Gary Tranquill, the offensive coordinator at West Virginia University, has been interviewed twice by Naval Academy officials about replacing George Welsh as head football coach, J.O. (Bo) Coppedge, Navy's athletic director, confirmed last night.
In Memphis, where Navy played Ohio State in the Liberty Bowl last night in Welsh's final game before he takes over at Virginia, Coppedge said he has interviewed four candidates; he confirmed that Tranquill was the only one who had been interviewed more than once. Coppedge said he hoped to name Welsh's replacement "by next week."
"Tranquill has been interviewed twice," Coppedge said. "But it isn't right to say he's the No. 1 candidate, because there is no No. 1 candidate right now."
Tranquill, 41, served as quarterback and receivers coach on Welsh's first staff at Annapolis. He coached there from 1973-76.
Coppedge said other candidates interviewed are current Navy assistants. It was learned they are Bill Haushaulter, Joe Krivak and Tony Whittlesey. They reportedly have met only with Coppedge and not with the eight-member Naval Academy Athletic Association Board of Control, as Tranquill did on his second interview.
At Maryland, Athletic Director Dick Dull, who is seeking a replacement for Jerry Claiborne as football coach, said he has reduced the list of candidates to 10. He said he hopes to cut it to five by next week and name a coach by Jan. 15 or 20.
Dull refused to comment on his interest in Dick Nolan, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, who confirmed that he has been interviewed for the job. "I think I'll be able to get the person I want," Dull said. "I don't want to settle for the second best or the best person available."
Nolan, who played offensive and defensive halfback on Maryland's 1953 national championship team, is currently defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers.
In Atlanta, where West Virginia plays the University of Florida in today's Peach Bowl, Tranquill said last night "the best four four years I've had in coaching" were at Annapolis. Asked why he left Annapolis to become an assistant at Penn State, Tranquill said: "I've always aspired to be a head coach. At the time I thought it was a move in the right direction professionally."
Tranquill said he thought his interview with Navy's Athletic Board of Control "went well. But you never know . . . If it happens, it happens and I'll be very appreciative. If it doesn't. I'll go on from there."
Tranquill, a 1962 graduate of Wittenberg University, coached the secondary there from 1964-69. He went to Ball State in 1970 and became current West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen's defensive coordinator at Bowling Green in 1971. After coaching at Navy and Ohio State, he became West Virginia's defensive coordinator in 1979 and switched to offensive coordinator when Nehlen became coach in 1980.
In College Park, Dull refused to discuss or disclose any names on his list. However, a number of possible candidates mentioned by Maryland boosters or officials are said to be unavailable.
That list includes Sam Rutigliano, coach of the Cleveland Browns; Lee Corso, former Maryland assistant and now head coach at Indiana University, and Jack Elway, head coach at San Jose State.