BOONE — This is a time that Appalachian State Athletic Director Doug Gillin has been preparing for since 2015.
That was when the Mountaineers went 11-2 and won a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship and the Camellia Bowl for the first time. Three years later, Gillin is conducting a search to find a new head football coach to replace Scott Satterfield, who was hired to coach football at Louisville Dec. 4.
“When you go 11-2 and then 10-3 and 9-4 and have a chance to go 11-2, you know the phone is going to ring one day,” Gillin said. “We’ve been prepared. We’ve had a running list of candidates since 2015 and we’ve been weekly looking over our list. This has been an ongoing process that you always have to be prepared for.”
Gillin also said there is no deadline for selecting a coach, but he wants to conduct an efficient search. The early signing date for the prep class of 2019 is Dec. 19, but Gillin said the Mountaineers don’t have a lot of scholarships available, so the need to have a coach in place by then is not crucial.
“I think it’s an open timetable,” Gillin said. “But I think that as much as the early signing period is important for us, we are looking at a small class this year. The thing that drives me to make sure we do it as efficiently as possible is our student-athletes who are here.”
Gillin is also aware that this is the biggest hire he has had to make since becoming athletic director at App State in 2015. He is happy that Appalachian State Chancellor Sheri Everts has put her trust in Gillin to make the hire.
“Certainly there is a lot of responsibility with this hire,” Gillin said. “I want to make sure we hire somebody that represents Appalachian the right way, the way all of our staff, alumni and fans would be proud of. That probably raises the level of responsibility and my awareness to what this position means not just to our athletic program, but to our university.”
Gillin is in a unique position in that the Mountaineers are looking for a new coach for just the second time since Jerry Moore was hired to take over the program in 1989.
Moore was the head coach of the Mountaineers for the next 24 years until his contract was not renewed.
Satterfield was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach, and guided the Mountaineers program for six seasons.
Gillin said he would conduct a national search. There is no shortage of available candidates available to Gillin who have ties to Appalachian State, but he did not name any specific candidates under consideration.
“We want somebody who has experience recruiting in our blueprint,” Gillin said. “Somebody who obviously has leadership and has shown leadership capabilities and somebody who will be engaged in our community, somebody who will be a mentor and grow young men for life after football.”
Gillin has an idea of what type of head football coach he wants to have lead the Mountaineers. Football is only part of it.
It’s an important part of it, but Gillin wants the new coach to be aware of more than just winning football games. He wants a coach that stresses winning in the classroom and in the community.
“We have our set of criteria,” Gillin said. “We want somebody that is going to follow our core values of academics first, student aptitude second and somebody who has our student-athletes be socially responsible in the community. Obviously we want somebody with a history of success competitively and somebody who takes the student-athlete’s health and wellbeing at the forefront.”
Of course, Gillin wants somebody who can win football games. Gillin is taking the lead on hiring a new coach with help from other members of the athletic department.
It wouldn’t hurt that the right candidate has an idea of the systems that App State uses. The Mountaineers use a spread offense with an emphasis on running the football and balancing that with an efficient passing attack.
Appalachian State uses a defensive system that has a 3-4 front with an emphasis on speed.
“We’re not looking for anybody specific on both sides of the ball,” Gillin said. “We are looking for somebody who runs an offense and defense similar to ours.”