As Louisville announced Scott Satterfield as its new head football coach Tuesday, it ended two weeks of what became an open hiring process by the Cardinals athletics department.
When Purdue coach Jeff Brohm turned down Louisville, the university shifted focus to the six-year Appalachian State coach. Around roughly the same time, Athletics Director Doug Gillin of Appalachian State started receiving inquires about a potential opening to coach the Mountaineers.
A nationwide search for a top-tier Group of Five program started Tuesday afternoon as Satterfield was introduced, and Gillin said he will start responding to those some who contacted throughout his developing search. Gillin has not interviewed anyone and said he will use a search committee and not a firm.
The shear amount of candidates, their quality and their ranges of experiences, has shown Gillin how people feel about the Mountaineers program.
“I think it’s a testament to Appalachian State, and what this means and what football means,” Gillin said Wednesday in a phone interview with the Journal. “People want to go to a place — if you’re a football coach — they want to go to a place where football matters.
“And it matters at Appalachian State.”
Gillin is looking for a few traits:
• He wants the new coach to recruit players who will be academically successful. That’s something, Gillin pointed out, that Satterfield and his App State staff did throughout.
• He wants the new coach to carry on victorious ways — Appalachian has won at least nine games in each of the last four seasons, along with three bowl victories and three conference championships.
• And finally, Gillin wants the new coach to be familiar with the South, to want to live in Boone, and to bring in assistants that would want the same. When asked about the App State culture, and if a candidate would benefit from being familiar with the school, Gillin sees that as a plus but not a requirement.
“That’s certainly on the pros list, some App State connection,” Gillin said. “Some southeast connection. Certainly from a recruiting standpoint and a staffing standpoint, that type of thing. So when you kind of build up your list and your building a candidate profile, that’s certainly one of the things you’re looking for.
“I will tell you that the interest that we have received is from across the country. From people in programs that are really exciting, so I really consider this — we’re kind of looking in terms of other criteria. Been in a program that’s won at a high level, recruited at a high level, graduated at a high level, engaged in the community at a high level, help fund raise at a high level. So those are also criteria.”
Mark Ivey was named the interim head coach Tuesday.
Ivey is the team’s defensive line coach and was promoted to assistant head coach earlier this year. He was the logical choice to keep consistency, Gillin said, as a person that could continue to provide the leadership needed during this transition.
Gillin said though Satterfield was the person piloting the program, there are still strong leaders throughout the staff. In regard to trying to retain some of the App State staff for the next head coach, Gillin said he would defer to the person he hires.
“To sum up our culture, there’s a lot of great people in Boone, a lot of great people associated with Appalachian State,” Gillin said. “I think that for me, I need to hire the right head coach for Appalachian and let that person run the program. And that’s what I plan on doing.”
Gillin said he won’t put a target date on the hire. Although he would prefer to have a new coach in place before the football team leaves for winter break.
Gillin met with the football team Tuesday afternoon. While he thought the players were still trying to process the change, he sensed they were focused on preparing for the New Orleans Bowl, where App State will play Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 15.
The team, Gillin said, is one of many factions that this football coaching hire will effect.
When Gillin was hired in 2015, he inherited a coach and a program that would win at a championship level. Gillin now shoulders the choice could keep that going.
“I just want to do the best that I can for this university and this program and its student-athletes and its alums and fans,” Gillin said. “And with that, certainly that creates pressure. You don’t want to miss … that would be just the pressure that I have, is to make sure that we hire somebody that represents this university the best way possible and make sure the student-athlete welfare and wellness is at the forefront of everything that they do.
“… I want to make sure that I do what they hired me to do. And so this is one of those situations where you’ve got to perform, and we’re looking forward to that. In some ways this is exciting. I hate that we lost Scott. He did amazing things, but you know, there’s the next chapter, and it’s exciting to be part of writing the next chapter.”