I come neither to praise DeLoss Dodds, nor to bury him. Rumors abound about his moment-to-moment status, how he'll be painted in the upcoming Bev Kearney revelations should Texas not settle, and exactly when he'll hand off active management of Athletic Director duties. But the confluence of observable fact (we blow, badly, in the three major Men's sports) and rumor (that the people with $ have actually, finally had enough of those particular facts) make it a strong, strong bet that by 1/1/14 at the latest we'll have a new man (sorry, Ms. Plonsky) in charge of the operation.
But who's it going to be?
There's been conjecture about specific candidates, and to date much of it has centered around their relationships with current power players at Texas, certain potential football coaching candidates, or both.
I'm interested in taking a more holistic view, and focusing on some broader selection criteria. Texas' next football coach may be our new AD's first major decision, and could potentially be the most important. But he'll face a wealth of other decisions, challenges and opportunities in his tenure that could have a greater cumulative impact on the next 20 years of Texas athletics.
To get at where each candidate's head is at, these are the questions I'd include in every interview:
1) What is your process for evaluating potential coaching candidates in any sport? If you had to force rank the importance of a candidate's:
- Won/Loss Record
- Conference Championship Record
- Observable processes for building and leading his team
- Character and integrity
- Caliber/prestige of program(s) coached
how would you order them and why? Do you think the circumstances of coaching at Texas change the order of importance of some of those criteria?
2) We want you to understand that you will have autonomy in your role, but it's naive not to recognize that Texas is a program with many powerful and influential voices and influencers - many of whom have made tremendously valuable contributions in the past and who can do so in the future. It's also naive not to recognize that the selection of Texas' next head football coach of major concern to these folks. How do you envision bringing these influencers together and building consensus around your candidate criteria, the management of the search process, and your own ultimate top choice(s) for the position?
3) What is your process for evaluating a current coach's performance? What factors do you include in setting performance criteria for each team sport? What type of guidance do you feel is appropriate for you to offer coaches who are falling short of those criteria? What factors would you consider when deciding whether or not a struggling coach would be capable of getting his team back to an appropriate standard of play?
4) Let's set aside the the particular motivations for the "Winning With Integrity" banners appearing during K-State week and recognize that Texas will always strive to uphold a strong standard of ethics in all of its athletic programs. Do you think this standard is followed by other programs that key competitors for talent? Do you think a disparity in those standards can lead to meaningful disadvantages in acquiring championship-caliber talent? Do you think that under the NCAA's stewardship of college athletics, there is a reasonable expectation that programs with dubious ethics face any real incentive to change? And if your answers to those questions lead to the conclusion that Texas faces material disadvantage for the forseeable future, what is an appropriate strategy for an institution of our power and prestige?
5) What is your opinion of the future of the Big XII Conference? Specifically, do you believe that the conference currently does, or in the future could, inhibit Texas' ability to achieve non-conference related performance standards? What are your criteria for an ideal conference affiliation for Texas? Do you have thoughts on Texas' ideal affiliations and alignments and how to get there - particularly thoughts that might dovetail with your answer to Question 4?
I know the answers that I'd like to hear from my ideal candidate, but I'm interested to hear yours - as well as any other questions that you think should be part of the process.