recent applicants for the head-coaching job at McNeese State, along with that of Summerville High School graduate Rickey Bustle, former head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette and offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech.
CSU recently had to vacate 18 victories and one Big South title won under Chadwell during the 2014 and 15 seasons due to NCAA rule violations.