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)

“There were other schools extremely interested in Mike Leach taking days and weeks to assemble a search committee while I was down there hiring him,” Moos said. “You can get bogged down with too many chefs in the kitchen. You have to move when you have your guy.”

'Hold Your Breath’
Those months between the hire and first game can be vital to a program’s success, especially when it comes to season ticket sales. Hire the right candidate and confidence among the fan base will surge.

Leach is a perfect example of the energy a hire can create. Announcing Leach at Washington State sent a jolt through the Cougars fan base.

In less than two weeks WSU sold 21 suites in a stadium that wasn’t even built. An additional 44 loge boxes were sold. A month after Leach was hired, 4,000 additional season ticket packages were sold and donations to the Cougar Club (WSU’s booster club) reached a record level.

“We had a whole bunch of caged Cougars,” Moos said. “When we opened the doors, they came out prowling.“

Arkansas has seen the impact a successful coach can have. Petrino helped get the team into the national conversation with a 21-5 record over two seasons. His Razorbacks were ranked in the Top 10 to end 2010 and 2011.

Razorback Foundation memberships grew with the success. Donations and season ticket sales hit record levels.

It is imperative Long find somebody who can continue that momentum in the offseason. Long-term success for the football program and athletic department depend on it.

That is easier said than done, of course.

For all the work that goes into the hire, there are still no guarantees. Cunningham, who has been part of the hiring process at Tulsa and North Carolina, said that no matter how much work goes into finding a coach and how popular the selection might be, no hire is ever a sure thing.

“It is important that the person have credibility, can inspire some confidence and direction,” Cunningham said. “And then it’s going to take, generally from December until September, to hold your breath and hope this person can actually do what you’re expecting them to do.”



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