What qualities does UL want in its new football coach?
Someone he knows? Someone with ties to the program and/or the Acadiana area? Someone with head coaching experience? A proven coordinator or hot assistant coach?
Who is the right fit?
And just what is UL athletic director Bryan Maggard looking for as he searches for the next coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns?
After announcing Sunday that Mark Hudspeth had been relieved of his duties after seven years on the job, and answering a slew of questions on what the future holds for the program, Maggard said he wouldn’t speak on the matter again until he was introducing a new hire.
Before going silent, however, Maggard did offer some insight on just what he’s looking for in a new coach – including what’s important, and what’s not.
He wants someone who can continue the program’s academic success, someone who’ll “develop positive relationships” with his players, someone with “a strong focus on player development” and a “relentless recruiter.”
Maggard said he seeks someone “who will recruit the state of Louisiana very well, and the surrounding area.”
“We know there is a lot of talent in this Southeastern region,” he said.
The last attribute mentioned by Maggard sans prompting: “a proven winner.”
“Somebody who will come from a pedigree of winning traditions,” he said, “and somebody who … will come here and put us in position to compete for and win championships.”
Maggard said no search firm had been hired or search committee formed as a Sunday, and suggested he wasn’t sure if either would be.
But he did suggest that the depth of prior coaching experience “will be considered” for all candidates, and that no hire would be made without UL President Joseph Savoie signing off on it.
“I certainly will keep him (Savoie) abreast on progress, and he and I will consult. We’ll visit on candidates,” Maggard said. “To his credit, he will certainly provide the necessary autonomy to go out and hire the right coach. But I certainly will never do anything without his blessing.”
Savoie was not present for the announcement of Hudspeth's firing.
For Maggard going forward, it really does seem to be all about finding the perfect match.
“Certainly a big part about this culture, or this program, is ‘fit,’ in my opinion,” the first-year Cajuns A.D. said. “Someone who will fit within Cajun Nation, and fit our brand.
“So absolutely: We’ll entertain sitting head coaches, we’ll entertain coordinators, and if there’s an associate or assistant head coach out there that brings the relative experience, we can consider that as well.”
Maggard downplayed the importance of UL’s new coach being someone he already knows.
But he could not stress enough the importance of connecting with Cajun country.
“I certainly wouldn’t prioritize me having a personal relationship with the next head coach,” he said. “But … fit is important. How somebody fits.
“Fit doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve had to live here before, or have been a part of this area; (rather), that they’ll just be able to, again, ‘fit’ that Cajun culture.”
Maggard, a Kansas native and Kansas State graduate, spent about 20 years prior to coming to UL at the University of Missouri.
He had no ties to the Acadiana area beyond his relationship with a special consultant to Savoie who evaluated the UL athletic department, former Missouri athletic director Mike Alden.
“For me, as kind of an outsider, I find that someone who is genuine and relational – that is a personality works very well here,” Maggard said.
“And somebody who will engage with our fan base, our constituents, and somebody who will embrace that aspect of the job when it comes to relating to Cajun Nation.”
As far as football philosophy goes, Maggard – who has never coached the game – does not sound picky.
He also does not seem married to the idea that his hire must be offensive-minded or, for that matter, defensive-minded first and foremost.
Maggard instead said it is going to be “critically important” that “the next head coach will have the ability to bring their expertise, and then build a staff around them that can make sure we’re efficient in all aspects of the game.”
“I’m not an Xs and Os guy,” he said.
“I just want somebody, you know, who can bring in a proven system; somebody who just brings good discipline to the team.
“I’m always going to look for coaches who are demanding but not demeaning, right? And we’re gonna just make sure we have somebody who comes in with a plan, and who can execute that plan.
“But I realize it’s my job as the athletes director to position them to be able to do that, to provide them the resources they need,” Maggard added. “And I truly believe that the University of Louisiana offers fantastic resources and opportunities for our next head football coach.”