When coach Dave Davis announced that he would be stepping down as the head football coach at Ferrum College, a chain reaction of emotions and questions began. Coach Davis, the fifth head coach in the 55 year history of Ferrum football, has reached the point that everyone looks forward to...retirement. A time for hanging up the clipboard, closing the playbook, and opening the next chapter in his life. Coach Davis has had a successful career, and has provided many young men inspiration, and leadership. His selection as the successor to Hank Norton, speaks volumes, and he has maintained the standard that Norton and the coaches before him set. There is no question that Ferrum College is a better place because of the dedication and devotion that coach Davis has exhibited.
While this announcement signaled the end of a wonderful career, it has also signaled the beginning of the questions as to who will be the sixth head coach. While it is easy to offer opinions as to who one thinks should be the next head coach, I will refrain from doing that, and rather offer a little insight as to the process for the selection of the next head coach.
In a letter dated August 16 from Dr. Jennifer Braaten, President of Ferrum College, and Kim Blair, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, it was revealed that the College would be forming a search committee in the next few months. This committee will be tasked with the selection of a new head coach.
How will this work? This is pure speculation on my part, but I see it working something like this: First, there will have to be criteria that the new coach must meet.
Experience- The candidate should have already been a head coach with a successful record, or an assistant coach in college. As this is a Division III program, it is not likely that there will be much interest from DI schools, but it is quite possible that assistant coaches at the DII and DIII levels will be interested.
Philosophy- Is this coach understanding that the student athlete is a student first and an athlete second? Winning, while important, cannot take the place of the academic challenges that players will face.
Recruiting experience- Has this person been actively involved in recruiting, and can they represent the College in a positive, and honest manner while following NCAA recruiting guidelines? Can this person implement recruiting strategies that will bring a high quality student athlete to Ferrum?
Budgeting and Expense Management- The candidate must realize that while this program has a history of success, it is a Division III private college. It is not blessed with an endless cash flow from donors and alumni. The person will have to assess the condition of equipment, and facilities, and make the best purchases to support the success of the program within budgetary guidelines.
These are some of the areas that the search committee may consider in the selection process. It is also important to understand that DIII coaches do not usually garner a huge salary. They pretty much do their job for the love of the game, and to foster a program that the student athlete will be proud to participate in. The likely salary limitations will limit the applicant pool. I am not expecting Joe Paterno to suddenly leave Penn State to come to Ferrum, or for Bobby Bowden to come out of retirement for the job. No it will probably attract applicants looking to take their first college head coaching job.
It will be a challenge for the selection committee. There will possibly be a nationwide recruiting campaign for a coach, and the field of interested applicants will be culled down to a select few for interviews. from there a round of second interviews will likely be the final step to the selection process. I would expect that this process will begin shortly after the end of the season, and that an announcement will be made in the early spring of 2011. It is an important process that will be dealt with hoping to achieve the best result for Ferrum College football.