Memphis Needs to Identify a Candidate Who Will Take the Job

There’s a key factor in talent recruitment that can be overlooked if the recruiter falls in love with a particular resume or qualification and thus becomes fixated on a certain set of candidates. For lack of a more succinct term, let’s call it the can we actually get this person to take the job? factor.

It’s important.

Memphis doesn’t necessarily appear to be understanding the can we actually get this person to take the job? factor as it searches for a head football coach to replace Justin Fuente.

Maybe they do and maybe they’re close to making a great hire that fans and supporters can all be proud of. For purposes of analyzing the Memphis search I’m making a lot of assumptions based on media reports and internet speculation.

That said, it appears Memphis has done some swinging and missing thus far. At least with one candidate and maybe with others.

For the better part of the last 5 years I’ve been a talent recruiter. I place professional candidates with corporations and business clients. In that role I’ve learned that the ideal candidate on paper is almost never the candidate that ends up getting placed.

The candidate that ends up getting placed is ideally the best candidate that you can get to take the job. 

Seems obvious right?

I say ideally because you could always end up with less than the best candidate that you can get to take the job.

That’s not a good thing. You want to avoid that.

Take for example Larry Porter. Certainly there were better candidates who would have taken the job.

For example Hugh Freeze. Hugh Freeze wanted the Memphis job when Porter was hired.

That would have been better.

But that’s about judgement and vision and intuition and other things. I’m not talking about that here.

That’s not my point.

My point is that Memphis needs to identify a coach who will actually take their job.

Barry Odom seems to be a terrific candidate for a few reasons. He’s familiar with the Memphis program, having worked there for 3 years. He’s popular with boosters, players, administration – and offers continuity.

The problem, which by now everyone knows is that Barry Odom really wants and might get the Missouri job. In fact, Odom wants the Missouri job so much that he isn’t willing to take the Memphis job.

At least not yet.

Oklahoma Sooners Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley’s name emerged on Tuesday night in connection with Memphis. He’s considered to be a rising young star in the coaching profession.

Problem: It was reported about an hour later that South Carolina, it of the mighty SEC, is also interested in Riley.

Translation: Riley probably isn’t coming to Memphis. Or at least not until he makes sure, like Odom, that he can’t get that coveted SEC job.

Make no mistake though, if Riley can get the South Carolina job he doesn’t want the Memphis job.

In fact, if Riley can even get serious consideration for the South Carolina job it probably means he isn’t coming to Memphis. After all, South Carolina could be the best P5 job left out there and his candidacy for it is an indicator he’s going to get a P5 job somewhere.

So my guess is that Riley wants the Memphis job less than Odom does.

I could be wrong. But if I’m right it means Memphis may be in the habit of targeting candidates they can’t get.

That’s a bad habit.

There are currently 7 “Power 5” jobs open. Missouri, South Carolina, Rutgers, Syracuse, Miami, Maryland and Virginia.

What this essentially means is that there are at least 7 jobs better than the Memphis job. Better facilities, better money, better access to the playoff.

So what should Memphis do?

Memphis should probably rank the available candidates 1 to, say, 10 or 15. Count down the list to about 8, and start calling.

Think of it as a draft board.

The further down you go, the more genuine the interest in the Memphis job. After 7 or 8 you’ll start encountering people that will actually take the job.

It’s a crucial component.

Memphis needs to line up somebody they can get. Someone that isn’t going to then turn around and use Memphis’ interest to get involved or re-involved in another search at one of the aforementioned P5 schools.

Once that guy is lined up, if Memphis wants to spend half a day calling their top candidates (Odom, Riley, etc…) and offering them a take it right now or leave it forever proposition, fine.

If they take it, great.

If they don’t, hire that other dude you lined up.

Maybe Memphis is doing this. Based on the media reports however, it doesn’t seem like it.

It seems like they’re wasting valuable time on people that don’t want to take their job.