Imagine being Doug Woolard.
Imagine you will be late for dinner. For the next month or so.
Imagine the clutter on your desk as the guy from FedEx keeps dumping resumes upon it. Imagine a day-planner that doesn't have enough room for entries. Imagine boosters sending you flowers, steaks and poster-sized photos of Jim Leavitt.
This is what it is like to be an athletic director who has a job to give to somebody. There is always a coach on the phone, and an agent on hold, and someone at the door to tell you about the latest Internet guesswork. It is like holding up a $100 bill at the marketplace and bracing yourself for the rush of the vendors.
If you are Woolard, where do you start this quest for a new football coach? At the young-and-hungry line? At the recycled coach store? At the table of those rejected by Tennessee? Do you want old school? New energy? An offensive guru? A defensive genius? Do you conduct a nationwide search? And if so, can it at least be this nation?
Where do you start? If you follow the noise, you start with this: Who has Willie Taggart's telephone number?
Let's be honest. Most of us have no idea if Taggart is the proper fit. Not yet. But he's the hot name, and he has the local recruiting connections that former coach Skip Holtz never seemed to establish. So why not start with him? He's worth a conversation.
Just a thought, but USF might want to be quick about it. Taggart's name has been floated at Purdue. Soon, I suspect, it will be mentioned at Cincinnati.
So why would Taggart come? One, it's near home for the Palmetto native. Two, USF is a job where a coach can build a resume. The team is bad enough to make you look good if you turn things around, and the schedule in the faded Big East isn't exactly imposing. Four good years can give a good coach 38 victories and a world of options.
After that, the second phone call is easy. You don't even have to dial an area code.
At some point, Woolard would be wise to gather as much information as he could about Bucs adviser Butch Davis.
The Bulls would be lucky to have a chance to hire a coach with as good a resume as that of Davis, who won two Super Bowl rings as the defensive coordinator at Dallas. Davis was 51-20 at the University of Miami, and his 2000 team should have had a shot at the national title. Best of all, Davis has said he wants another shot at coaching.
Of course, there is always a risk to hiring a coach whose school had a scandal while he was there. That's true of Bobby Petrino, and of Mike Leach and, frankly, of Davis.
It's worth repeating. Davis was not implicated by the school, the NCAA or the North Carolina attorney general. So should the academic scandal at North Carolina prevent Davis from getting the job? No.
What it should require is that Woolard — who cares deeply about academics — do research as to what happened and why. If he can find a way to be comfortable with what happened there, then Davis should be near the top of candidates. At this point, USF and Davis might be each other's best chance at a clean slate.
After that, who should Woolard pursue? Tommy Bowden? Terry Bowden? Jeff Bowden?
I know, I know. You are probably a little weary of second-generation coaches. You don't want another Holtz or the best available Bowden or a Shula or any nearby Rockne.
That said, do you remember that Tommy was a pretty good coach when he was at Clemson? He was 41 games above .500, and he had eight consecutive winning seasons. (Terry, on the other hand, was 1-11 at Akron.) Tommy might be worth a conversation, too.
Who else? Sonny Dykes? It sounds as if he's headed to Cal. Gene Chizik or Derek Dooley? Their failures are still fresh. Calvin Magee or Mike Canales? Great assistants for USF, but neither has been a head coach. Houston Nutt? Does he sound like a fit?
Look, these searches don't last long. Arkansas has hired Bret Bielema and Auburn has hired Gus Malzahn and Boston College has hired Steve Addazio and N.C. State has hired Dave Doeren. Doesn't matter. None of those guys seemed to fit here.
Taggart fits. Davis fits. Tommy Bowden might fit.
Whoever it is, they need to be hungry, and they need to be driven, and they need to be dedicated to pulling a program out of the mud.
Imagine being Doug Woolard.
Imagine the clock ticking.
Imagine the impatience outside the office. Imagine the pressure of making the right decision … this time. Imagine all of the possibilities … including winning.
Most of all, imagine touchdowns and titles. After all, isn't that what this is all about?
Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.