ULM athletics director Bobby Staub doesn't appear to have anyone particular in mind as a replacement for football coach Charlie Weatherbie. Staub does have a sense of urgency though, as ULM tries to find the right fit for the job as soon as possible. The position opened on Monday with the decision that ULM would not renew its contract with Weatherbie after seven years.
"Sooner than later," Staub said when asked his timetable for landing a new coach, "because the recruiting process is so critical. We want to get someone here as soon as we can. This process started today for a national search. We'll do everything we can to get the best coach in here that we can."
Carr Sports Associates, which has worked with ULM before, will help with the headhunt. "We're developing that profile with Carr and Associates as we speak," Staub said. "We're going to take in a number of different factors – identify the profile that we need to be successful at ULM."
Possible candidates could come directly from the Weatherbie coaching tree. Weatherbie's recommendation to ULM was Troy Reffett, the gung-ho defensive coordinator who came to ULM from New Mexico.
"I think he'd be a great, great candidate for this job," Weatherbie said. "I think he's a tough, hard-nosed kind of guy -- a tough-love kind of guy that I believe is in coaching for the right reasons. Loves the kids, but yet wants great discipline from them and can achieve that and take this program to the next level."
Other former ULM assistants who could be interested include Ole Miss assistants Kim Dameron and Ron Dickerson, along with Illinois State offensive coordinator Steve Farmer. Staub remained close to former ULM defensive coordinator Bob Trott after he left Monroe for the Cleveland Browns.
Former ULM and NFL quarterback Doug Pederson, a successful high school coach who is in his first season as an offensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, could be a consideration.
The rumor mill Web site FootballCoachScoop.com reported that Staub is "very interested in talking with Mark Stoops (Arizona Defensive Coordinator), Mary English (Wyoming Defensive Coordinator), Paul Petrino (Arkansas Offensive Coordinator), Gunter Brewer (Oklahoma State Offensive Coordinator) and Ted Gilmore (Nebraska WR/Recruiting Coordinator)." The site later mentioned Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as another person of interest.
Stoops was also linked to the head coaching job at FCS power Youngstown State, which will reportedly pay $250,000 or more to its next hire. Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, now at North Alabama, has been linked to multiple openings and would not be a surprising candidate.
Part of the process means finding a coach willing to accept ULM's pay scale. Weatherbie ($160,000 base in 2009) and his staff ($421,000 total) were the lowest paid in the nation in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Scheduling also leaves little room for error in wins and losses as ULM relies on money games to help fund athletics. To generate necessary revenue, Weatherbie even had a clause in his contract requiring that he participate in an appropriate number but not more than three non-conference guarantee games unless mutually agreed upon with the AD.
"It's not easy," Staub said. "There are 120 FBS schools out there and only 10 of them are paying their bills. So, the reality is at that mid-major level, when you get to 70 and above, it's a challenge and they're all playing money games. Playing three is ridiculous. We've got to get to a place where we can transition off of that."