From his days as a highly successful player at both the high school and collegiate level, to his tenure as an assistant coach, and, most recently, as head coach, Bobby Lamb has enjoyed notable success.
Through eight seasons as mentor at his alma mater he has compiled a 62-34 record (.646 winning percentage). That ranks among the top winning percentages among active FCS head coaches with at least five years of service to their institutions and fourth among Furman head coaches, trailing only his former head coach Dick Sheridan (.744, 1978-85), Jimmy Satterfield (.689, 1986-91), and W. L. Laval (.688, 1915-27).
The success Furman has enjoyed under Lamb is even more laudable when considering the nationally renown liberal arts university boasts the most rigorous academic regimen of any SoCon school that competes for the league championship. Indeed, since the NCAA instituted its Academic Progress Rate (APR) monitoring system, which tracks eligibility, retention, and graduation, Furman’s football program has produced the highest average APR score among league schools. The story is the same when examining NCAA Graduation Success Rates (GSR), with Furman leading the SoCon.
Furman’s on-the-field results have mirrored the success in the classroom as the Paladins have compiled a 40-20 record (.667) versus SoCon foes, made four FCS playoff appearances, and claimed the 2004 conference championship during Lamb’s tenure.
That coaching and success have been constants in Lamb’s life appear to be nearly preordained. The son of a highly successful prep coach in Georgia and winner as a high school and collegiate player and assistant coach, he assumed the reins of Furman’s football program in December of 2001, marking the culmination of a lifelong dream of becoming a collegiate head coach. To realize his dream at his alma mater made the moment even more special.
The next signal moment in his head coaching experience came in 2004 when he directed Furman to a 10-3 record, SoCon championship, and No. 5 final national ranking — a performance that netted him league coach-of-the-year honors. He followed up that success by leading his Paladins to an 11-3 record , NCAA I-AA (now FCS) semifinal playoff finish, and No. 3 final national ranking in 2005.
A Commerce, Ga., native, Lamb had served as an assistant on the Paladin staff for 16 years before becoming Furman’s 21st head coach; and, while at 47 years of age he still ranks as one of the younger mentors in the SoCon, in terms of total years of experience with his current school, he has no peer. Indeed, when combining a highly decorated four-year playing career with his time as a member of Furman’s coaching staff, his 27 years of service to his alma mater rank first among current league head coaches.
A former Paladin standout quarterback and 1995 inductee into the university’s athletic hall-of-fame, Lamb spent 13 years as quarterbacks coach and from 1993 to 2001 served as passing game coordinator before being tapped to succeed Bobby Johnson as head coach following his departure to Vanderbilt. Lamb’s assistant coaching tenure also included work with the program’s receivers and defensive ends.
As a member of the Paladin coaching staff, he has played a pivotal role in some of the greatest seasons in school history, including six SoCon championships, a national championship, and a national runner-up finish. Furman’s record during his tenure as an assistant coach was 126-65-3 (.657).
Fueling Furman’s team success during his span as an assistant and in his years as head coach has been the outstanding play of Lamb-developed quarterbacks. The latest products are Jordan Sorrells (2006-09), who completed his career as Furman’s all-time passing yards leader (6,278 yards), and Ingle Martin, an all-conference signal caller who in 2005 passed for a school record 2,959 yards and 20 touchdowns prior to being selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
In 2001 Lamb oversaw the emergence of Billy Napier, a two-time all-conference performer who completed a stellar career by passing for a then-school record 2,475 yards, finishing second in the nation in passing efficiency, and setting a new league season completion percentage standard (68.5 percent).
Prior to Napier, he assisted in the development of Justin Hill (1997-00) into an all-league player. In 1999 Hill directed Furman to a 9-3 record and league championship season that included a 28-3 win over North Carolina.
Before Hill, he helped mold Braniff Bonaventure (1993-96) into an all-conference signal caller and national record holder for most consecutive pass attempts (217) without an interception. Bonaventure’s emergence followed that of two-time all-conference quarterback Frankie DeBusk (1987-90), who Lamb mentored during the 1989 and ‘90 seasons. DeBusk shattered several school records, many formerly held by Lamb, including career passing yards and total offense.
Prior to taking over duties as quarterbacks coach in 1989 under then-head coach Jimmy Satterfield, Lamb directed the program’s defensive ends for two seasons, including a 1988 campaign that saw All-America performers Kelly Fletcher and Chris Roper play a crucial role in Furman leading the nation in scoring defense (9.7 ppg) and headlining the Paladins’ drive to a school season best 13-2 record and I-AA national championship.
Furman’s success during his tenure as an assistant coach only continued the level of achievement he helped deliver as an all-star prep and college quarterback.
Lamb came to Furman in 1982 under Dick Sheridan after fashioning a fine career at Commerce (Ga.) High School, where he played for his father, Ray Lamb. In 1981 he was named by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as its AA Back-of-the-Year after leading Commerce to a 13-1-1 record and state championship.
At Furman he put his impressive ability and field savvy on display beginning in his sophomore season when he stepped in for injured starting quarterback David Charpia to lead the Paladins to a 17-14 win over Georgia Tech on the way to 10-2-1 record, league championship, and I-AA semifinal playoff finish. In his first full season as a starter in 1984, he helped engineer Furman to an 8-3 record, including a 34-30 triumph over North Carolina State.
As a senior in 1985 he recorded perhaps the most effective season ever by a Paladin quarterback, completing 133-of-228 pass attempts for 2,264 yards and 24 touchdowns (only six interceptions). His 171.20 passing efficiency rating led the nation and helped the Paladins post their fourth straight win over a I-A opponent with a 42-20 rout of North Carolina State. In addition to going undefeated in league play (6-0) and notching the program’s third conference title in four seasons, the Paladins finished as national runner-up with a 12-2 record. In recognition of his outstanding play, he was named SoCon Player-of-the-Year, Furman Male Athlete-of-the-Year, South Carolina Male Amateur Athlete-of-the-Year by the South Carolina Athletic Hall-of-Fame, and Carolinas Male Amateur Athlete-of-the-Year by the Charlotte Athletic Club.
In helping Furman to a 39-10-1 record (.790) during his playing career, Lamb, who still holds a number of school records and two league standards, helped fashion the second best four-year stretch in school history. During his playing and coaching tenure at Furman, the Paladins have notched a 215-99-4 record (.682) and have captured nine of the school’s league record 12 league championships.
Lamb graduated from Furman in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in health and exercise science and in 1992 added a master’s of education degree in the same field.
He and his wife, Allyson Acker of Greenville, have two children: a daughter, Sallie, and a son, Taylor.