With Todd Dagenais’ sudden departure last week, UCF Knights Athletic Director Terry Mohajir has the unique challenge of finding a new head volleyball coach just three months before the Knights start the 2023 season, their first in the Big 12.
We take a look at some possible candidates to take over the Knights, starting with the most obvious:
Jenny Maurer - UCF Acting Head Coach
UCF can promote from within with current acting Head Coach Jenny Maurer.
The Knights reached new levels of success since Maurer joined Dagenais’ staff in January 2016. The Knights have had five 20-win seasons since, including five trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, three second-round appearances, and five AAC Championships.
As recruiting coordinator, Maurer has recruited players AVCA All-American McKenna Melville and setter Amber Olson, among multiple other key contributors over the last six years. She has run an up-tempo UCF offense which was ranked in the Top 5 in the NCAA in 2022.
She also has head coaching experience from her time at Bradley from 2011-2015, and has reportedly drawn interest from other programs for their head coaching jobs multiple times.
Best of all, she’s already here, and with limited time to transition, it would make sense to not totally upend things and go with a proven recruiter and established coach like Maurer, especially when you’re coming off the most successful five-year stretch in program history.
Tyler Adams - Tennessee Associate Head Coach
Wishing a happy birthday to associate head coach Tyler Adams! pic.twitter.com/fnkuK1HlgD— Tennessee Volleyball (@Vol_VBall) June 14, 2022
Tyler Adams enters his sixth season at Tennessee and his second as the Vols’ associate head coach. Adams has helped the Vols to the NCAA Tournament three times (2018, 2021-2022). Prior to Tennessee, Adams was an assistant coach at North Carolina.
Adams is a UCF graduate who got his coaching career started at UCF, serving as a volunteer assistant coach under Dagenais for two years (2008, 2010). Coincidentally, he is also married to former UCF middle blocker Dr. Jenny Heppert.
Huge congrats to former Knights, middle blocker Jenny Heppert and volunteer assistant Tyler Adams, who were married on January 3 in Hawaii!— UCF Volleyball (@UCF_Volleyball) January 9, 2013
Taylor McColskey - Houston Assistant Coach
McColskey just finished his first season as an assistant coach at Houston, helping the Cougars to a historic season, winning the AAC Championship and making the round of 16.
Prior to Houston, McColskey spent three seasons at Mississippi State (2019-21) where he helped the Bulldogs make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history in 2021. McColskey also spent two seasons at Georgia State (2017-18), three seasons at Georgia Tech (2014-16) and a season at Jacksonville (2013).
He is also a native of Jupiter, Florida, per his Twitter bio, and came up coaching club volleyball teams around the state from 2007-2013.
Julie Darty Dennis - Mississippi State Head Coach
Introducing the 2021 SEC Coach of the Year...— Mississippi State Volleyball (@HailStateVB) November 28, 2021
Darty-Dennis has helped build the Bulldogs program from an SEC doormat to a contender, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history in 2021 after going 25-5 overall and 16-2 in SEC play. The Bulldogs ranked as high as 23rd nationally in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches’ Poll during the 2021 season.
Darty-Dennis was named SEC Coach of Year in 2021. Prior to Mississippi State, she was head coach at Jacksonville (2014-17), leading the Dolphins to the 2014 A-SUN Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
Darty-Dennis is also an Orlando native, as she got her start as an assistant coach at Lake Mary (Fla.) High School. At the same time, she helped with two club teams in the Orlando area. Her sister is the athletic director at Oviedo High School.
Sam Erger - SMU Head Coach
Perhaps Mohajir wants a head coach with Big 12 ties like Sam Erger, who just finished her first season as head coach at SMU going 22-10 on the season.
Prior to SMU, Erger served as an assistant coach at Baylor for seven seasons. She knows how to recruit Big 12, as she helped bring in top 10 recruiting classes in her two last years in Waco.
Chris Poole - Florida State Head Coach
Florida State enters tonight's match with Duke 16-6 in the state of North Carolina under head coach Chris Poole. pic.twitter.com/Z9K9KROARd— FSU Volleyball (@FSU_Volleyball) October 9, 2015
Both of Mohajir’s coaching hires thus far, Gus Malzahn and Sytia Messer, had some ties to his alma mater, Arkansas State.
Should he take a similar approach to this latest coaching vacancy, the cream of the crop of former Arkansas State volleyball coaches is current Florida State head coach Chris Poole, who would come in with 36 years of head coaching experience.
Whilst Mohajir was either attending classes or participating in football practices in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Poole was in the midst of leading its volleyball team to five consecutive conference championships between the American South and the Sun Belt. (Poole actually coached the Red Wolves to four wins over UCF from 1990-1991, when both programs were in the American South and Sun Belt together.)
This caught the eye of the Arkansas Razorbacks, who made Poole its volleyball program’s first head coach. In 14 seasons there, he made it to the NCAA Tournament nine times. Since 2008, Poole has been in Tallahassee, taking the Seminoles to 13 NCAA Tournaments. He’s made it to the Sweet 16 in five of those tournaments with one Final Four appearance in 2011.
Travers Green - Wright State Head Coach
Green just finished his first season as head coach at Wright State, going 28-4, winning the Horizon Conference title, and going to the NCAA Tournament. Green was on Mississippi State’s staff as an assistant coach when the Bulldogs won 25 games and made the NCAA Tournament.
Green is an Orlando native and has strong ties to Florida, serving four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of South Florida. Green’s collegiate coaching career began as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida International University (2012-13) Green also spent time as head coach of Lake Mary High School, his alma mater, where he posted a 61-23 record in three years at the helm. His teams won the conference title twice and earned a district championship in 2010.