Interim coach Brian Wright leads the Owls into the stadium for Saturday's contest against New Mexico St. FAU AD Pat Chun said Wright is still considered a candidate for the full time job.(OwlAccess.com photo)
FAU AD Pat Chun tells supporters he would like to name the Owls' next football coach by Dec. 8, giving the coach about a week to recruit before the NCAA dead period, and reiterates that interim coach Brian Wright is still among the candidates.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic hopes to have the next Owls' head coach in place by Dec. 8 and interim coach Brian Wright remains among the candidates, FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun told a group of supporters on Monday.
Sources present when Chun met with Owl Scholarship Fund supporters on Monday said Chun wants a coach in place on that date in order to allow him to get started on recruiting prior to the NCAA's recently imposed dead period that begins Dec. 16.
Chun began the search for a head coach following the Oct. 30 abrupt resignation of Carl Pelini amid illegal drug use accusations. He named offensive coordinator Brian Wright interim coach and since then Wright has led the Owls to three consecutive victories.
If Wright guides FAU to a fourth consecutive victory on Friday against FIU, the Owls will become bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.
Should the Owls secure a bowl bid – far from a certainty even if the Owls become bowl eligible – Chun's Dec. 8 deadline would come prior to the Owls' bowl game.
Chun did not immediately respond to an inteview request.
The Owls' uptick under Wright has made the coaching position more attractive. Chun has hired a headhunter organization to help search for candidates. He told the group that two candidates with head coaching experience have expressed interest in the position.
Chun didn't name names, be he did refute a media report that he flew to Ohio to interview Ohio St. defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, going so far as to say the reporter who wrote the story even called Chun - who was in Indianapolis at an NCAA meeting at the the time he was reportedly in Ohio - to learn his location. Chun said he told the reporter he was in Indianapolis, but Chun said the reporter replied that he didn't believe him.
Chun told the crowd he did contact two people as part of the coaching search – current Ohio St. coach Urban Meyer and former Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas coach George Smith, who turned Aquinas into a national power before stepping down. Smith is currently the athletic director at Aquinas. Both conversations, Chun said, centered around recruiting in Florida, which made it especially problematic to Chun when he needed to give Smith directions to campus.
Recruiting ties in South Florida is one quality Chun is looking for in his coach. Being a family man and a father figure are among the others.
While the salary could be a factor prohibiting the cash-strapped Owls from landing the coach they want, Chun believes he will be able to land a coach for a sum in the mid six-figure range per year. Pelini was set to make nearly $500,000 this season.