By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Tom Rogers took Thursday off. But, on his way to the Killeen Independent School District central office, said, "I needed to come in."
Rogers, KISD's Director of Athletics, has a lot to do and very, very little time to do it - fall football workouts begin in a little more than six weeks and Shoemaker High School has been without a head football coach and campus athletic coordinator since the abrupt retirement of longtime coach Ken Gray on June 9.
"There's a time frame and that's definitely the biggest crunch," Rogers said. "Things have to happen a lot faster.
"If we had the luxury of taking two months to do it, then it's a little better, but I think everybody realizes that it's something that we need to get done, to get a replacement, so the kids know that we've got it settled and that there is a plan."
Having an extended amount of time to take and then go through applications can prove dividends.
Belton Athletic Director Rodney Southern was able to take his time replacing girls basketball coach Randy Bell, who announced he was stepping down in late-April. Belton ISD approved Brenda Gomez, who led 3A Robinson to a state title in 2009, for the position on Monday, more than seven weeks after Bell's announcement.
"With the way our district is evolving, this one took us a little bit longer, but, in general, you'd like take a couple of weeks to really evaluate the number of people you have that you consider serious candidates for head coaching jobs," said Southern, who's also the Tigers head football coach.
"It depends, sometimes, on the time of the year, too."
And, obviously, the sport, Southern added.
A 5A head football job, like the one at Shoemaker, is going to attract attention and applications.
"There are people out there that, for a 5A head football job, are willing to take the risk of having to move and hire a staff," Southern said. "You're going to be limited on what you can hire staff-wise because of the time of the year, ... but I think, also, there's some guys who are still going to be interested in the job regardless of the hiring time-frame."
Replacement may already be here
Rogers estimated Thursday afternoon that upwards of 50 or more applications had been received for the Shoemaker opening from a mixture of candidates with various coaching backgrounds. He also said all in-district candidates, though he didn't specify how many that was, would receive extra consideration.
"I think you really look at those guys close because they're already here," Rogers said.
After replacing Gray, the Grey Wolves have to replace head baseball/assistant football coach Randy Culp, who transferred to Ellison on Monday to be an assistant baseball and football coach at his alma mater.
Salado Athletic Director Glenn Talbott, who has filled two of four head coach vacancies already this year, said he definitely considers in-house candidates.
"I think you have to, but that does not necessarily make it a done deal," Talbott said. "We're going to interview them - I think they deserve an interview - but it'll be what's best for the kids and best for Salado."
Talbott hired Rachel McFarland-Lee from Converse Judson as the head volleyball coach to replace Bree Holz-Gonzales, who left to take the same job at Temple. Last month, former Temple assistant Michael Goos was hired as Salado's head boys soccer coach, a recently created position.
That leaves openings at Salado for a head softball coach as well as a head baseball coach following the retirement of 25-year Eagles skipper Melvin Bates earlier this month.
"There's no set deadline, but we're going to try and hire fairly quick. We're going to try and get the best candidate too, though," said Talbott, who's in his second year as Salado's AD and head football coach after being hired last July.
"I was a late hire, so I know they're out there."
Sense of urgency
Killeen ISD posted the vacancy at Shoemaker on June 10, the day after Gray announced his retirement.
Thursday, after being posted the minimum 10 business days, the KISD listing for Gray's former job - the one only he had held in Shoemaker's 11 years - was closed.
Rogers said he hopes to start bringing in applicants next week for interviews and have someone hired "as soon as possible."
The 2011-12 school contract year begins July 1 and Shoemaker opens fall workouts Aug. 8.
"People don't really realize that if they bring somebody in in July, well, they don't have from July to August to work with the kids because you can't work with the kids football-wise until the second week of August because we had spring football," said assistant Shoemaker coach James Showers.
"Actually, this person has, from two-a-days, two weeks to get them ready for a contest."
The Grey Wolves' play their first scrimmage on Aug. 19 at Pflugerville Connally and host San Angelo Central in their season-opener on Aug. 25 at Leo Buckley Stadium.
For the time being, though, Shoemaker's head coach's office remains unoccupied; there is no one in place to cross out the passing days leading up to the start of the 2011-12 football season.
"I believe that everybody that's involved in it understands that," Rogers said of the urgency. "Just like today (Thursday), I took today off, but I needed to come in. It's just something I needed to do because it's the best thing for that school and those kids."
Alex Byington contributed to this report.