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SOUs search for football coach winds down

Experience or potential? That&

s the decision Southern Oregon University will have to make when it comes to choosing its next head football coach.

SOU administrators interviewed the two finalists for the head job this week and will probably decide within two weeks who will take over the program, SOU athletic director Dennis Francois said Friday. The finalists, selected from a list of over 100 initial candidates, are Mike Maynard of University of Redlands (Calif.) and Steven Helminiak of Rockford College (Ill.)

Maynard has been the head coach at Redlands for the past 18 years. His record in that span is 109-55 overall and 77-19 in league play, good enough for nine conference championships and four NCAA Division III playoff appearances. According to his resume Maynard also earned an intercollegiate athletic Hall of Fame award in 2005, which begs the question: &

Why leave?&

&

He&

s been very successful as a coach and I think he is looking for an opportunity to hopefully win a national championship and I think he sees that opportunity here,&

Francois said.

Helminiak isn&

t nearly as experienced, but looks like an up-and-comer. He&

s been the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Rockford College for the past two years. There, he choreographed an offense that averaged 34.8 points and 374 yards per game. Rockford hammered teams on the ground, gaining 196 rushing yards per game.

&

I think he&

s potentially a great head coach,&

Francois said. &

His attitude is a winning-type of attitude and he&

s done very well at Rockwell College.&

While Maynard&

s resume appears to make him the front-runner, Francois would not speculate on which way SOU is leaning. A decision could come next week, but probably won&

t be made until the following week since several staff members are off next week.

&

Right now, we are still getting feedback from individuals regarding their impressions and their evaluation of the two candidates and once we&

ve gone through that and exhausted all those things we will make an offer and hopefully have somebody appointed,&

Francois said.

Francois did not rule out the possibility that more candidates will be interviewed, but that&

s unlikely.

The Raiders are looking to replace former head coach Jeff Olson, who resigned in April to become defensive coordinator at North Medford High. SOU defensive coordinator Shay McClure took over as SOU&

s interim head coach for the 2005 season. The Raiders finished the season 1-9, losing three games by eight points or less including one in overtime.

The Raiders are 9-20 since advancing to the 2002 national quarterfinals, a game which SOU lost in heartbreaking fashion to Carroll (Mont.) after blowing a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead.

SOU posted an advertisement for the position on the Web. According to the ad, candidates are required to have a Bachelor&

s degree and a minimum of three years of college coaching experience, with a Master&

s degree and head coaching experience preferred.

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 3020 or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com.