WILLIAMSTOWN >> Now the hard part begins.
Friday was the deadline to apply for the open Williams College football head coaching position. Now athletic director Lisa Melendy and her selection committee start winnowing through the 97 applications the school received over the past month.
"We are super-hopeful to name somebody by March 1," Melendy said. "That may or may not happen."
The 97 applicants are seeking to replace Aaron Kelton as the head football coach at Williams. Kelton stepped down last month after six years as the head coach. He was 23-25 in that span, including an 8-0 first season and three consecutive 2-6 records to finish his time at Williams.
"They are from everywhere," Melendy said. "There are no Division I head coaches who have applied. There are head coaches from [Division] II and III, from high schools, assistants and coordinators from all levels, and from all across the country. They aren't from every state, but from shore to shore."
When Melendy and the search committee selected Kevin App as basketball coach two years ago, she called the pool of coaches "perhaps the strongest pool we have had for any search."
And this group of 97 might be close to the basketball pool.
"I think it's a very strong pool," Melendy said, when reached at her office Friday afternoon. "We have candidates from strong programs with strong backgrounds. [Some candidates have] ties to either NESCAC or the Ivy League, or Division I and other good D-III programs, successful programs.
"We may have more names in the group then we have time to interview them all."
According to the ad placed by the college, Williams is "inviting applications for the position of Assistant Professor (three-year renewable appointment) of Physical Education and Head Coach of Football. The appointment will begin with the academic year 2016-17."
Candidates were required to have Bachelor's degrees, with a Master's and previous college coaching experience preferred.
The Williams A.D. said the committee will attack the 97 applications and cut the field to a group of candidates who will be interviewed by phone. From there, the group will be cut again and a handful of candidates will be interviewed on campus in February.
Among the names that reportedly are in the pool include former Williams player and current Salve Regina head coach Kevin Gilmartin, University of Massachusetts quarterbacks coach Liam Coen, Dartmouth assistant coach Chris Rorke, Princeton offensive coordinator James Perry and Tufts assistant Scott Rynne. Rorke's father and brother Sean played at Williams, Perry coached at Williams under Dick Farley and Rynne was on the first of Farley's undefeated teams in 1989 and 1990.
"We usually have around 100 applicants for most of our jobs. I've heard from other folks who were conducting football searches in the same time frame and they said they had a lot of really good applicants," said Melendy. "Football has such large [coaching] staffs, so there's a bigger pool. There are a lot of football guys with really good experience. That's to our benefit."
Melendy said that the numbers that a selection committee usually deals with might be expanded because of the number of candidates who have applied.
"Normally for one of these [searches], we talk to eight-ish. We're talking about a larger group than that right now and trying to figure out how to sort through and find the best person," she said. "Generally, we bring four [to campus]. That's what we're planning on. We would never bring in fewer than three."
So Williams might be looking at a pool of 10 to 15 candidates to be interviewed on the telephone with between four and possibly as many as eight candidates coming to campus for on-site interviews.
At some point, Williams players like 2016 tri-captains Eric Davis, Mike Davis and Chris Hattar, will be part of the interview process. Players will be part of the on-campus interviews.
"They're in a holding pattern right now, which I'm sure is frustrating them. We met with [the players] at the start of the process to lay out the time line and talk about when they're in the process," said Melendy.