While talking to Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman last week for a story reflecting on his first year with the Mustangs, I took the opportunity to ask some general housecleaning questions, too.
For one, just what is the contract status of football coach Tim Walsh? In November, Walsh said he was looking for an extension to his current deal, which was set to expire after the 2013 season. Oberhelman gave an update on that and offered some info on the basketball programs, too.
Basically, Oberhelman wants football coach Tim Walsh, men’s basketball coach Joe Callero and women’s basketball coach Faith Mimnaugh here for the long term.
Previous athletic director “Alison Cone hired a great football coach and a great basketball coach,” Oberhelman said. “I inherited two great situations there, and I want both those guys to be with us for a long time. So, those two guys and Faith also, we’re working through contract extensions for them. They need to stay here.”
Oberhelman said deals are in the works to keep all three through the 2015-16 academic year, though football would only last through the new year with an appearance in the FCS Championship Game.
Oberhelman did not stop there with his praise for the Mustangs coaches.
“The staff that we have I think is where we want to be. I like all the coaches that we’ve got in our program right now,” Oberhleman said, “and I have complete confidence and trust in what they’re doing. Now, it’s my job to go and get more resources to help them do what they do.”
Sticking with football and women’s basketball, these will be huge contract periods for the head coaches.
Walsh appears to get got what he wanted: A vote of confidence that strengthens his recruiting standing going into the upgraded competition level the program expects to face in moving to the Big Sky Conference for the first time this upcoming season.
Next season is also the fifth-year senior season for any Rich Ellerson recruits still on the team. Quarterback Andre Broadous and middle linebacker Kennith Jackson are the two biggest contributors left, but after they’re gone, the team will be entirely made up of Walsh recruits.
Then it’s time to showcase how well Walsh has stocked the shelves without anyone being able to point anywhere and say “yeah, but.” Being in the Big Sky has alleviated longstanding scheduling headaches and theoretically gives Cal Poly a better shot at the FCS playoffs. Now, we’ll all be watching to see if Walsh can capitalize on the opportunity.
For similar reasons, it will also be an interesting time for Mimnaugh, who much prove she can have success without Kristina Santiago.
Though she went undrafted in the WNBA, Santiago is still in the running for best player in program history, and her arrival at Cal Poly has a direct correlation to the Mustangs’ rise from the middle of the pack in the Big West Conference to a two-time regular-season conference champion.
Though an ugly streak of losing seasons preceded Mimnaugh’s tenure at Cal Poly, the Mustangs head coach still never had a winning season until Santiago, a Righetti High graduate, joined the team.
In Santiago’s redshirt season at Cal Poly, when she was lost to an ACL tear in the first game of the 2010-11 year, Mimnaugh guided the Mustangs to a miraculous first-place finish given the circumstances. If she can do it again with Santiago gone for good, it’ll show that good coaching, not miracles, had more to do with the success.