SJU coaching search update

Today was the deadline for applications when it comes to the head football coaching job at St. John’s.

Both athletic director and search committee member Tom Stock and Joe Mucha, the chair of the 10-member search committee, said the school received 25 applications for the job.

A pre-screening group consisting of Stock, longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Haugen, Mucha, former Johnnies standout Blake Elliott and Dr. Ken Jones, the athletic department’s faculty representative – so about half the search committee – narrowed the pool to 10 this morning.

Though Mucha said the rest of the committee had access to all the pre-screening information as well.

“Everybody had access to all the information,” Mucha said. “Just like doing a math problem, we had to show our work.”

Then, those 10 names were taken to the full committee, who narrowed it down further. Stock wouldn’t say by how much, though he did say the number is still more than five. He said Friday night that he had gotten ahold of all but one of those candidates to begin setting up interviews.

Neither Stock nor Mucha would say who the candidates left in the pool are (and believe me, I tried).

Current defensive assistant coach Gary Fasching, who has confirmed he applied for the job, said Friday night he was not at liberty to comment when asked if he had been contacted to set up an interview.

Attempts to contact Eden Prairie High School coach Mike Grant and former St. John’s quarterback and Carleton coach Kurt Ramler Friday were unsuccessful. Both had previously confirmed their intention to apply for the job.

Former Minnesota and current Idaho assistant coach Gordy Shaw confirmed Friday night that he had applied for the job, but said he had not heard from St. John’s officials. And former Augustana coach Mike Aldrich, who had said he was interested in the job, also could not be reached for comment.

Mucha said the pre-interviews would likely be conducted off-campus, though a specific site has yet to be established. The candidates will meet in person with the full 10 members of the search committee.

“We’re hoping to do those next week,” Stock said. “But they haven’t been scheduled yet. A lot of that will be based on the candidates and their availability.”

“There will certainly be a pattern to our questions,” Mucha added. “There is a very specific skill set we’re looking for. We want the candidates to expound on their philosophies.

“We’re looking for a football coach and an excellent one. But we’re also looking for a person who will be the director of football operations. There’s a lot that goes into that job.”

From the preliminary interview pool, finalists will be selected and brought to campus for day-long interviews. Stock and Mucha both said they’d like to do that in the next couple of weeks, though that may not be possible and those interviews could come after Christmas.

“We’re going to move as aggressively as we can,” Stock said. “But we won’t let speed dictate the quality of the hire.”

Stock said the ideal situation would be to pick two to three finalists, but no number has been set. Mucha said it will be two or more, something he doesn’t envision being a problem given what he feels is the quality of the candidates in the preliminary interview pool.

For his part, Stock also said he was happy with the candidate pool.

“We’re looking for one great head coach,” Stock said. “I think people who look at this job know it’s not an entry-level coaching position. And there are a lot of good coaches entrenched in their current programs. But we’re very happy with our candidate pool. We think we’ll find a very qualified new head coach out of the names we have left.”

 

Frank Rajkowski

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