Houston's Sumlin has old ties with Woolard
First, to preface this, I'm not saying that any contact has been made, or that I can confirm any interest from either side, but in researching the potential candidates to be USF's next head football coach, few has as many connections to those making the hire for the Bulls as Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
We've mentioned that the last football hire USF athletic director Doug Woolard was involved in was Washington State's hiring of Mike Price in 1989, when Woolard was the associate athletic director there. Sumlin, as it turns out, was a graduate assistant on Price's staff his first two seasons there before moving to full-time jobs at Wyoming and Minnesota.
How well would Woolard remember a young graduate assistant from 20 years ago? It's reasonable to think he's followed Sumlin's career more closely than other potential hires he's never crossed paths with.
Sumlin's greatest successes came at Oklahoma, where he spent five years as an assistant under Bob Stoops, first as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator, then two as co-offensive coordinator. The Oklahoma years give him a relevance with Lee Roy Selmon, who is assisting Woolard on the search and played for the Sooners before his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Bucs. Again, Selmon may not know all the assistants at his alma mater, but there are certainly people at Oklahoma that he trusts and can call to get their opinion of Sumlin.
And Sumlin's current job at Houston gives him a tie to USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis, who is helping Woolard with the search and spent 12 years working at Houston, from 1985-96. Again, it's just a common bond, but it stands to reason that McGillis has followed Houston's program more closely than he has other schools where he hasn't worked. All this doesn't say Sumlin is the guy, but it shows that of the non-BCS head coaches mentioned for USF's job, he's probably the candidate the people making the hire know best of all, and familiarity is a strong asset in a coaching search.
Lots more to come in uncovering names in this search -- I've had lots of calls with people interested in the job, but not wanting to comment on the record.
Of the internal candidates from Jim Leavitt's staff in position to interview for the job, offensive coordinator Mike Canales was the most open in showing his interest for the promotion. Canales was part of USF's original staff, then returned for his current stint running the Bulls offense.
"A third of my career has been here," Canales said. "I feel like I'm connected to this program probably more than anybody, other than (Leavitt). I've watched this program go from the ground up to where it is now. I've interviewed for other head coaching positions, and it's kind of the time for me (to become a head coach). I think I'm qualified. I've been in the National Football League, I've been a coordinator in major conferences. I just feel like it's time."
Canales, and other top USF assistants like interim coach Carl Franks and defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, face an unique challenge as part of Leavitt's staff. How much value will the administration on the continuity of hiring a current assistant? Will they want more of a clean break from Leavitt's staff?
"The kids know who I am. They trust me," Canales said. "They know my philosophy, the type of person I am. I'm a lot of a player's coach, like Herm Edwards. I've been around some very successful people: LaVell Edwards, Norm Chow, a year with Mike Holmgren, Herm Edwards, Chuck Amato and the tree he's come from with Bobby Bowden. My philosophy has come from taking a little bit from each of those men I've worked with. To me, it's logical."