Roadrunner fans grew a bit uneasy today as the UTSA coaching search fell quiet.
Two of the assumed leading candidates, David Bailiff and Curtis Looper, both dropped out of the race as they elected to remain at their current positions.
While it always felt like a major stretch that UTSA would be able to poach Bailiff away from a divisional rival, Luper was a very attainable and highly interested candidate. I can confirm a report from Inside Roadrunner Sports that Luper did not feel comfortable with pressure from UTSA to retain the Roadrunners' current coaching staff.
While I believe that the remaining coaches on UTSA's staff are quality coaches, I would scoff at UTSA's proposition as well if I were a candidate. A head coach needs to know that he can hire guys that can coach his system and preach the necessary culture. Agreeing to a job without having staff control is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure as a first-time head coach.
With that being said, I doubt UTSA would place the same limitation on every candidate. If David Bailiff or Mel Tucker would have shown legitimate interest in the job I have no doubt that UTSA would have allowed a more-experienced candidate to hire staff members at their heart's desire.
In other news, folks that attended the American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio this week have told me that they feel UTSA is squandering a great opportunity with the convention happening to fall in chronological accord with UTSA's coaching search. Even with interested candidates just a few miles away from campus, UTSA and its search firm still elected to conduct 30 minute phone interviews with candidates this week instead of meeting with them face to face.
Given that Larry Coker was fired a week ago from today I feel like the search firm could have realistically screened the candidate pool with phone interviews last week in order to conduct face-to-face interviews while so many candidates were in San Antonio for the convention. Even a guy the firm was on the fence about should have been given a chance to interview in person as opposed to through the phone if they were a 15 minute Uber ride from campus. At this time I am not aware of any candidate that has interviewed in person.
Speaking of phone interviews, I have learned of another coach to receive a phone interview with UTSA.
While I know that former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart interviewed with UTSA's search firm, I'm unsure of his interest level in the job.
A San Diego native, Stewart played cornerback and safety at Northern Arizona. After his graduation he coached secondaries at various colleges before moving to the NFL. He spent two years with the Houston Texans and two years with the San Diego Chargers before joining the Dallas Cowboys' staff as defensive coordinator.
After being fired in Dallas and coaching in Philadelphia for a year, Stewart would return to the college game.
Stewart served two years as the Houston Cougars defensive coordinator before leaving for the same job at Maryland. Stewart is currently working at Nebraska as a defensive backs coach where he is the second-highest paid defensive backs coach in the nation ($400,000).
UTSA's interest in Stewart makes a lot of sense. He has the coordinator experience that UTSA is looking for, local ties thanks to his time coaching in Texas, and would be attainable from a salary perspective.
If I hear of Stewart continuing to pursue the UTSA job I'll follow up but for now my gut is telling me that UTSA is going to end up hiring someone completely off the radar at this time.