Bahn: ADs Say Search Facing Razorbacks' Long Will Take Research, Planning And Instinct

by Chris Bahn  on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 11:59 am  

Jeff Long faces the difficult task of hiring a new football coach. Athletic directors agree it's one of the most challenging parts of their job. (Photo by Ryan Miller)

"No one enjoys doing a high profile search for a football coach or a basketball coach,” Long said. “They’re not enjoyable processes. They’re enjoyable when they’re done and you’ve hired the right person. But it’s a grueling process.”

Paralysis By Analysis
Because person-to-person contact is often limited, compiling background on candidates is a critical part of the hiring process.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Cunningham at North Carolina prefers using search firms, something he utilized when hiring Larry Fedora from Southern Miss. Moos jokes he served as chairman of Washington State’s committee of one, the same position he held when major personnel decisions were made while he was at Oregon.

Calls are made to other athletic directors, coaches and in some cases former players. Athletic directors want to get a feel for what a coach is all about.

No matter who is gathering and processing the information, it’s typically handled in a matter of days. It is rare for the background portion of the hire to stretch beyond a couple of weeks.

Firing Petrino in April gave Long what amounts to an eight-month head start on the search. While there are benefits to candidates knowing well in advance that the job is open, Long recently described the extra time as a “blessing and a curse.”

Information is compiled to help move coaches between the “maybe,” “yes” and “no” piles. Studying the resume, philosophies and personality of a coach aid the process.

Imagine the flaws you can find when evaluating over a period of months. Conversely, such an open timeline provides plenty of time to find reasons a candidate could work at your school.

Ever eaten at a restaurant with seemingly endless options on the menu? Something as simple as ordering dinner can become an ordeal as you talk yourself in and out of what you want to eat.

Byrne experienced a relatively enlogated search at Arizona. He fired Mike Stoops on Oct. 11, 2011. More than a month passed before Rich Rodriguez was announced as the Wildcats’ coach.

That was more than enough time to evaluate and research.

“You can potentially have a little bit of paralysis by analysis if you’re not careful,” Byrne said.

Long has idea of what he is looking for in the Razorbacks’ next head coach. He has said he isn’t ruling out assistant coaches, though the preference would seem to be a person with a record of success with his own program.



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