Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman talked to the media for about 20 minutes Monday about the firing of football coach Dave Christensen Sunday, and the process of finding a new coach.
Here are some notes and quotes from his news conference:
–Burman said he didn’t know until Sunday that he would fire Christensen, but also looked at the last four or five games and how the team competed. UW lost five of its last six games and lost four of them by between 28 and 38 points.
–Burman said as of now he won’t hire a search firm, and “likely won’t even bring candidates on campus” for interviews. He said there won’t be an official search committee, but will draw help and feedback from staff members in the athletics department. Burman also said he has reached out to former UW coaches and administrators who “we trust,” such as former football coach Joe Tiller.
–Burman said it would be ideal for the next coach to have college head coaching experience, but it won’t be a “deal-killer” if that’s not the case.
–Burman on hiring a coach and a staff that are strong with player development: “It’s essential. At Wyoming that has to be your focus. You ahve to be very good at it. You have got to have a record of developing young people. We are not going to get four or five-star kids that are physically and mentally developed and ready to play initially very often.”
–Burman said he plans to have each candidate he interviews read the outside sports consultant report on UW football and men’s basketball — the one ordered by former school president Robert Sternberg who resigned a few weeks ago after starting the job on July 1. Burman said the findings from that report had “nothing in there that those in the business didn’t know about the University of Wyoming.” Burman said he hopes to use the report as a positive spin to candidates that dialogue among athletics department officials, campus administrators, community members and people throughout the state will begin as early as next month to develop a strategic plan and set goals for UW athletics.
–Increasing assistant coaching salaries and recruiting budgets in football were two things the consultants pointed out that needed to improve. Burman said “there is an opportunity to enhance some of those areas” with this next hire.
–Burman on what he is looking for in the next coach: “We want to hire a coaching staff that can built a program of student-athletes that represent Wyoming and the university with class and win games. And, build a program that we have a reputation of being very physical and tough, and coming into War Memorial Stadium is a challenging Saturday afternoon.”
–Burman really put an emphasis on instilling toughness: “I’m going to try and dig deep to see if we can develop a culture of toughness and be a football team that really is tough to play on Saturday. We did not hold our our end of the bargain on the offensive line or defense lines this year. … One thing I believe we have gotten away from is being a physical football team. If you look at the difference of the team that was 8-4 at end of 2011 regular season and what we finished with now, there’s a different edge to them. We have to find a way to get that back. … We can’t be successful at Wyoming if we are not tougher than our opponent.”
–Pete Kaligis, the assistant head coach the last two seasons, is in charge of the program for now. He and offensive line coach Jim Harding are both under contract through the end of March. The rest of the assistants are under contract through the end of December.
–Burman said he met with the players Sunday. “There’s always concern and nervousness for themselves and their futures. They took (the news) very well. There has been good dialogue, and I’ve had some great texts and emails with the kids. It went as well as to be expected. I wanted them to know I care about them and this place cares about them. We’re going to get it fixed. We all need to stay together. The upcoming seniors need to become seniors and really hold these kids together for the next few weeks until we get this moving forward.”
–Burman said UW will be aggressive with this search and wants to get a coach hired as soon as possible. He also said he doesn’t have a lot of time to be chasing candidates around. He mentioned “a few weeks” a couple of times Monday in terms of how long he thinks it will be to get a new coach in place. For past reference, it took Burman only a week to hire Christensen after he fired Joe Glenn in 2008.
For more coverage, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.