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Fans cheer for UTC during the Mocs' home football game against the Mercer Bears at Finley Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Russ Huesman took over a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program that went 1-11 in 2008 and proceeded to go 6-5 in his debut season.

The Mocs also went from averaging 5,767 fans at Finley Stadium the year before Huesman's arrival to 10,503 in his first year. Average attendance grew to 12,699 in 2010, setting a program record that none of his last six teams could match despite the three consecutive Southern Conference championships and three straight FCS playoff trips.

This season's team got to No. 3 nationally, the highest for the program since FCS rankings began in 1982, but the average home attendance dipped to 9,494, the lowest figure in his eight-year run.

"I was a little disappointed, to be honest with you," Huesman said Thursday. "I thought our football team needed some more people in the crowd, and I think the people of Chattanooga need to get out there more. If you love sports and didn't come to a game this year, then shame on you."

UTC's last home crowd of the Huesman era was 5,288, with that being for the drubbing of Weber State in the first round of the playoffs.

Huesman was a guest Thursday of "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM and was up for a clearing-the-air game of true or false:

You're leaving because you felt you've accomplished all that can be accomplished here.

"That's false. I think this is a great place, and the next guy is going to accomplish as much or more. I truly believe that. I know that they will hire a great coach. (Athletic director) David Blackburn has done a pretty decent job if you look at his track record here, and I think you can do way more at Chattanooga."

You're leaving because the proposed athletic facility adjacent to McKenzie Arena is taking a while to get funded.

"That building will be built, and it will be a proud day, and I will be a proud alum. It's going to get done."

You're leaving because of a sometimes icy relationship with David Blackburn.

"Not even close. David and I spoke for an hour on the phone Sunday night, and I called him because I wanted to bend his ear for advice. I was really struggling at the time, and I called him for advice. That's how much I think about him.

"I knew he would have great insight into what I was thinking and how I was feeling. David Blackburn has given our football program everything we've needed."

You're leaving because UTC couldn't come close to matching what Richmond is offering.

"The contract they showed and offered me here was way more generous than I deserved. When they told me what they were going to do, my jaw dropped a little bit."

You're leaving because the pay is so much better for your assistant coaches.

"Yes, it is, but Chattanooga's assistant coaching pool is really good. I would say Chattanooga is in the top 25, but Richmond is probably No. 1 or No. 2 in the country (among FCS programs) and certainly in the top five as far as what they do for assistant coaches."

You're leaving to assemble a new staff that will have your son Jacob on it.

"Jacob is hoping that when this football season is over, he will get signed to a 90-man (NFL) roster. We think that's going to happen, and that's what he's focused on. Will he ever coach for me? I don't know. I think he wants to get into coaching, but his sole focus right now is getting on a 90-man roster.

"I'd love to have Jacob coach for me, so that's not out of the realm of thought down the road."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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