Immediately after Turner Gill made his announcement to the staff and team Monday afternoon that he was retiring, Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw and his staff began a national search to find the next head football coach at Liberty.
“We will work on that until we have an announcement,” McCaw said. “There’s very strong interest in the job. I think people recognize that we have tremendous facilities, there is an amazing commitment from President Falwell, and with the resources we have in place this program can continue to thrive as we move forward.”
With the new December signing period that begins on the 19th, McCaw says it is even more paramount to bring this search to a swift closure. His goal is to have an announcement for a new coach by the end of next week or the middle of December. Leading the search will be McCaw, Todd Patulski, Mickey Guridy, and a search firm.
“It’s really important with the vetting of candidates and with the need to move in such an accelerated manner,” McCaw said of using a search firm. “That will help us move in a much more expeditious way.”
Head coaching experienced is preferred to McCaw because there is a track record as to how that coach will perform, but it is not required that Liberty’s next head coach has previous head coaching experience. Someone with FBS experience is important and something that the search team will place a high value on. There are a number of candidates that this team is currently evaluating, but the interview process has not begun yet.
“(We are) looking for someone who is skilled technically and can recruit effectively to the institution,” McCaw stated. “It’s very important that we find someone who bodies and respects the mission, the vision of the Institution and someone who will be effective in terms of marketing and promoting the program.”
After Coach Gill praised his coaching staff and stated he felt there was someone currently on staff who would be an effective head coach, McCaw said Liberty will consider both internal and external candidates.
“My charge to President Falwell is to find the best leader to continue to move this program forward, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Ever since he has been hired, there has been speculation that former Baylor head coach Art Briles would join McCaw at Liberty. McCaw said it’s not important that he be familiar with a coach in order for them to be hired.
“My goal is to hire the best coach to move this program forward.”
Obviously, this will be the first time Liberty has ever conducted a coaching search as an FBS member. Williams Stadium has seen an expansion to 25,000 seats, there’s a new indoor practice facility, and there are plans to expand the current football operations center, all of which has happened since Gill arrived on the scene in 2012.
“There is a very high level of interest,” McCaw said. “The perception of Liberty football is higher than it’s ever been. People recognize the commitment to the program by President Falwell, the resources, the facilities, the momentum and upward trajectory of this program are selling points. There is definitely high interest.”
Speaking less than 24 hours after Gill’s retirement became public, McCaw stated he has already fielded a couple of phone calls with potential candidates.
“I feel a great sense of momentum. I think we earned a lot of respect nationally and have the program positioned for great success as we move forward. We have had a tremendous amount of interest in the position, and we will move swiftly to bring the search to closure.”