University of Toledo athletic director Pete Liske hopes to put together a short list of head football coaching candidates by this weekend.
“We're still in the preliminary stage, but that's certainly the idea,” Liske said yesterday. “If we can get there, that would be great.”
If all goes well, Liske could have the interviewing process wrapped up and a replacement in place for Gary Pinkel within two weeks.
“It all depends on when we get to that short list,” Liske said. “We want to get the list down to a workable number of names, as opposed to the timing of it.”
Liske plans to remain tight-lipped throughout the interviewing and hiring process, but a few more names have surfaced as possible coaching candidates at UT.
They include Michigan assistant head coach/running backs coach Fred Jackson, a UT assistant from 1979-1981; Nevada coach Chris Tormey, who worked with Liske at both Idaho and Washington; and Tom Bradley, defensive coordinator at Penn State.
Jackson, 50, just completed his ninth season at Michigan, and he has 23 years experience as a Division I-A assistant. In addition to UT and Michigan, he's also had stops at Wisconsin, Navy, South Carolina, Purdue and Vanderbilt.
Tormey, 45, just finished his first year at Nevada, where his team finished 2-10 overall, 1-7 in its first year in the Western Athletic Conference.
Liske hired Tormey as football coach when he was athletic director at Idaho in 1995. In five seasons, Tormey led the Vandals to 33-23 record, a berth in the Division I-AA playoffs, and the first bowl win in school history.
Prior to coaching at Idaho, Tormey spent 11 seasons at Washington, working under Don James. Pinkel also was on that staff.
Tormey was one of three finalists, along with Pinkel, for the Washington job that went to then Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel two years ago.
“I would be surprised if Chris would jump from Nevada to Toledo after just one year,” James said. “But you never know in this business.”
Tormey reportedly has a base salary of $250,000 at Nevada and an overall package worth $300,000. Pinkel had a base salary of $111,000 as UT coach, but incentives pushed the maximum to $210,000.
Liske was asked what kind of package the new coach would get.
“That's a mat-ter for negotiations,” he said.
Bradley, 43, had expressed an interest in the West Virginia job that went to Rich Rodriguez last week. He just completed his 22nd year on coach Joe Paterno's staff, his first as defensive coordinator.
Asked yesterday if he would be interested in the Toledo job, Bradley said: “I would be, but no one has contacted me.”
Liske, a former Penn State quarterback who had Paterno as his position coach, already has said that two former Rocket assistants now on Pinkel's staff at Missouri - defensive coordinator Tom Amstutz and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen - will be interviewed for the UT job.
Northern Iowa coach Mike Dunbar, a former Rocket assistant under Pinkel, also is thought to be a candidate.
A Washington graduate, Dunbar, 51, has a 29-15 record in four seasons at Northern Iowa, a Division I-AA school. He's 83-24-1 overall, including two stints at Central Washington, an NAIA school.
“I would think the Toledo job would be viewed as positively as any in our conference,” said Rick Chryst, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.
James said Liske, an associate athletic director at Washington from 1985-1992, had not contacted him for his advice.
“I think Pete knows everybody I know,” James said. “Once it gets down to the final few names, I might get a call. I think Pete really had a fondness for our program here at Washington. But he also has a good football mind. I am sure he will make a good decision.”
Liske, making his first major hire at UT, appears to prefer a candidate with head coaching experience.
“There's no doubt that experience as a head coach is better than being an assistant because most of it is learning how to organize assistants, being able to organize the entire program, realizing that a lot of your time is no longer coaching the way you used to do before, breaking down and analyzing game plans. A lot of your job now is away from that. That's an adjustment.
“How you manage all those facets is the key. That's what head coaching experience gives you. It's similar, I would say, from going to a high school football player to becoming a college football player, or from college to the pros.
“That doesn't mean it can't be done, but it's just different. You wouldn't ever expect a person who hasn't been a head coach to walk in and understand everything. But as long as they have the capacity to grow and learn, that's much more important.”