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Clock's not ticking on Pirates' coach search

Some pulled their names out of consideration because of the salary. Others decided they weren't interested because the team has struggled the past two years.

But nine candidates for the Crystal River football job have interviewed, and the selection committee expects to speak with at least three more prospective coaches this week.

The committee's mission: to find the best possible fit.

"I know (athletic director Earl) Bramlett just wants to make sure we get the right guy," said assistant principal Dale Johns, the committee's senior administrator. "If it takes a few more weeks, it will take a few weeks. We're not going to pick somebody just to fill the spot.

The committee - Bramlett, Johns, former football coach Jere Defoor, parent Donna Lanier and football player Kevin Spivey - met for 40 minutes Tuesday morning to decide whether to continue the interviewing process.

Though one of the nine candidates already interviewed may get the job, the group decided to continue vetting possible coaches, Bramlett said. Former NFL receiver Ernie Mills, Citrus assistant Rick Keeran and Crystal River assistant Randy Owens are among those who have interviewed.

"The consensus was we wanted to interview more people," he said. "We want to get the right one."

Crystal River received about 70 resumes, but Johns said school officials only seriously considered about 40. Some candidates submitted incomplete applications and others were not certified to teach.

The school identified about 20 candidates to interview, but at least five chose not to come or canceled their visits, Johns said.

Bramlett said he is honest with the candidates before they pay to travel to Citrus County. That means informing them about the pay (a $3,530 supplment in addition to teaching salary) and about the squad's recent onfield troubles.

Crystal River was 4-16 the past two seasons under Craig Frederick.

"I don't want them to drive 1,000 miles and not know how things stand," Bramlett said.

Bramlett's honesty has caused some candidates to change their minds, but no one at Crystal River seems surprised about the development.

"A lot of times, coaches will put out feelers wherever there are jobs," said Johns, explaining the coaches don't evaluate the positions until after they're asked to interview.

The committee still expects the new coach to be in place in May for spring practice, and Bramlett said a decision could be made by the end of February.

Bramlett and Johns agree the school has not had trouble attracting qualified candidates to Crystal River. A few are even driving to Florida from northern states.

"Some of these folks just want to get out of that weather," Johns said with a laugh. "They're tired of it. They just want to move to Florida."

Brian Sumers can be reached at bsumers@sptimes.com or 564-3628.

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