Former Liberty Tech head football coach Steve Hookfin had barely turned in his resignation last week before new Crusaders athletic director Luke Carter began getting resumes from coaches wanting to be the next man to lead the football team.
“We got a few even before I could post the opening on the TSSAA’s Web site,” Carter said. “We’ve got about three dozen in now.
“Those applications include coaches from Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, coordinators, a couple of college coaches and a few veteran head coaches. We’re getting interest from enough high-caliber coaching talent that if we can’t make the right hire from the resumes we’ve received, something is wrong.”
Hookfin announced his resignation last week when he was hired as the next head coach at Haywood High, which is where Carter came from before being hired as Liberty’s athletic director in time for the beginning of this semester.
“I was a counselor at Fayette-Ware for a year and Haywood the last six before I got the chance from Dr. [June] Murry to take this job here,” Carter said. “That works out well for me because I’ve lived in Jackson the past 10 years, and I’m enjoying the shorter commute.”
Though Carter said Liberty’s administration didn’t expect Hookfin to leave before it happened, he said Hookfin handled his exit in a professional manner.
“Coach Hookfin let us know Haywood was courting him to make the move to Brownsville,” Carter said. “And after he’d let us know, everything happened really quick then.
“We wish nothing but success for him because the results of the program while he was here certainly show he’s capable of it.”
Carter said there’s no timetable yet as of when he hopes to be able to name a new coach.
“Right now we’re still in the process of screening resumes and replying to messages we’ve received so far,” Carter said. “Once basketball season is over we’ll start to focus more on whittling the applicants and getting a list of candidates.
“The football program has been rolling well over the past few years, and we certainly want to make a hire quickly enough so that there’s little downtime for the program to take any steps back and have someone in place before spring practice starts.”
Hookfin had planned on the end of April for the beginning of the Crusaders’ spring practice.
Carter said the job should be attractive for potential candidates because of the player personnel Liberty generates each year along with the potential for the program.
“One of the good things about times like this is you have the ability to make changes you see as necessary to improve the program on what’s already there,” Carter said. “Coach Hookfin obviously improved this program a lot while he was here, and we want to see what can be done to make the program even more consistently a winner.
“We’ve got 12-year-old facilities here, and I think we’re willing to put ourselves on the line to do what we need to do to make the student-athletes even more successful,” Carter said. “It’s my job as an athletic director to be cautious in making decisions that are in the best interest of all the student-athletes in football, basketball and every other sport we have here.
“Obviously we want to see each program build its own legacy similar to what our basketball program has, and we need to be prepared to do that for the student-athletes.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751