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Landon: MU search turns to names other than Jones

Dec. 10, 2009 @ 12:03 AM

It's looking more and more like former Marshall assistant Brad Lambert is emerging as the most viable option in the Herd's head football coaching sweepstakes.

Here's why.

There's growing doubt that former front-runner Butch Jones ever will set foot on Marshall's campus. Sources close to Central Michigan concur.

Jones appears to be in line for an interview at Kansas this week, according to sources. And, of course, there is the on-going saga involving Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame.

Since Jones already has followed Kelly successfully at Central Michigan, why not again at Cincinnati?

Besides those scenarios, Central Michigan's administration has anted up. The Chips have put a five-year contract extension on the table, calling for $400,000 in base salary with another $200,000 in incentives.

All in all, it appears Jones is fading from the Marshall picture.

So, who does that leave?

Most notably, Bobby Pruett.

The former Marshall coaching great has avoided officially declaring himself as a candidate. But several deep-pocketed Marshall boosters have lobbied Pruett to return as head football coach.

He listened.

And agreed.

But Marshall president Steve Kopp dissented, turning thumbs down on any prospective Pruett comeback. Unless Kopp can be persuaded to change his stance, it appears Pruett will remain retired.

That brings us to Rick Trickett.

The Florida State offensive line coach will be interviewed by Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick Friday at an undisclosed, neutral site. That is official.

What's also official is the Herd universe's collective displeasure over Trickett getting an interview.

Marshall fans simply can't fathom the reasoning.

I feel their angst.

Just consider Trickett's resume.

The West Virginia native spent 10 of his 36 years of college coaching at West Virginia University -- MU's arch rival. Six of those 10 seasons were with controversial former Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez.

Trickett never has been a coordinator at any of his 10 NCAA Division I-A stops. He was, however, Glenville State's head coach for one forgettable year in 1999, compiling a 5-6 record at the NCAA Division II school.

Ironically, that was the same season Pruett was leading Marshall to a 13-0 record.

Besides all that, Trickett is 61 years old and has a history for boorish behavior on and off the field.

So, why is he getting an interview? You mean besides the fact Trickett is motorcycle riding buddies with Gov. Joe Manchin?

Enough said.

That leads us to Lambert.

The Wake Forest defensive coordinator is the compromise candidate. He's not Pruett or Jim Donnan, but he's planning to play Pruett/Donnan style football with a coaching staff comprised of former Pruett and Donnan players and assistants.

Now, that's a compromise that could capture the Herd universe's imagination.

Lambert's staff reportedly would include Tony Petersen as offensive coordinator, Phil Ratliff, Greg Adkins, George Barlow and Jay Hopson. Either Barlow or Hopson would be defensive coordinator.

What are Lambert's chances?

Well, he has Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, who once hired Hamrick as an assistant AD at Illinois State, as well as Deacons head football coach Jim Grobe, a Huntington native, whispering in Hamrick's ear.

Coupled with the Pruett/Donnan style and staff, that's pretty strong.

That's why Lambert just might be the choice.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. E-mail him at clandon@herald- dispatch.com.

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