According to Foley, that search began yesterday shortly after he, University President Bernie Machen, and current head coach Will Muschamp took the stage to talk about the dismissal of Muschamp and then Foley talking about his job as the athletic director to move forward.
“The search will begin immediately, this afternoon,” Foley said Monday. “There is no fixed time timetable but we will proceed as quickly as we can. There is a lot of work to do, a lot of research to do. We understand how important this hire is for this university.
There has been a lot of talk and speculation that the search has been going on for a while. Foley dismissed that as he should, because as of last Saturday he had a guy leading his program. That speculation will continue to persist despite what Foley was adamant about Monday.
“We have not contacted anybody,” Foley said. I don't care what's been written or said, rumored, what have you, I have not talked to one coach. We will not disrupt people's seasons. We have a lot of respect for other schools and other programs and what certain schools are trying to accomplish and we have a little time here to do our research but we're not going to disrupt people's seasons.”
With the dismissal of Muschamp before the end of the season Foley insists that ‘his agents won’t be talking to their agents’ behind the scenes and that everything will be known by the different parties involved at the different programs.
We don't cut backroom deals here. That's not how we do things,” Foley said. “We will talk to coaches, we will talk to athletic directors, it will be handled above board and I want that to be understood as well. I understand the intense interest in this search. I understand that it will generate rumors, conversation, and, again, the intense interest of this search makes this place special, people care.
There are few that will believe this, but that isn’t for me to question. It just isn’t how things are normally done in situations like the one at the University of Florida right now. Not when there are other programs close to making the same type of decisions with their coaches and will be in the market for some of the same names as Florida.
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He also knows that money is a much bigger factor, maybe not as big of an issue, than what it has been in the past.
The world changes and University of Florida is going to find a good football coach and we will do what we need to do to be successful today,” Foley said. “We have always taken care of our coaches financially. I do think it's changed to the extent that a lot of people are paying their coaches a lot of money and there may be people that are movable or not movable, but haven't jumped into that and we will find more about that in the next few weeks.”
I do think it has changed here and this is the time that Foley will be willing to make the big financial jump, bigger than before. There are some coaches like he said that are unmovable, but I believe he will try and feel that out as well this time around. I don’t think this was necessarily the case in some previous searches.
What kind of coach is Foley targeting?
You know there are times when someone speaks and you may question a thing or two, but an athletic director like Foley certainly isn’t one to say something that he would likely have to take back down the road and so there are some things that he said on Monday that can help steer us in the right direction of what he is looking for.
Instead of creating another list like the two we have already made in the last two days "The likely next coach" and Coaching search first calls. We can really create a target personality and coaching profile from the things we know of Foley and from what he said on Monday that he knows he will be held to or at least questioned about when it comes time for him to talk to the media about the new hire.
“A couple of things I want to say about whoever the next person may be and I want you to understand going in… first and foremost (he has to have) high integrity and character. Our mission statement says, "Championship experience with integrity," that is paramount to us as we move forward. The guy you just saw up here (Muschamp) you know epitomized that right there, his integrity without question.”
It is not as if we would ever think otherwise of a Foley hire. He always steers clear of coaches that black marks via the NCAA or ethical ones. But coming out and saying it like this tells me that some of the possibilities we have been talking about are most likely not possibilities at all. Again, he will do his due diligence in vetting the accusations and the where the blame lies in some of these cases, but this is certainly something he would not want to be called out on later.
Foley continued talking along the lines of what the next coach would have had to have shown on the football field.
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“We would obviously like an individual that's been successful on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. I think obviously that's what the Gator Nation wants and we see that and that's what we're certainly going to try to provide for them.”
Foley made a calculated hire with Muschamp, one that didn’t work out. The biggest issue the current staff has faced has been a lack of ability on the offensive side of the ball to not only produce, but generate the fan’s interest. Foley knows what the fans want and it isn’t as if they haven’t tried to make it happen by hiring high profile offensive coordinators, but he now wants a head coach with a proven track record with a high flying offense.
“I think you listen to the fans and certainly when Steve [Spurrier] was here and Urban [Meyer] was here, what fans say, we think that's important,” Foley said. “Going forward we will see what the pool looks like but we do think that's important.
Foley tried to make his remarks clear later in the interview session and says he is okay with a defensive minded head coach, but that defensive minded head coach has to have a proven track record of a high flying and effective offense.
When will it get done?
He won’t rush the decision. Yet, let me assure to you that Foley puts a huge premium on recruiting. A coaches’ recruiting ability is one of the highest rated aspects of the job that Foley looks at. And he understands that recruiting will be in a fog until someone is hired and even a little after that.
“There is no question anytime there is a coaching change it's difficult in recruiting,” Foley said. “Signing day is not until February. You can't rush this. At the end of the day, it's still the University of Florida. We’ve got a lot to offer up here. I think we have an opportunity here and a new coach will get in here, but recruiting is about relationships, you have heard Will talk about it and Urban talk about it and that's the way it is.
“A new coach coming in here will be behind the 8-ball but you're not going to rush it because of recruiting. Recruiting is important and we'll get a coach in here in plenty of time to visit and we will convince folks this is a great place to be because it is a great place to be.
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That led Foley to say when he hopes to have a new coach named.
“Certainly I think you like to have somebody on board at some point in December,” he said. “To get acclimated to get a staff in place so you can hit the ground running at recruiting time. I know there is a dead period in December sometime, I don't know exactly when that is, but that's ideal. A lot of things that go into that, bowl games, those types of things, but we will navigate that. I don't want people holding me to December 8th, ‘Why don't you have a coach?’ I'm not saying that. Ideally you would like to have somebody in here before Christmas. That would be perfect.”
With those little bits we could likely infer that the next coach won’t come from the NFL. Saying he won’t talk to anyone until their regular season is over, the NFL’s last weekend of the regular season is December 28. He wants to have someone named before then.
Ideally a hire comes round December 10. I understand waiting for the top guy and working it out, they did that with Meyer when Notre Dame entered the picture. But all the time you wait on someone, the next group of high profile coaches are moving on or getting their new contracts to stay put. You end up losing out on them as well if you don’t get the one you are waiting for.
Regardless, there is a lot of work to do and it is an exciting if not nerve racking time to follow Florida football.