Monday, November 26, 2007

Boone to get Help in Hiring next Head Football Coach

Ole Miss will turn to a nationally known headhunter to find candidates for its head football coaching vacancy, the school's athletic director, Pete Boone, said Sunday.

Boone said he spoke with Chuck Neinas, a longtime athletic administrator who owns his own consulting firm, on Sunday for over half an hour and has decided to contract with him.

The use of Neinas Sports Services typically costs a school between $20,000 and $40,000, Boone said. The value to a school is that Neinas operates discreetly and has contacts with coaches nationwide, meaning they can contact Neinas to let him know they're interested in the job.

"That person is kind of the filter," Boone said. "And certainly if we're interested in someone he can find out either one way or the other whether or not they're interested enough that we could contact their athletic director."

Ole Miss is looking for a coach after it dismissed Ed Orgeron on Saturday morning, less than a day after his team blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead at Mississippi State. The loss secured the school's first winless Southeastern Conference season since 1982. Orgeron was 3-21 in SEC games.

Boone met with Ole Miss players for a half-hour Sunday night at the team meeting room in the school's Indoor Practice Facility to give them reasoning for the decision, according to an Ole Miss release. Assistant coaches Hugh Freeze and John Thompson joined him, as did staff members Aaron Ausmus, Tim Mullins and Kyle Strongin.

Boone wouldn't say Sunday if the school had made contact with any candidates.

The selection of Neinas' firm places Ole Miss with a handful of other schools who have hired him. Ole Miss used another search firm, ChampSearch, in 2006 when it hired Andy Kennedy as its basketball coach.

Neinas (pronounced NI-nus) is reported to be assisting Texas A&M's search to replace Dennis Franchione, who resigned Friday. In a USA Today profile of Neinas last December, it was reported that he worked on six searches last off-season alone, including Alabama, which paid him $35,000, according to The Birmingham News.

Neinas consulted on the searches that led Butch Davis to North Carolina, Mark Dantonio to Michigan State, Randy Shannon to Miami and Tom O'Brien to North Carolina State, USA Today reported.

According to the article, Neinas' tactics are extremely secretive, and his firm even offers a background search performed by a former FBI agent. The Web site for Neinas Sports Services touts his ability to run a confidential search and a network of personal relationships.

A message left at Neinas Sports Services' office in Boulder, Colo., was not returned Sunday.

Before starting his own firm in 1997, Neinas served 17 years as the executive director of the College Football Association. Prior to that, he served nine years as the commissioner of the Big Eight Conference.

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