By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 23, 2015) — For new head coach Todd Whitten and Tarleton State football, it’s a case of hurry up and wait.
Twenty days after being formally introduced as head coach for the third time at Tarleton, Whitten says he has made no decisions concerning his coaching staff but has received recruiting interest from some Division I transfers.
He has also had time to meet with the team as a group, and says he’s met with several players individually. He’s also met with the current coaching staff and set a timeline for coaching decisions including the hiring of a defensive coordinator.
“The goal is to have all that done by January 15,” Whitten said of his coaching staff. “Right now I’m looking forward to a good Christmas with family, but I’m also anxious to get past the Christmas break and get out there recruiting because that’s the life blood of your program.”
Whitten has had players recruited as a high school coach, and he’s recruited players at Division II Tarleton, Division I-FCS Sam Houston State and Lamar and Division I-FBS Texas-El Paso (UTEP). He says having experience from all angles is an advantage.
“I think it is, mainly because I’ve been doing this 30 years and I have good relationships with coaches at all levels,” Whitten said. “That really helps when it comes to finding players, whether they’re high school players, junior college guys or Division I transfers.”
While Whitten exudes a sense of urgency anytime a conversation turns to recruiting, he also points out that recruiting is a slower process at the Division II level.
“Division I schools for the most part are done with their (recruiting) classes for this year. They’re trying to hold on to their commitments and work toward next year,” Whitten said. “You’ll see a lot of kids start thinking about the Division II route in January, and we’ll be out there hitting it hard trying to find players.”
Whitten says the pool of prospects is much larger at the Division II level.
“You’re only looking at a select few in Division I, whereas we’ll look at a lot more players in Division II,” he said. “And the rules are a little different. Right now, recruiting is completely dead in Division I, but we can at least recruit on the phone (in Division II). There are times they can talk to players and we can’t, so it’s a little different.”
Whitten does not believe winning at Tarleton requires re-inventing the wheel, so to speak.
“Things can change fast in the Lone Star Conference and Division II,” said Whitten. “You find some difference makers at a couple different spots and get your confidence going and things can turn around in a hurry.”
That’s what he’s hoping to achieve at Tarleton.
“That’s the goal is to turn things around quickly,” he said. “That’s not a bold prediction that it will happen or anything, but it’s the goal that we’re working toward.”
Even if he has to hurry up and wait to get there.
“I’ve had the new employee orientation and had a new ID made, all of those things. It’s all part of the process of getting settled in and going again,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy the Christmas break, then after that you’ll see the pace of things really pick up around here.”