The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Orsini’s phone already ringing

Less than 24 hours into the search for SMU’s next football coach, athletic director Steve Orsini’s assistant had to recharge his cell phone because of the high number of phone calls.

It was a good sign for a man who is embarking on what will be the signature hire of his tenure: a new football coach.

“Yeah, that’s what’s encouraging,” Orsini said at a Monday afternoon press conference. “We’re not blowing smoke here. The nation does realize the potential of SMU.”

Orsini said there is a sense of urgency about the hire, yet he wants to get the decision right. There is no timeline or target date for a hire.

“We feel that there will be a lot of coaches that will be attracted to this opportunity,” Orsini said. He and executive associate AD Mike Vaught will handle parts of the search, but there will be a search firm brought in to analyze and help in the process.

“We won’t just sit back and see who all calls us,” Orsini said. “This is a very important decision; I approach this decision as the most important decision I can make for SMU.”

The decision to fire Bennett mid-season allows Orsini to begin the search before any other school in the nation. Bennett was the first coach fired in the 2007 season.

This allows the athletic department to conduct a search openly while the team still finishes out its season.

“It was about timing, it was about getting the best coach available,” Orsini said.

But he knows there are perceptions out there about SMU – that it’s impossible to win because of academic restrictions and the lingering fallout due to the Death Penalty.

When asked if the job was hard, Orsini responded, “Until we show the results on the field, yes, it is.”

He wants a coach who can sell SMU to “blue-chip” athletes, has a proven track record and is someone who can understand the relationship between the department and the university.

Prior head-coaching experience is not a pre-requisite for the job, but it is preferred.

“We want to get the right person,” Orsini said. “The right person could be someone that’s still involved in the NFL and the NFL playoffs, college bowls.”

He believes the pieces of the puzzle on the Hilltop are in place, but the football program is lacking the person who can put the pieces together.

Funding for the new coach is a challenge for the department, which has operated at a deficit for years. Orsini said the department would look for additional sources of funds to honor the current coach’s contracts while also bringing in a new staff.

“We’re willing and, we believe, able to step it up to a higher market value because we want a person that can get the job done,” Orsini said.

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