Before Saturday's win over the Memphis Tigers, UConn Huskies AD Warde Manuel met with the media to detail how he plans to handle the coaching search for the UConn football team.
Manuel wouldn't name names as to whom he was interested in nor would he even say if interim head coach T.J. Weist was a candidate. One thing we do know about that is Weist wants the permanent gig.
"I couldn't want it anything more in my life besides my family." said Weist.
The pair met on Sunday but when asked the details during his postgame conference call, Weist declined to elaborate saying it was up to Manuel.
"I’ll let Warde handle that," Weist said. "I talked to Warde this morning (Sunday), we had conversations. He really didn’t give me a timeline. He said he is going to interview some people and we will talk some but I will let Warde handle how he wants to handle it."
Manuel was actually there sit it on team meetings and explain the coaching search process to the players as well.
Besides Weist, if he even is a candidate, we know that Manuel is interested in at least two other coaches, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Ball State head coach Pete Lembo.
CBSSports.com reported on Sunday that UConn had requested permission from Michigan State to talk with Narduzzi and it was later confirmed by Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio when he met with the media to talk about their Rose Bowl bid.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported by Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com that Manuel is in Atlanta interviewing Lembo. He also reports that Lembo is possibly the front runner for the Wake Forest job.
If it comes down to a bidding war, there is money to pay head coach but it'll be within reason.
I'm going to be able to pay what I believe somebody's worth as the head coach at the University of Connecticut," said Manuel. "What that is and how that'll turn out, I don't know but I don't step into this feeling like I'm at a deficit because my hands are tied on what I can pay. "
"Now you all have seen USA Today, this is not a Nick Saban situation. I don't want you writing, `Well Warde said there is unlimited money', no there's not. But like we do with any job, with any position, you look at someone's experience and what they're making now, what the marketplace is, all that data I do have and we won't in my opinion lose somebody because we're out of balance with the marketplace."
So what is Manuel looking for in a head coach.
"I'm looking for the best coach that's the best fit for UConn and the best person that we can have to lead us to championship success again."
Manuel hasn't set a timetable on when he'll name a coach. As we know, he'll be competing with other schools for the same candidates but he isn't worried about that because he believes his candidate pool is deep.
"I know where we are now with candidates that may overlap, but the candidate pool is going to be the candidate pool that we have when I sit down with people," Manuel said. "I'm not interested in playing back and forth with people, you make a choice, here's what I have to offer, this is what the University of Connecticut has to offer, and people make the decisions they make. So I'm so pleased with where we are in the pool of candidates that I have that if one or two are not available, it is what it is at this point."
Although they'll be a recruiting dead period coming up, I fully expect Manuel to make his decision in the not-so-distant future. The Huskies have some decent recruits lined up and you'd like to keep them. Plus you don't know who the new coach could bring in with him as far as recruits.
Manuel insists that this is not a rebuilding job that he'll find a coach that'll come in and win. The pieces are there. They'll need to replace 4/5 of the offensive line and some of the defense. But they're strong at the skill positions.
With the right coach, there's no telling how UConn will do next year.
Stay tuned folks. Like the baseball hot stove, UConn's coaching search is starting to get hot.
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photo credit: ian bethune - sox & dawgs