White Will be Busy Over Holidays

Slow down on the Steve Mariucci talk. The 49ers coach dismissed talk of his unhappiness in the Bay Area and stressed he wants to finish off the final two years of his contract. So Kevin White, and a newly hired search firm, apparently have much more work to do this Holiday season.

Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™

December 21, 2001

Bay Area Appears
To Dry Up For White

By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

Unless you're traveling to see your family for the holidays, this is no time to be in an airport.  And while Notre Dame is staying mum on its search for a new head football coach, it is becoming apparent that Athletic Director Kevin White still has much work and flying to do to find his man.

The two hottest areas for the search, the San Francisco Bay Area and Columbia, South Carolina, appeared to dry up for the Irish on Thursday and Friday when officials speaking for Steve Mariucci, Tyrone Willingham and Lou Holtz said the trail to their men is cool.  At least for the time being.

San Francisco 49ers team director John York said in this morning's San Jose Mercury News that "Steve is committed to being the coach here and to winning."

Mariucci was more comprehensive in his comments.  "I'm happy with (my) contract and I've got two more years left of it," Mariucci said. "Would I like to stay in San Francisco?  You'd better believe it."

Across the Bay, a Stanford athletic administrator spoke to Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune and said "There's no validity to anything regarding Notre Dame (and Willingham)."

Take all of this, of course, with a grain of salt.  Three weeks ago a knowledgeable (and reliable) source at Stanford told The Insiders.Com Network (the parent of IrishEyes) that Willingham and at least two members of the coaching staff had begun discussing compensation with White.

The only person who really knows what is going on is White, and he's not talking.  Notre Dame prefers to let Lou Nanni, a relative newcomer to the University Administration (though well-known in the South Bend community and a Notre Dame graduate) now thrust into the spotlight, answer the questions.

"I'm not going to confirm or deny anything," Nanni told Lesar Thursday when the Irish beat reporter asked about Notre Dame engaging Neinas Sports Services from Boulder, Colorado to assist in the search.  Lesar reported that former College Football Association president Chuck Neinas leads that outfit.   Remember when the Irish and CFA were mortal enemies following the signing of the NBC deal? 

If Neinas and White are truly interested in a Holtz, Lou or Skip, they haven't made their intentions known to the University of South Carolina.

"No one has asked for any permission," South Carolina spokesperson Kerry Tharp said Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Carolina goes about its preparation for the Outback Bowl against Ohio State with a clear mind, at least according to one player.

"(Holtz) told me he wanted to win a championship here," Gamecock center Larrell Johnson told The (Columbia) State. "When he said that, it eliminated the question in my mind about him going back to Notre Dame."

(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes and can be reached at aatandsonspr@aol.com)

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