ENMU narrows coaching search to three

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University has narrowed its search for a football coach to three candidates.

Athletic director Jeff Geiser said Tuesday that the finalists are New Mexico Military coach Jeff Lynn, Copperas Cove (Texas) High School coach Jack Welch and Texas-El Paso assistant Jeff Woodruff.

The new coach will replace Mark Ribaudo, who was fired on Nov. 15 after seven seasons as the Greyhounds’ head coach.

Geiser led the university’s search committee, which included Don Elder, Thurman Elder, Matt Martin and Gene Smith. Finalists were selected from a field of between 65 and 70 candidates.

All three finalists will be on campus for interviews this week, beginning today with Lynn and continuing with Welch on Thursday and Woodruff on Friday.

“We felt really good about our entire pool of candidates,” Geiser said. “I want to compliment the other members of the search committee that helped us get to this point.”

Lynn, a former All-Lone Star Conference tight end and assistant coach at ENMU, has been at NMMI the past six seasons and went 9-3 in 2011 after taking over as head coach. The Broncos competed in the Champs Heart of Texas junior college bowl on Saturday, ironically at Copperas Cove, where his team lost to Navarro (Texas) 40-24.

After leaving ENMU, Lynn spent one season as an assistant coach at Division II Delta State.

Welch has spent the last 18 years at Copperas Cove, also serving as athletic director. He led the Bulldawgs to a 10-2 record in 2011.

He spent time early in his career as an assistant at West Texas State (now West Texas A&M), and also had stints at Kansas Wesleyan, Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and Louisiana Tech.

One of the players Welch coached at Copperas Cove was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is a Heisman Trophy finalist this weekend.

Woodruff has been a college coach for more than 30 years, starting as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington from 1980-82. He spent one year as defensive backs coach at the University of Nevada before returning to UW for 11 years, helping the Huskies win a national championship in 1991.

He spent several years as a high school coach, then two years as an assistant at Arizona before taking over the program at Eastern Michigan from 2000-03.

He has been at UTEP since 2004, and the Miners’ assistant head coach since 2007.