Nov 282007
Authors: Sean Star

Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk’s search to find Sonny Lubick’s replacement officially began Wednesday with the second-year AD sorting through a list of sources and information about possible candidates.

Kowalczyk essentially fired Lubick 12 days ago, ending Lubick’s 15-year run as the most successful coach in program history.

Though the hiring process is only in its beginning stages, Kowalczyk and other athletic department officials said the process will pick up quickly.

Kowalczyk didn’t mention any specific coaches on his radar so far, but he did say that he wants to hire someone with intercollegiate experience.

“We want someone that has tremendous value and integrity as an individual,” Kowalczyk said. “You want someone who has had success before.”

Kowalczyk said he has not set a specific timetable for when CSU’s 17th head football coach will be named.

Such a process is traditionally very competitive, as 11 head coaching positions are currently available in college football.

“A lot of people may be looking at the same candidates,” Kowalczyk said.

CSU has chosen not to hire an external search firm; instead, Kowalczyk and a small group of committee members he chooses will do the hiring.

Gary Ozzello, a senior associate athletic director, said Kowalczyk chose not to use an external firm to help make the search more personable.

“I think I can speak for Paul in saying that the best way (to find the candidate) is face to face,” Ozzello said.

With Lubick and former men’s basketball coach Dale Layer still owed pay from their leftover contracts, Ozzello said that money is only one of the many factors the department is considering.

“The main thing is to find the right situation and coach and then make the finances work,” Kowalczyk said.

The athletic department is routinely ranked at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference in funding recently, and much of the money it does have is because of the success Lubick’s teams enjoyed.

During Lubick’s tenure, more than $15 million in renovations were made, including a new surface on the Hughe’s Stadium field that now bears his name.

Christine Susemihl, a senior associate AD of internal operations who will not be part of the process, has worked at CSU since 1973 and has seen four different head football coaches come and go.

Several factors are considered in finding the right coach, Susemihl said, including finding someone that is knowledgeable about the Mountain West, familiar with the region, great at building relationships, can recruit well and of course, knows a lot about football.

“It’s kind of like finding a spouse,” Susemihl said about the process. “You know it when you see it.”

Susemihl said although there will “never be another Sonny Lubick,” she has faith that Kowalczyk will make the right choice. Kowalczyk said that a coach with connections to CSU, something that Lubick said he favors, is an asset, but not necessarily a requirement.

A new head football coach is only one of many changes to hit the athletic department since Kowalczyk’s arrival.

Over the summer the AD reorganized the structure of several office positions within the department, something Susmihl said was needed. “I think he’s organized it in a way that’s more like other universities,” she said. Kowalczyk declined further comment until the final decision is made.

Sports Editor Sean Star can be reached at

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