January 18, 2024

MACON – Athletics department officials at Mercer University announced Thursday morning that 21-year collegiate coaching veteran Mike Jacobs has been named as the football program's 21st head coach.
Jacobs, who has compiled a 74-17 (.813) record across head coaching stops at both Notre Dame (Ohio) and Lenoir-Rhyne, boasts the nation's sixth-best winning percentage among active coaches at the NCAA Divisions I and II levels. He is fresh off of a 2023 campaign that saw him lead Lenoir-Rhyne to a 13-2 clip that was accentuated with an appearance in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
"I want to thank the search committee members for their endless hours of work in identifying the next leader of our football program. It was a joy to work alongside them," said Mercer Athletics Director Jim Cole. "Our goal throughout this process was to find not only a leader with a track record of success, but also one who will continue to build on the success that our program has already experienced. Mike Jacobs shares our values and our vision for Mercer Football, but also think that he is a leader that young men will want to play for. I am excited to welcome Mike, his wife, Lacey, and their two sons, Luke and Knox, to the Mercer Bears family."
In eight campaigns as an NCAA Division II coach, Jacobs has mentored 17 student-athletes to all-region laurels, with seven of those standouts collecting all-America nods as well. His programs also boast 86 all-conference awards, including 62 in four seasons at Notre Dame, and six Academic All-America crowns. Former Notre Dame running back Jaleel McLaughlin was a two-time finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, including a runner-up finish in 2019, while former L-R wide receiver Dareke Young was selected in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
A three-time conference coach of the year recipient, he was also tabbed as the National Coach of the Year in 2018 by Don Hansen's Football Gazette.
Jacobs, who succeeded former head coach Drew Cronic as the leader of the program in Hickory, N.C., prior to the 2020 campaign, skippered the Bears to a 32-9 record over the last four seasons, as well as the 2023 South Atlantic Conference championship and a trio of league divisional titles. L-R capped its most recent campaign, one which included the school's first NCAA postseason road victory, with a No. 4 national ranking as well.
Jacobs led Notre Dame to a dominant run of success from 2016-19 as evidenced by a cumulative 42-8 (.840) record and a pair of Mountain East Conference championships. The Falcons racked up a 13-1 record and advanced all the way through to the semifinal round to cap the program's first-ever berth into the NCAA postseason in 2018, and returned to the sport's biggest stage the following season on the way to a 12-2 record and a berth into the NCAA quarterfinals.
"My family and I are humbled to be joining the Mercer University Football family," Jacobs said. "Mercer is an elite institution that has competed at the highest level both on the field and in the classroom. We look forward to immersing ourselves in both the campus community and the city of Macon. Go Bears!"
Jacobs, a former standout on the offensive line for coaches John Cooper and Jim Tressel at Ohio State from 1997-01, has stints on the coaching staffs at four other collegiate institutions as well, including one as a graduate assistant coach and offensive line assistant at Eastern Michigan for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He later served as an assistant coach at Wilmington (Ohio), Purdue and California (Pa.), before accepting a position as the defensive line coach at Notre Dame in time for the 2014 season. He was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Falcons prior to the 2015 campaign.