Source: Rice interviews D-II coach

Updated: January 16, 2007, 9:52 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Rice University officials on Tuesday interviewed Division II Valdosta (Ga.) State coach Chris Hatcher, as the Owls seek a replacement for Todd Graham, who abruptly left after one season to become coach at Tulsa.

Hatcher, who has produced record-setting offenses at Valdosta State and led the Blazers to the 2004 Division II national championship, is believed to be the second candidate interviewed by Rice. Hatcher met with Owls athletics director Chris Del Conte and other school officials in Houston on Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The Owls' search committee on Sunday met with Paul Randolph, the defensive coordinator and associate head coach on Graham's staff.

Hatcher has a 76-12 record in seven seasons at Valdosta State, his alma mater. He worked three seasons at Kentucky, where he tutored quarterback Tim Couch, and one season at Central Florida, where he coached current Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

Other candidates believed to be on Rice's list of possible replacements include Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and former Denver Broncos defensive line coach Andre Patterson.

Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez was contacted by the Rice search committee but declined to interview for the job.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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