NCCU's Jerry Mack hits ground running in search of aides

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 07:32 PM

A “Help Wanted” sign hanging outside the office of newly hired N.C. Central football coach Jerry Mack probably wouldn’t attract the labor force he needs to handle business with the Eagles.

NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced the appointment of the former South Alabama wide receivers coach to the NCCU head job on Thursday. And he comes without a staff.

Often when schools hire active head football coaches, they bring many of their assistant coaches with them.

Since Mack was an assistant himself, he doesn’t have a staff to bring to Durham. He has to put one together, and it would not be out of the question for one or more of his former fellow South Alabama assistants to join him at NCCU.

Mack, 33, said he’s been getting recommendations about potential assistants who are worth vetting.

“And they might be right here in town. You just never know,” Mack said about the staff prospects. “I’ve got some guys on the back burner right now, but we’ll have it done by the first of the year.”

Mack’s new role makes him the third-youngest active Division I head coach, and he’s never been a head coach before, so he’s probably going to surround himself with older, more-seasoned coaches, Wicker-McCree said.

Wicker-McCree chose Mack after Dwayne Foster brought NCCU to a 5-7 finish as the team’s interim head coach, filling in for Henry Frazier III. Wicker-McCree fired Frazier in August. She said she had to do it because issues in his personal life were creating troubling headlines and stealing attention that belonged to the university’s students.

Mack’s appointment calls for him to make $180,000 annually for five years beginning Jan. 6.

Frazier was earning $225,000 a year. Foster was at $68,000 annually before getting bumped to $150,000 a year during his time as interim coach.

Several coaches who were on NCCU’s staff this season were at the press conference when Mack was introduced. Foster was not among them. He applied for the NCCU job that Mack got. Wicker-McCree would not say whether or not Foster was granted an interview.

Roy Jones, Andre George and Mike Mendenhall were NCCU assistants last season and shook Mack’s hand after the press conference.

Jones coached NCCU’s running backs and doubled as the teams’ director of operations. He was a key man for both Foster and Frazier.

George coached NCCU’s defensive backs. He played the position for NCCU and this season tutored freshman Michael Jones, one of the best pass defenders in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Michael Jones was a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award that recognizes the nation’s top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Mendenhall had MEAC coaches game planning to figure out how to stop his special-teams units that rather routinely found ways to get the football into the end zone.

Mack was expected to interview those coaches Friday.

Southern High School alumnus and coach Adrian Jones was at Thursday’s news conference, too. Mack referenced the 3-AA championship Southern won over the weekend. Adrian Jones played defensive back for NCCU and later coached that position there.