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Illinois AD's letter to fans regarding the search

Well written letter from AD Mike Thomas about the search and the qualities and traits that the next head coach needs to have.


Dear Alumni, Students and Friends,

I thank you for your support of Fighting Illini football during the 2011 regular season. Our team has become bowl-eligible for the second-straight season, making it the first Illinois squad to do so since 1992. I look forward to joining them and our fans at our third bowl game in the last five years. An announcement concerning the exact bowl, date and time that our team will compete will be made in the very near future. As with all the latest news, please check FightingIllini.com.

As our search for a new head football coach moves forward, I have a strong sense of the type of coach we need to realize the potential of Illini football. I intend to contact a trusted group of friends who are well respected in collegiate and professional football circles. A successful football coach at Illinois or any top-tier college program must have talents beyond the knowledge of the game, particularly for a program intent on establishing itself consistently among the Top 25 BCS programs in the country and at the top of the Big Ten. We will find this person for Illinois!

Unlike the recruitment of a top-tier member of our faculty or the majority of prospective student-athletes, coaching candidates who reach finalist level for BCS coaching jobs are often known to the mainstream media, talk shows and message boards, which are such a big part of today's media landscape. During coaching searches - including the early stages of this process - we have heard the popularity of certain candidates in the eyes of the public. Many seem to understand what we should be looking for in our next head coach. We appreciate the letters and emails, and the passion that fuels them.

As the Director of Athletics at the University of Illinois, my charge is to be clear about the attributes of a new head coach and how each candidate fits in the best interests of Illini athletics. We have a trusted process that toes the line between short-term expectations and long-term success of the coach and the university.

Our successful candidate will have a desire to be at the University of Illinois and will have a plan to build on our foundation. You can rest assured that the subject of a long-term commitment to our student-athletes, alumni and friends will be discussed with all candidates. Our goal is a long-term partnership that will keep Illinois moving forward. We don't intend to back off our stated objective of competing for Big Ten and national championships.

Since college coaches are educators, top-flight recruiting and teaching skills are a must for the potential pool of coaches. Our successful candidate must be able to recruit in Illinois and the Midwest, and also have the network to reach out to other national recruiting hotbeds to bring in high-caliber prospective student-athletes.

It is very important that our new head coach be a man with whom you would trust your son's continued development into a successful person long after his playing days are over. My wife and I have three sons (along with a wonderful daughter) and this is a very important factor for me, as I would want the same care to be associated with individuals entrusted to develop the potential of my own kids. 

In order to find an individual with these qualities, we will offer competitive compensation for the new coach and assistants, the opportunity to compete in the premier conference in the country, state-of-the-art facilities, a top-flight strength and conditioning program, the continued development of one of the best academic support programs in the nation and one of the country's top alumni and fan bases. Perhaps the biggest draw is the solid foundation of talent that has made Illinois bowl-eligible in consecutive seasons. I think our head coaching job is one of the best in the country.

We are now actively evaluating individuals and are fully aware of timelines and mandates associated with recruiting, building a coaching staff and for dealing with current head coaches. I have no doubt that our process will yield an outstanding leader for Illinois football.

In the end, our University of Illinois community will work to be a place where a great football coach wants to stay because he can find success and know that we are committed to being the best in the Big Ten and the nation.

Thanks for your passion for the program. We will have a new coach very soon and will be in touch as quickly as possible once this process is complete.


Mike Thomas

Director of Athletics

Video: Arizona State AD

Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love took some time to give the media some insight on the past, present, and future of the Sun Devil program.

The video below is an interesting take on the behind the scenes decision making process from a major college football program.

James Franklin to UNC?

By nearly any standard, what James Franklin has accomplished at Vanderbilt in 11 months is impressive. Franklin led the Commodores to a 6-6 record including close losses to Florida (21-26) and Arkansas (28-31) and has the 'Dores going bowling; but more impressive is the turnaround he has done for the image of the program and the psyche of the University.

Vandy's Chancellor recently stated that Coach Franklin has agreed to an extension that includes a significant pay increase. As comes with success, Franklin's name is being mentioned in some circles for other jobs (UNC is currently out there). 

Franklin is a man of high character, and a man of his word.  From the video below, it's clear how much the Vanderbilt base has embraced him. Even if it were "his dream job" (no need for Randy Edsall jokes), at this time for Franklin to even consider another job would be incredibly out of character. We don't believe that's the case.

James Franklin is all in at Vanderbilt. 


Washington State

Athletic director Bill Moos held a press conference yesterday to talk about the state of the Cougar football program, and answered every media questions very directly.

"We have the lowest annual giving numbers by far in the Pac-12 and I feel we have apathy in our fan base. That is the primary reason for the change I made."

Moos stated that the program deserves a big name coach with head coaching experience and he would prefer someone who brought a high octane offense to put people in the stands. Moos will act as the entire search committee. He also said that he keeps a "short list" in the top drawer of his desk and that he updates it regularly.

He was easily coerced into saying that Mike Leach is on that short list (in fact many watching got the feeling that most of his talk was aimed directly at Leach). In fact, Moos spoke openly about Leach. Other names he discussed included Mike Bellotti ("he's on the short list; but I'd say he's softly on it...haven't spoken with Mike in quite a while"), Dennis Erickson ("no, I don't really see him being a candidate here this time") and Dirk Koetter ("I think he's pretty comfortable in the league...good coach though"). Moos stressed that getting a coach in place quickly is going to be the focus, and expects to name someone within two to three weeks. Moos said he knew that he was going to have to be prepared to pay significantly more than Paul Wulff was making to attract top talent. 

Wulff stated, "You're looking at the search committee (and pointed to himself). That's how I do it and that's what I beleive in." If he is able to reach an agreement with one of his top two or three candidates, we expect this one to play out rather quickly. 

We hear that Moos will consider Leach, Jim McElwain and Scott Linehan.

No TV Wednesday

No games on tonight.

All times are eastern.


No games.


No games.

High School:

No games.

FootballScoop Coaches of the Year presented by SpeedTracs

We're about half way through announcing the finalists for the 2011 Coaches of the Year awards presented by SpeedTracs. 

We would like to thank SpeedTracs for sponsoring the awards once again (watch a few minutes of the video below to learn more about how SpeedTracs can help your team win more games). 

As a reminder, each of the Finalists were nominated by their peers and the winners will be selected by a panel of coaches (including the former winners). 

Click here to see the list of the Finalists announced thus far.

Video: First day as head coach

On November 16th, Bob Davie was hired to take over the New Mexico football program.

The two videos below highlight his first day on the job ranging from the flight into Albuquerque, to seeing the stadium for the first time. 

Davie definitely still has the passion...

By the way, expect more and more of these videos thanks in large part to the success Vanderbilt and James Franklin had in using them. Thankfully, however, we don't expect many, if any, more head coaching hire announcements on Facebook.


Sources tell us Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger will complete this process quickly. We are told he already has his shortlist and the deal could be done far sooner than most would think. The candidates all are familiar enough with the program such that there is no need for a drawn out process. 

The facilities are top notch (see video below). The support from the athletic director will be rock solid. The fan base will rally around the new coach. All of that is nice; but in order to be successful the next head coach needs to improve the talent base. It's all about the players. 

This one is moving fast. Some very good coaches involved. We'll keep you posted.