Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Right Stripe Strong Ties to Tigers Top Tobin's Resume

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Right Stripe Strong Ties to Tigers Top Tobin's Resume

Article excerpt

University of Missouri athletic director Dan Devine says he doesn't have a short list of prospects to replace Bob Stull, who resigned Monday as football coach.

But he does have a short working definition of the ideal candidate.

"I do believe in the uniqueness of this place," he said, "and that being unique, it might be advisable to have somebody who understands how interrelated things are at the University of Missouri."

While Devine has made it a point to publicly twirl celebrated names such as Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Don Nehlen of West Virginia and Terry Donahue of UCLA, it is evident that he has a fascination with those who know the terrain.

Thus, two early favorites for the job have emerged, each of whom Devine has said should have prevailed in previous MU coaching searches: Vince Tobin, a former All-Big Eight Conference defensive back at MU and most recently defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, and Merv Johnson, a former MU player and now assistant head coach at Oklahoma.

On Tuesday, Tobin, 50, said he and Devine had spoken Monday night and agreed to meet later this week. Each is to be in St. Louis today for a dinner honoring Devine.

Johnson, 57, said Tuesday that he had not talked with Devine since Stull's resignation. Although he is attracted to the job, he twice has been crestfallen as a finalist who didn't get it. For that reason, Johnson, from King City, Mo., said he won't campaign.

"I don't want to be a party in it just so there's a horse race," said Johnson, who also assisted Devine at Notre Dame. "I certainly have a sincere interest, but I don't see where it behooves me to try to drum up interest.

"Dan knows me as well as anybody does, and he knows what he's looking for and what I represent."

Devine also knows what Tobin represents. Tobin was born in Burlington Junction, Mo., where he grew up on a farm. He came to MU in the early '60s on a partial scholarship. …

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