By Jeff Brown
Youngstown State University Athletic Director Ron Strollo officially announced the firing of head football coach Eric Wolford at a press conference on November 25th.
Wolford was 31-26 over his five seasons with the Penguins and brought the program its first win versus an Football Bowl Subdivision opponent in 2012 when team beat the University of Pittsburgh 31-17. However, the team failed to make the playoffs during Wolford’s tenure.
“At the end of the day the expectation are the playoffs and I think it’s that simple,” Strollo said. “We just weren’t able to turn the corner. You know we got dangerously close year after year it felt like, but that would be the reason.”
The firing of Wolford forces YSU to pay a $100,000 buyout in his contract that YSU must pay if Wolford is unable to find a job next season. Strollo doesn’t expect Wolford to be unemployed for long.
“Eric’s young and has a bright coaching future, and we expect Eric to be employed here shortly and that mitigation clause to take effect and us being able to go our separate ways without it costing either of us financially,” he said.
Strollo said he made the decision Monday night and that it was his decision, not YSU President Jim Tressel. He continued to say that Tressel will be involved the same as any other university president would be in hiring a football coach, but did say he will value the opinion of the former National Champion Coach.
“There’s no question I think he’s an asset in that sense,” Strollo said. “When we do finally get to a final pool of candidates he’ll be someone that will be just another asset to say hey what do you know about this individual or is there someone that maybe you can help contact so we can learn a little more.”
As far as the contract for the new coach is concerned, Strollo does not foresee YSU spending any more assets on the new coach and coaching staff than they previously have.
“I don’t expect any more resources to be invested in our football program. I think where we’re at is at a competitive level,” Strollo said.
Strollo expects to interview around six to eight potential candidates for the job and will look at a variety of different coaches from all levels.
“More importantly than anything it’s got to be someone that wants this job,” Strollo said. “Someone that is enthusiastic about being part of not only the YSU community, but the Mahoning Valley.”