'Names are coming across on an hourly basis'

This is the third of a three-part interview Cattracks.net conducted with UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood. In this portion of the interview, Livengood discusses the Mike Price issue and the process facing the search committee as it attempts to pin down Arizona's next football coach.

Cattracks.net: Does it bother you that UA President Peter Likins made a comment saying Mike Price was eliminated from consideration?

Livengood: "I want to be careful with that for obvious reasons. My first thought would be, and my first choice would be that all candidates be considered. The minute I say that, people will say, ‘Well, that's because you want to hire Mike Price.' No. I've never talked to Mike Price about this job. I've talked to Mike Price a lot, and have recently, but it's always been about his well-being, how can I help him. He's a good football coach and he's a good guy. He's a long-time friend. I would like to think that all candidates be considered. Having said that, the President is the President, period. I understand that. I respect that. I work for him."

Cattracks.net: How is the search committee different this time than it was the first time?

Livengood: "There are a lot more people involved, and it's a whole different process, to a degree, because the last time it was done in a couple week period. It was very quick."

Cattracks.net: But that's very common.

Livengood: "Very common. We're going to have the entire month of October to just get names and research people, period. Once we get into November we can cut names down in terms of getting better fits. That's the biggest thing. Where people get confused is that this is a search committee, it's not a selection committee. Names are coming across on an hourly or half-hourly basis."

Cattracks.net: However, you said you wanted that committee to present you with three to five names of finalists for candidates, so while you have input in the ultimate selection, you want them to pare it down to a list of finalists.

Livengood: "I've always said three to five. If it's seven to 10, I understand that, but three to five is a more manageable number. It would be hard to imagine that there would be more than six or seven who are exact fits for what we need given the criteria that we've outlined. The idea is once you get a group and start paring it down, that group will start comparing candidates with each other."

Cattracks.net: You have a leg up on every other Division I college program that's going to make a coaching change. Does this potentially set a bad precedent? Do other colleges conceivably say, ‘You know what, we're going to be making a change anyway. Maybe we can pull the trigger mid-season too?'

Livengood: "I've never considered it a leg up. I just consider it's where we are and it's what we need to deal with. I don't know that other colleges will use it, "Gosh, if they did that maybe that's the way for us to do it.' Every situation is its own situation. What we do at School X, at School Y, they might say, ‘Gosh, at the end of the year, we have to do this. Let's do it earlier.' I don't think School Y needs to or even would do that. I thought we did not to allow a long window for a search. I just felt it gave our current players and coaches some breathing room right now and have our football team and the program get a different look for the rest of the year."

Cattracks.net: When the search committee brings you the list, could you nominate your own candidate?

Livengood: "I don't see that happening. Could it happen, sure, but I don't see that happening. This is a very good group of people. I know you've heard the talk about no student, no former player, no former coach on the committee, things like that, but this is not brain surgery in terms of looking for people who might fit that role. We're talking about measuring against a lot of people. I would be highly surprised if somebody wasn't on a list that was just a magic person that I would go to them and say, ‘Wow, you didn't even think of so-and-so.' That could happen in a 10-day search. I don't think that can happen in a month, month-and-a-half search. Hard to see it."

Cattracks.net: How much involvement are you going to have in the search committee process?

Livengood: "I'm staying back on purpose because that's the reason for having that group. They need to operate independently right now. I'm trying to stay very much away from talking to or about any candidates. There are people from all over the country coming across. Some would probably scare some people in terms of who would be interested. Again, when it's open this early, if I live in an area of the country where every two years my home is flooded, at some point that person, and it might be a head football coach, this is just an analogy, might say, ‘You know, I don't want to live in this flood plain anymore.' They've got a job open at the University of Arizona that might be very intriguing. I've heard some good things about that Tucson and Southern Arizona.'"

Cattracks.net: Even though you'll have candidates who are pitching you for the job, in the course of the interview, maybe they ask, ‘This is the only program in the Pac-10 that's never been to the Rose Bowl. You have a lot of fan discontent. Fire Tomey, fire Mackovic. You're in a conference with USC that might be an icon again. You already have a built-in thing at Washington. Nike at Oregon. Why would I want to come to Arizona, and why would I come into a situation where I might wonder whether I'll ever be respected here?'"

Livengood: "The answer is very simple. The why is exactly the first reason you mentioned. We've never been to a Rose Bowl. We still have that wonderful peak to climb. We have a tremendous place to live, a great quality of life in Tucson, not just the warm weather. We have a great university that's very diverse, great size, but with a smaller campus where you can get around. We have the best athletic facilities we've ever had. We can compete with anybody facility-wise when you go from the stadium to the practice field to the coaches' offices to the technology in terms of video to the locker room, the weight and training room. Every one of those things. You might see bigger, but you're not going to see better than you see here. With that, you ought to be able to recruit some good kids. I am probably closer to that than anybody in the Pac-10, because I've been to Pullman. I've been in Pullman, Washington. If you can get the athletes playing at Washington State, there's no reason we can't get those athletes in Tucson, Arizona. Most coaches, though, don't look at it like that. Most coaches look at it the entirely opposite way. I've had some good young coaches who have taken bad first coaching jobs because they know they can turn it around. You can't tell them it's a bad job. For a young coach, there's no such thing because there's enthusiasm. But there are bad jobs. There are bad jobs where you don't have a chance. This isn't one of them. It will be much more on the other side in terms of people trying to compete against each other than it will be convincing people this is a good job."

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