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Fullerton College Turns to Murphy : Football: Former Titan coach expected to be named Wednesday if he meets board approval.

April 24, 1993|STEVE KRESAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — Gene Murphy, who retired as Cal State Fullerton's football coach last season, is expected to be named coach at Fullerton College next week.

Fullerton College has called a press conference for noon Wednesday. School officials would not release a name, saying only that the job had been offered and accepted, but a source close to the search said the new coach is well-known in Orange County.

Murphy is the most prominent of the three finalists. The others are Dennis Dixon, offensive line coach at Golden West and a former Fullerton standout, and Santa Barbara City Coach Dave Baldwin. John Barnes of Los Alamitos High School and Esperanza's Gary Meek were among the final nine who interviewed.

The press conference was first announced for Monday but was moved to Wednesday so the new coach could be approved Tuesday evening at a meeting of the North Orange County Community College Board of Trustees.

Murphy, 53, had a 59-89-1 record in 13 seasons at Cal State Fullerton, and his teams won Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. titles in 1983 and 1984.

But continuing budget cuts helped tear down the once-competitive program. The Titans had the equivalent of only 33 scholarships last season, 59 fewer than the NCAA Division I-A maximum and seven fewer than the maximum allowed in the less-prestigious Division II.

Fullerton was 5-29 in Murphy's final three seasons, and on Oct. 1, he announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season.

After the Titans lost the final game, 33-16, at Nevada Las Vegas Nov. 28, Murphy said: "This was disappointing and depressing but that's it, there's no emotion. The word's not relief either. There is no emotion. There might be tonight, tomorrow, Monday or Tuesday. There might be if I don't get another job soon."

Had Murphy not resigned, he likely would still be looking for a job if he wanted to remain in coaching. Cal State Fullerton announced Dec. 7 that they were suspending the football program for at least one year, with an eye toward restoring it at the Division I-AA level in 1994.

Fullerton College's announcement will end a search that has taken more than a year. Hal Sherbeck, who was at Fullerton for 31 years, announced his retirement in March, 1992. Fullerton had hoped to replace him by last July but the affirmative action poll of candidates wasn't big enough at the time.

Rather than reopen the search, Fullerton turned to longtime assistants Marv Sampson and Glenn Thomas as interim co-coaches.

The Hornets were 1-9 last fall and Thomas (offensive line coach) and Sampson (offensive coordinator) decided to go back to being assistants on the Fullerton staff for next season.

Sherbeck, now living in Montana, retired as the winningest community college coach in the nation with a mark of 241-71-8 in 31 years.

Saddleback Coach Ken Swearingen, who led the Gauchos to the J.C. Grid-Wire national title last season, has since tied Sherbeck's victory mark.

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