June Jones stepped down as SMU’s head football coach on Sept. 8. A month later, Rick Hart detailed the university’s plan to replace Jones.
Hart wrote a letter to the Mustangs’ fan base, which was published Wednesday on the school’s official website.
Here are the pertinent excerpts to the school’s four-point plan to find a new head coach:
First, we have engaged Todd Turner, President and Founder of Collegiate Sports Associates and former AD at UConn, NC State, Vanderbilt and Washington, to assist us with certain aspects of the search process. … He will make initial contact with targeted coaches, assessing potential interest and fit for the position, as well as helping with background checks and other processes.
Second, the Board of Trustees Athletics Committee will serve a valuable role as the primary advisory group as we prepare to identify and recruit the next head football coach at SMU. The Athletics Committee met on Monday to refine and confirm certain elements of the process, such as our case statement, position description and head coach profile. They also provided feedback regarding our expectations in key areas, such as academics, civility, competitiveness, and recruiting.
Third, we are seeking input from constituents beyond members of the Athletics Committee, such as the Athletics Council, Circle of Champions, Mustang Club Board, Lettermen’s Association (and former football players), Deans, the Texas High School Coaches’ Association, Ticket Holders and Student-Athletes. We want to make sure we are informed as we prepare to identify specific candidates.
Finally, a small search committee has been formed consisting of representatives from the Board of Trustees, Athletics Committee, Athletics Council, Faculty and Athletics Department leadership. This group will work with me to evaluate candidates and determine our top targets in alignment with our agreed-upon profile and standards shaped by our interactions with the various stakeholders and access to data as outlined herein.
Hart also designated this month as the prime opportunity to identify potential candidates and reach out to them if an opportunity presents itself. The athletic director didn’t provide a timetable for when a hire could actually occur.
There shouldn’t be a shortage of candidates, though.
The program reportedly called former Texas head coach Mack Brown, while Brown considers whether or not he wants to return to coaching. Former Ole Miss (and Arkansas and Boise State) head coach Houston Nutt is also interested. Former Texas offensive coordinator and quarterback Major Applewhite already applied for the position. And a new name has been linked to the program:
Morris is a legend in the state of Texas after coaching at the high school level for 16 years with a 169-38 record and back-to-back undefeated state championships.
Morris is now one of college football’s highest paid coordinators, and one of the top assistants primed for a head coaching job. Clemson’s offensive coordinator refrained from taking any other positions in recent years, but a return to his home state could be exactly the type of situation Morris is searching for.
SMU could also be used as a stepping stone for a coach like Morris, who doesn’t have head coaching experience at the major college level but still has goals of leading a top program.
It won’t hurt Hart to call and gauge Morris’ interest. The worst that can happen is the talented offensive coordinator decides he’s not interested.