The required posting period for the official job ended Tuesday, and athletic director Vaughn Williams said the interview process is about to begin.
“We have not started the formal interviewing process,” Williams said, “but our short list of candidates is formulating very quickly. We hope to name the new coach by the end of March.”
Williams said he has received more than 100 resumes, and that number continues to grow daily. He said the quality of coaches — in addition to quantity — is something that has him looking forward to the interviews.
“The process has been great,” Williams said. “It’s been exciting to be a part of it, and I’m excited about potential candidates.”
When Kennesaw State made its formal announcement last month that football would be coming to the campus in 2015, Williams laid down the criteria he was looking for in a head coach.
“My preference will be someone from Georgia — a native son that has done good work and works well with the student-athletes,” he said at the time.
Williams reiterated those beliefs, saying that the short list has those kinds of candidates.
Likely candidates that meet those criteria are:
* Current Georgia Tech defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum, a Marietta native and former Marietta High School player, who was head coach for seven years at Middle Tennessee State.
* Brian VanGorder, who was the defensive coordinator at Auburn under Gene Chizik last season. He has also spent time at Georgia and with the Atlanta Falcons as an assistant. He was also head coach for Georgia Southern in 2006, though the Eagles went a program-worst 3-8.
Both have been likely candidates from the beginning and here are two new names to consider:
* Sources close to the athletic department told the Marietta Daily Journal that Giff Smith, a Mableton native who went to Pebblebrook High School, is being considered.
Smith, part of three national-championship teams as a player at Georgia Southern, spent the last three seasons as the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills under former Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, before Gailey was fired after the season. Smith also spent three years as the associate head coach at Tulane before becoming Georgia Tech’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator under Gailey and Paul Johnson from 2004-09.
* David Dean, who led Division II Valdosta State to its second national championship under his tenure in 2012, has also entered the conversation.
The Valdosta Daily Times has downplayed KSU’s interest, but other publications have listed the former Georgia Tech walk-on as someone who has Williams’ attention.
Dean began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Yellow Jackets before going to Valdosta State as wide receivers coach. He left Valdosta for West Georgia, where stayed as an assistant from 1992-99, and then returned to the Blazers in 2000 and became the head coach in 2007.
Dean talked to the Daily Times late last week about the potential position.
“I have not interviewed. I have not done anything at Kennesaw State,” Dean said. “It is all rumors. Any time a job comes open, there are always people that say this guy is going to get it or that guy. I can tell you this — I haven’t been up there, I haven’t been on campus, I haven’t talked with the (athletic director).
Williams said that during the process of finding a coach, he has used every contact he has to help guide him toward a final decision, including talking with connections at Utah, Connecticut, Boston College and Toledo — the other football-playing universities Williams has worked at.
“I’ve used every network to football minds that I have,” he said. “It’s best if you use those gifts and things around you.”
One of those in his network has also been former Georgia athletic director and football coach Vince Dooley. Dooley headed the 33-person football exploratory committee for Kennesaw State and Williams said Dooley has been an invaluable resource in this situation.
NOTE: The KSU athletic department launched its football website Monday at KennesawStateFootball.com.
The website informs fans with a step-by-step process on how to purchase tickets and get involved in its new priority points system.
The points system, which is similar to ticketing programs other universities have used, will help loyal donors and supporters of the Owls program make sure they get the tickets they want and need.
Kennesaw State will begin playing football in 2015 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.