So when enough people starting emailing, asking in person, texting and even tweeting about or inquiring if I had inside knowledge about Bishop Manogue's interest in filling its vacant head football coaching position with Reed's Ernie Howren, I thought it was time to ask around.
Paul Mills was forced out/stepped down as Bishop Manogue's football coach last month after a disappointing 3-5 Miners season, the second-straight sub-.500 season for Reno's private Catholic school.
The vacancy cranked up the rumor mill around the Truckee Meadows and now its spinning in full force. The name of former highly successful Hug coach Rollins Stallworth has led the rumor parade all fall as many wondered if Mills' days were numbered at Manogue given the dwindling success and small athlete numbers in the Miners' gridiron program.
But over the past two weeks, Howren's name has surfaced time and again. People I like and trust in northern Nevada's prep sports community continue to ask if I've heard if Howren has applied for or even accepted the position.
"It's all very flattering to be honest with you," Howren said in a phone interview Monday night. "I've had people communicate with my friends and ask if I would be interested and others ask if I've applied for the job. It's very flattering that people are even throwing my name in the mix."
Bishop Manogue Principal Rick Harris said Wednesday morning the school has not closed the application process. He also said it would not be appropriate to comment on specific applicants but that he was pleased with the posting's applicant pool, adding that the position is receiving quality applicants from both in state and out of state.
Despite an email from a reader to the contrary, Howren said he did not turn in an application for the Manogue job.
Due to the delicate nature of hiring, it's not often you get straight honest answers from the people doing the hiring. Who knows how high Manogue's interest is in pursuing Howren. I can tell you this; Miners supporters wold be foolish to not at least gauge Howren's interest. He'd be a great fit at Manogue if the private school could pry him loose from Reed.
Howren has built a great program at Reed. If it's not on par with the great Wooster programs of the 1980s and '90s and McQueen programs of the 1990s and early 2000s, it's close.
Howren took over the RHS football program in the fall of 2001. Reed has finished first or second in the High Desert League and hosted a first-round regional playoff game every year since 2003. The east Sparks school is the winningest program in northern Nevada in that span.
Reed has won five North Region titles under Howren and four of the last five, including three straight. In the last five years, Reed has produced a 54-14 record, a .794 winning percentage. Four of those 14 losses have come against five-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman and five more have been against out-of-state competition.
If Howren can build that kind of program at Reed, a school with the worst game and practice fields in the area, and one of the oldest weight room complexes in the region, I'm pretty sure he could find success at Manogue, which boasts arguably the nicest facilities in the region.
However, if you listen to Howren, it's hard to imagine he's going anywhere.
"Manogue is an amazing school," Howren said. "It's been a fixture here in the northern Nevada community for years. It's a great school. You have to have respect for that. But I've been a Raider for 17 years. My daughter goes to school at Reed High School. We are Raiders. That's who we are and we're not going anywhere."
I believe Howren 100 percent when he says that. The man seems to be honest to a fault. Even when I ask him a question and set him up to exaggerate a bit and give me a juicy quote, he's never done it.
Now, with all that said, if Harris sat down with Howren, offered him the job with a salary raise over his Washoe County School District earnings and bought out the remaining years he needs for retirement, I expect Howren would seriously listen.
I don't believe that has happened nor I do I think it will. That would likely take a $45,000-plus retirement buy-out check. I don't see many of the loftiest programs around the country cutting that check, let alone Bishop Manogue.
Additionally, Howren likes where he's at. He isn't looking to fly the coop because he hates it there. Minutes after his Raiders lost in the state final Dec. 7, Howren was already taking about Reed's bright future.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we as a program can only get stronger in the coming years," he said. "I'm excited about the groups that are coming."
Mark my words, Ernie Howren will be coaching at Reed in the fall of 2014 and beyond.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's Managing-Sports Editor. He can be reached via email at: email@example.com