Latest on the Search

by Mike Grant on January 4, 2011

in UConn Football

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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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

downstatehusky January 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

Minor correction…..Edsall did go 9-3 in 2003.  That was our last year as an Indy and were not selected for a bowl game.
On your post, I tend to agree with you about needing some new blood at the top.  Where I'm on the fence is whether to take a big name like Fulmer or go the more safe way with the hot coordinator or FCS coach (the Tom Bradley's and KC Keeler's).  The one thing that I can care less about (and I think I'm in the minority) is CT ties.  We have to be honest with ourselves, landing the top talent in CT is not akin to landing top FL talent.  It's not even comparable to NJ or PA talent.  There's talent up here in the Northeast, but we have to recruit up and down the east coast.  Losing Richardson really hurts as far as FL recruiting is concerned. 
My top 3 realistic choices right now are (in no particular order) Tom Bradley, KC Keeler, and Fulmer.  RichRod is interesting.  Leach, no thanks.

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Michael Grant January 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Great job Downstate, I did neglect the 9-3 non-bowl year. Thank you.
I'm right there with you on the candidates. (No order) I like Bradley, perhaps McGovern from BC. Keeler should definitely get consideration. I certainly wouldn't mind Fulmer. Rich Rod is probably my #1. Whipple has the mind for it, but I'm worried about his temper. Apparently a hot-head…

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Husky88 January 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

This is an opportunity for us to upgrade the coaching talent, and the list of names being floated around is very encouraging and I agree that we should take advantage of this.

My own opinion, here is what I think we need from the next head coach (in order of importance):

1. A Winner. Clearly winning sets the table for everything else, so this requirement is table stakes.
2. A Marketer. This is where RE came up short, both in terms of selling the program to the state, getting the groundswell of local support, and his failure to attract blue chip players.
3. Commitment. No more stepping stone – we need someone that we know will be around for a while and is looking to build a legacy. This is where I think the CT roots can be helpful – everything else being the same, the guy who is "coming home" and wants to be "the guy" in his old stomping grounds will have more skin in the game than the other guy.

My 2 cents…

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mike in manila January 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Husky88 your are spot on…however I think being from CT is the least important. I like the names I am hearing so far, especially Keeler and Bradley…

Just guessing but I think this is wrapped up by the middle of next week

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Lee Underwood January 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Speculation in Miami that Tony Sparano might be your candidate.

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Michael Grant January 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Tell us more Lee, what do you have?

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hopkinspat January 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Lee he is going to opt for UC over Miami?
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=59995…

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