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CSUN Is Leaning Toward Ponciano

Football: Bubb hopes to pick between three finalists for coaching job this morning.

January 30, 1998|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Ron Ponciano, defensive coordinator at San Jose State, is the leading candidate to become Cal State Northridge football coach, sources said Thursday.

Paul Bubb, Northridge's athletic director, said he had not offered the job to any of the three finalists.

He said the announcement could come this morning and the formal introduction early next week.

"I'm still hopeful we can wrap up this thing [today]," Bubb said.

Ponciano contended for the position with Northridge assistant Jeff Kearin and Northern Iowa defensive coordinator Tom Mason. The three were interviewed on separate days this week by a Northridge search committee.

The school began looking for a coach after Jim Fenwick resigned on Jan. 5 to become offensive coordinator at New Mexico. About 60 coaches applied.

A Northridge sub-committee member said his group ranked Ponciano just ahead of Kearin. Mason's plans, the source said, concerned some panel members.

"We wanted to stay with someone familiar with the system, someone who is not going to make drastic changes," the source said. "[Ponciano] said he probably would keep most of the assistants. . . . He's real outgoing. I think he could raise a lot of money for the program because of his personality.

"Mason [wanted] to come in and change the entire program around."

Ponciano, 38, is coming off his first season as San Jose State's defensive coordinator after spending the previous two years in the same capacity at Northridge.

He also was an assistant at several schools, including Azusa Pacific in 1984, USC in 1987-88 and Valley College in 1989.

Ponciano, who would become the 10th coach in Matador history and the fourth since 1994, wants to return to the region for reasons besides football. He has relatives in Rancho Cucamonga and San Dimas.

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