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Others joining Freeze in departure

Published: Monday, December 5, 2011

Updated: Monday, December 5, 2011 22:12


Before Monday was over, Arkansas State felt more impact from Hugh Freeze's departure as head coach as the announcement broke at least five of his assistant coaches will be joining him at Ole Miss.

            Among the coaches reportedly leaving are defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, quarterbacks coach Grant Heard, defensive line coach Chris Kiffen, tight ends coach Maurice Harris and linebackers coach Tom Allen.

            This leaves interim head coach David Gunn, special teams coordinator Corey Batoon, wide receivers coach Tyler Siskey, offensive line coach Darren Hiller and graduate assistants Anthony Robinson and Travion Scott as the coaching staff remaining for the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

            In the meantime, the Athletic Department has launched a nationwide search for the next head coach with a long list of candidates to consider.

            "I think it was 80 when I looked at it last night. Just about with every head coaching position, that's kind of what you do as an athletic director, you try to be prepared," said athletic director Dean Lee at a press conference Monday. "A lot of them may not have interest, a lot of them may not be qualified.

            "Those numbers don't reflect the amount of contact and information of folks that have interest in the program that's even started today. It's just been released first thing this morning," continued Lee.

            Lee, who has enlisted the services of Carr Sports Associated, Inc. in Gainesville, Fla. to find the head coach, talked to the media with Gunn Monday.

            "David Gunn has been here for 10 seasons. He is a man of integrity. He is a man of character. An outstanding person I know that can take this responsibility and be very positive and as we go through transition process, will do an outstanding job," Lee said.

            This is the second time in a year ASU will be searching for a head coach, as Freeze was hired after the firing of Steve Roberts.

            "We're in much better shape this year than we were a year ago. We have so many things to sell. We're conference champs; we're going to a bowl game," Lee said.

            The people who will be playing in that bowl game are the student-athletes that will be without the head coach who led them to where they are.

            "All that coach Freeze was, was an instrument building something that us the players have been wanting to build…everything remains intact," said senior center Tom Castilaw.

            Castilaw is one of 24 seniors who will be counted upon for their leadership when the Red Wolves take the field against Northern Illinois on Jan. 8. Castilaw and the team did not know the fate of their coach until an early morning meeting at the football facility.

            "I could see it (going) either way. At the same time, it's still one of those things that no matter prepared you are for it, it takes you back a little bit," Castilaw said.

            Gunn said it is time for the team to move forward from the Freeze era and that begins today.

            "We have a team and we have a group of young men who believe in one another and they believe in this coaching staff. That's what we're going to build up on, that's what we're going to continue trusting in as we move forward," said Gunn, who served as running backs coach and director of player development before being named to the interim position.

            The players do not seem too concerned about the short coaching staff heading into the bowl game against Northern Illinois.

            "Like coach Gunn said, we have coach Hiller and coach Siskey, who do the pass and run game," said junior quarterback Ryan Aplin. "I'm not sure how it will be done, but these coaches work hard enough all week to get us prepared. They'll definitely have a good game plan."

            The decision on who will take over the play calling duties will be made later in the week as the Red Wolves are tentatively scheduled to return to the practice field on Friday.

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