PORT Adelaide has called on a wealth of experience from David Parkin, Tom Harley and Peter Schwab to help it find a new coach, but has admitted the process is as much about the candidates judging the club as it is about the panel assessing the candidates.
Parkin, a four-time premiership coach, will be an adviser to the panel, but will not be involved in the recommendation to the board.
Schwab, the AFL director of coaching the past two years and a former Hawthorn coach, and Harley, the AFL NSW/ACT general manager and Geelong great, will join board members Bruce Abernethy and Kevin Osborn, club chief executive Keith Thomas and football general manager Peter Rohde on the panel.
Abernethy and Rohde were part of the process that reappointed and sacked Mark Williams, and the panel that selected Matthew Primus, who, after two years, was told he was no longer required. The new process also coincides with an expected damning report at the end of the season on the running of the club, especially its football operations department, which includes Rohde.
Thomas said he was not totally open to any new coach arriving with his own panel of assistant coaches.
"I actually have been really pleased with the progress of the group we brought in last year," Thomas said.
"They are developing nicely and I don't subscribe to the fact the incoming coach should dictate what you're doing with the entire structure. We will have a discussion about it but, no [I don't like it]."
With a football department involved in the appointment of a new coach and, seemingly, a mandate that the current assistants remain, the report on the entire club may present conflicting reviews, adding to the complexity of Port's search and possibly leaving potential candidates unsure about the club.
Given Port's financial woes in recent seasons and flagging attendances, which hit a record low against the West Coast Eagles on Sunday, the report may have a further serious long-term impact on the club, especially relating to sponsorship and membership.
When asked whether candidates would be measuring Port more than the panel would be measuring them, Thomas said: "There's a bit of both, to be honest. Any prospective candidate will want to know what they are walking into. We're very open about that."
Port would not demand that if the choice was a current assistant coach that he leave his current club immediately. "I do not think that you can demand that. We would sit down and work that out with the club and the person," Thomas said.
This could be the scenario if the frontrunner for the coaching job, Rodney Eade, an assistant at Collingwood, was hired.
The timeline is more crucial for Port than it was for Adelaide when last year it appointed Brenton Sanderson, who chose to leave Geelong a week before the grand final.
Thomas said there were different models that it should consider, including a succession plan, under which Eade or former Western Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry Wallace would train someone younger and inexperienced along the way.