UConn held a presser today and revealed that Chuck Neinas has been hired as a consultant in the coaching search. If you aren't familiar with Neinas, here's a snippet from a 2006 USA Today article :
To coaches and athletics directors, Neinas is the middleman with the plan, a powerful behind-the-scenes operator who always seems to be involved in the most lucrative coaching searches.
The president of Neinas Sports Services in Boulder, Colo., has handled six coaching searches this season alone. He's leading the hunt to fill vacancies at Alabama and Louisiana Tech. He recently has completed four coaching searches that concluded with the hirings of Randy Shannon at Miami (Fla.), Butch Davis at North Carolina, Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State and Mark Dantonio at Michigan State.
Over the last decade, Neinas has helped schools hire some of the biggest coaching names in college football: Mack Brown at defending national champion Texas; Bob Stoops at Oklahoma; Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame, then Washington; Les Miles at Oklahoma State, then LSU; Mark Richt at Georgia, and Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M.
I consider this to be very good news. Hathaway hiring him underscores that he understands how important this hire is.
Interim head coach Hank Hughes was very open about wanting the job today and Hathaway confirmed that he is indeed a candidate. I don't believe that's a road UConn should go down. Continuity is great, but BCS Bowl or not, the Huskies lost five games this season, and Edsall never lost fewer than four games in a season.
UConn should be looking to improve, not for the status quo. Especially in a league that is undoubtedly on the rise. Syracuse, Louisville and South Florida all have the arrows pointed up. West Virginia just hired one of the best offensive minds in the sport and TCU is on the way.
I have no problem with members of the staff remaining should the next coach choose to retain them, but we need new blood at the top.
Desmond Conner broke an intriguing name this afternoon. Former Tennessee Head Coach Phil Fulmer is interested in the job. Fulmer was tremendously successful at Tennessee, going 152-52 overall and 98-34 in the SEC. He won a National Title in 1998 and won at least 10 games nine out of 17 seasons.
Fulmer was fired following the 2008 season after finishing 5-7. The year before that Tennessee was the SEC East Champ and won 10 games.
Fulmer is certainly a big name, with a track record of great success. Not only is a very good football coach, he's a guy that can flat out recruit. Like, really recruit. UConn may have gained some credibility by appearing in the big stage BCS game, but having a guy like Phil Fulmer walk into your living room, with his national championship ring on and his list of guys he's sent to the NFL would be tremendous.
I'm not ready to call Fulmer my top choice, but UConn could certainly do a lot worse. He most definitely deserves strong consideration.
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