Two coach candidates plan visits

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Missouri Western coach Jerry Partridge and Purdue assistant Tony Samuel will interview this week.

A current Division II head coach and a former Division I-A head coach who now serves as a Division I-A assistant will be in Cape Girardeau this week to interview for the vacant head football coaching position at Southeast Missouri State.

The university on Monday announced Missouri Western head coach Jerry Partridge and Purdue assistant Tony Samuel as two more finalists in the search to replace Tim Billings, who resigned after six seasons at Southeast.

Partridge will interview on Wednesday and Samuel will interview on Thursday. Craig Schurig, the head coach at Division II Washburn, was the first finalist to interview. He was in town on Friday.

Like Schurig, Partridge and Samuel will take part in a public forum where Southeast faculty, staff, students and boosters, along with media members and the public, are welcome to meet them and ask questions.

Partridge's open forum will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Missourian Room at the University Center, while the session with Samuel will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday in the Indian Room at the University Center.

"We're looking forward to getting both coaching candidates on campus," Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman said. "We had a very good first interview [with Schurig], and I think these will be equally as good."

Partridge has been the head coach at Division II Missouri Western the past nine seasons, compiling a 62-40 record, including a 52-28 mark over the past seven seasons. He needs three more victories to become the school's all-time winningest football coach.

Missouri Western, 9-3 this year, has won a school-record nine games twice under Partridge, and in 2003 the Griffons captured their first-ever conference title in football by claiming the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association crown.

Partridge, a three-year letterwinner at defensive back at Missouri Western from 1981 to 1984, has served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame and Missouri, and he has also been an assistant at Murray State and Austin Peay in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Kaverman is especially familiar with Partridge because, as the former athletic director at Missouri Western, he was primarily responsible for hiring Partridge.

"He's won over 60 percent of his games in what I consider to be one of the best Division II conferences in the country, he's coached at two OVC schools, he's from Missouri, he has great recruiting ties in the state," Kaverman said. "I think people will be very impressed with him."

Samuel was the head coach at Division I-A New Mexico State from 1997 to 2004, where he had an eight-year record of 34-57, including a 7-5 mark in 2002 that represented the program's most wins since 1967.

Samuel, the third-winningest football coach in New Mexico State history, led the Aggies to a 6-5 finish in 1998 for their first winning season since 1992 and just the third winning record in 32 years.

Samuel recently completed his first season as an assistant at Purdue, coaching defensive ends.

A two-year starter as a defensive end at Nebraska in the mid-1970s, Samuel coached linebackers and defensive ends at his alma mater from 1986 to 1996, mentoring six first-team All-Americans and 12 future NFL players. He was part of two national championship teams with the Cornhuskers.

Samuel has also been an assistant at Stanford and Western Michigan.

"He obviously comes from a great football background," Kaverman said. "New Mexico State is not an easy place to win, but he had some good seasons there. I think people will also be very impressed with him."

The Aggies were 5-6 under Samuel in 2004, after which he and his staff did not have their contracts renewed. This year, the first season after Samuel's departure, New Mexico State went 0-12.

All three of the Southeast finalists have head coaching experience, which Kaverman said is not an accident.

"I want to have an opportunity to talk with folks who have been in charge of a program and have been successful," he said. "I think we need to bring in somebody who has experienced success [as a head coach]."

Kaverman said recently that Southeast would bring in a fourth finalist some time next week, although he said on Monday that might not be the case.

"After these three, we'll determine whether we have somebody in this group that we want to recommend," said Kaverman, who after consulting with the search committee that he is chairing will make a recommendation on a new coach to Southeast president Ken Dobbins.

Southeast is coming off a 2-9 season. Billings had a six-year record of 25-43.

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