Schuckman: WIU AD takes right approach to finding new coach

Posted: Dec. 7, 2012 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 18, 2013 2:15 am

MACOMB, Ill. -- Tim Van Alstine didn't act in haste when he fired Western Illinois University football coach Mark Hendrickson 19 days ago.

Nor is he moving hastily in hiring Hendrickson's replacement.

Don't take that as an athletic director who is simply indifferent. Van Alstine is hardly that. He's extremely cognizant of how important this hire is and the long- and short-term ramifications it could have.

Although Van Alstine chose to wait until Thursday to publicly address the decision or the process, he was very clear on one thing.

No one wants to screw this up.

"It is a big hire. It's not lost upon me, it's not lost upon the university administration that this is a significant hire," Van Alstine said. "Football is one of our signature programs, and as a result of that, it lends itself to having a significant amount of attention paid to this."

Because of that, Van Alstine is attempting to stay fluid in his pursuit.

He expects to bring a handful of candidates to campus for formal interviews. How many exactly will that be? Well, Van Alstine can't say. He figures to stay within the typical range of three to five, but if the candidate pool is incredibly deep, he'll adjust. Currently, the search committee has received approximately 60 resumes with some still trickling in.

It keeps them in line to have a new coach in place by the target date of Dec. 19.

Where that coach comes from will be interesting, considering Van Alstine said the search is not limited to NCAA Division I schools.

"We would like to have somebody who has experience at a similarly positioned institution," he said.

But he has not made that a prerequisite. Nor is there a prerequisite the candidates must have experience as the head coach. In other words, offensive and defensive coordinators are welcome to apply.

"It is wide open," Van Alstine said.

Not totally. There is one requirement interested candidates must meet.

"We want a proven winner. We want somebody who has had previous success as a coach," Van Alstine said. "We want someone who is a proven winner who can come in with credentials right now that identify them as a winner."

He also wants energy, enthusiasm and charisma.

"I want an up-and-comer," Van Alstine said. "I want someone who is hungry ... as long as they're a proven winner."

It's clear winning matters. Truthfully, it's all that matters.

"We're not in a position to take a chance either," Van Alstine said.

There's too much at stake.

The ongoing facility improvements have turned Hanson Field into one of the better Missouri Valley Football Conference sites, although the progress needs to move forward.

"You have to be living under a rock if you didn't know we have to do something with the west side of the stadium," Van Alstine said.

That takes money, and asking boosters to fund a program that has won just five games over the last two seasons is a tough chore. Getting them to buy into a new regime that doesn't have a winning pedigree would be even tougher.

Actually, it would be foolish. Acting hastily in any decision might have made Van Alstine seem foolish.

And this is no time for tomfoolery.




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