SACKVILLE, N.B. – It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time for Mount Allison University to name a new head coach and athletic director Pierre Arsenault is still declining to set a time frame when such an announcement could take place.
Obviously, the successful applicant for the position – and there are many hopefuls – must possess specific attributes, especially in light of the culture that has been developed over the past 10 years.
Not only must such an individual bring a tool kit containing in-depth knowledge of the game of football but they must have developed over the years a wide-ranging network for recruiting purposes. Also in that kit must be an innate ability to develop and foster team unity, a genuine interest in each and every player on the roster and an honesty that refuses to bend even in the most trying of circumstances. And, of course, 60-hour work weeks.
These are a few of the demands brought about due to the highly admired culture which highlights PRIDE.
Since the local community takes such an interest in football – the Titans may come first but the Mounties have to be a close second – there is a keen interest in keeping abreast of the procedure used in naming a new football boss.
Your columnist is approached on a daily basis as to how things are moving, but Arsenault has been tight lipped other than to say, following a short break following the resignation of Scott Brady, that applications are arriving on his desk on an almost daily basis.
But finding the ideal person for the role definitely does not come easily and he said last week that an interview and selection committee has been chosen. This means that the group will review the applicants, shorten the list to no more than three and have them in for interviews. The one finally recommended would then have his name submitted to the human resources department for confirmation.
Several concerned residents have made specific proposals – the most common name coming forward in this way is that of Scott O’Neal, the man who has become a “legend” with the Titans.
O’Neal is definitely football knowledgeable and could easily become a valuable assistant with the Mounties if he so chose. He can work magic with young men as seen by what has taken place over the past 4-5 years. However, recruiting the best and brightest student-athletes is a number one requirement of a head coach and he would not have that asset in his tool kit.
Scott O’Neal is definitely honing his skills in several ways – by study and through his involvement with the U16 Team Canada team – and could become a prize catch for some team in the future. But for the moment he is quite happy with his two professions – daily job and coaching.
With teams like Western or McMaster, the duties of the head coach are cut back in some areas. With a staff of upwards of 20 knowledgeable coaches, he is no longer required to develop defensive and offensive playbooks and even take the field for practices on a regular basis. The assistants have specific areas of expertise and go about their duties without supervision.
Replacing head coaches at Mount Allison has been a relatively simple process over the past few. Steve Lalonde moved up to take command following the resignation of Scott Fawcett, Kelly Jeffrey simply changed chairs when Lalonde left and the Brady moved next door when Jeffrey moved to become special teams coordinator with the Toronto Argonauts.
At the beginning of the process Arsenault said none of the former head coaches would return, although it was felt in some quarters that Jeffrey has the tools to quickly heal any wounds that may have resulted in the decision.
One concern is that the decision by Brady to leave after just two years will not be a re-beginning of the constant whirl of head coaches coming and going. Beginning in 1996 the team was directed, in order, by Marc Loranger, John MacNeil, Gordon Grace, Rob Kitchen, Peter Comeau and Scott Fawcett until 2004 – six coaches in just eight years.
And so the athletic director must receive some assurance that the revolving door will not become a way of life for the Mounties – instead what is required is stability if the team is to move upward to the next plateau. May that new person possess the patience of Job and the talents of a Belichuk.