JC Football: Pirates altering staff

Orange Coast College has begun the process of hiring a new football coach, who may be the head coach, share head-coaching duties with current coach Mike Taylor, or merely be a coordinator while being groomed to eventually take over for Taylor, Pirates Athletic Director Michael Sutliff said Friday.

Sutliff said a notice announcing the opening will likely be posted online as quickly as Jan. 2 and it will list the job as a head-coaching position.

"There has been a big debate about how we want to advertise [the position]," Sutliff said. "We are advertising it as a head coach, but we don't have the specifics as to what the staff will look like. We may have two coaches, but we are flying it as a head-coaching position simply because we are looking long term."

Sutliff said Taylor is not being fired and the program's performance on the field — OCC was 3-7 in 2013, has not had a winning season since 2006 and has had just three winning seasons in Taylor's 15-year tenure, during which the Pirates are 62-91 — has nothing to do with bringing on another coach.

Rather, Sutliff said administrative approval for the position was finally given, prompting the hiring of a new coach. And, with Taylor nearing retirement, Sutliff and Taylor have both expressed a desire to bring in someone who could eventually, if not immediately, assume leadership of the program as head coach.

"First of all, I'm excited to bring a coach on," said Taylor, who has only one assistant, offensive line coach Doug Smith, on staff as a full-time employee of the school. "We've been trying to get an assistant coach hired to come in and help with the football program for a long time."

Taylor said he would prefer the new hire come in as a coordinator, who would be groomed to take over down the road. Taylor said he did not have a specific number of seasons he wanted to coach before retiring.

But Taylor also said he would be open to working with the new hire as a co-head coach, or even as a coordinator working under a newly appointed head man.

"I could handle that," Taylor said of a diminished role on the staff, as soon as next year. "I've been a teacher at Orange Coast since 1991 and this is a great college. Orange Coast has to do what Orange Coast has to do and I would be supportive of whatever direction [Sutlcliff and President Dennis Harkins] went."

Sutliff said Taylor's input will weigh heavily on the ultimate configuration of the staff.

"It's going to come down to where Mike is at and what role he wants to play," Sutliff said. "It's just different in community colleges, because coaches are the only faculty that can be tenured. We are really trying to navigate through what is best for Mike and what is best for the new person we bring on and really organize the staff in a logical way.

"It will be a collaborative decision, but as the A.D., I have to make the final decision with the support of the president ... Mike and I have a strong relationship, in my opinion and I thoroughly respect Mike. I look at everything he does, not just for football, but for our division. I look at him as a leader and I have the utmost respect for Mike Taylor. I just can't say it enough. He and I have been communicating about this process for a while, so we are trying to do it the right way, as best we can."

Sutliff said the application process will run through mid to late February and then the hiring process will commence. He said Smith, per usual, will oversee the football class in the spring semester and that the school would hope to have the new addition in place by the summer.

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