Why? Some longtime fans feel a grand tradition may be at a crossroads.
Few events can galvanize a community in the Deep South more than high school football. For a few hours on Friday night, differences are set aside and everyone becomes imbued by a shared emotional unity.
A high school football game can be a rallying point for the community and, over the years, there are few places in Georgia where this scenario has played out better than at Marietta's venerable Northcutt Stadium. However, three losing records over the past four seasons seem to have lowered the enthusiasm level and many Marietta fans feel it's a critical time for choosing the right man to fill the head coach position.
Wisely, to keep from chasing off any contenders for the job, Hall isn't dropping any names. But, he says he has a "good pool of applications;" and if he delivers the coach perceived to be a sound choice, there's reason to expect a revival among Blue Devil fans - many of whom are hopeful the new coach will have name recognition built on a solid winning record.
"Winning is important in Marietta," says Chris Poston, the developer with Traton Homes in Marietta who was the center for Marietta All-American quarterback Eric Zeier in 1990. "Winning is important to retain the tradition.
"It's very important," he added, when asked about bringing in a coach with a proven record. "It goes back to the winning tradition. I don't want to say we need a coach that will bring us back to prominence because I think (Coach) Friday (Richards) has done a very good job. But we need a proven winner that will help us get back to dominating Cobb County.
"(A big-name coach) will give people reason to come back and see what's happening. But it goes back to winning. The big-name coach then has to win to keep up that excitement."
That feeling is shared by Bob Lewis, general manager for the Marietta Board of Lights and Water, a 1967 Marietta alumnus and former player. When asked if a high-profile coach would rejuvenate interest in Blue Devil football, he responded: "Absolutely! I think that's the beginning of making the program, or keeping the program at the level it's always been.
"I think Mariettans will get solidly behind that person, and I think it will be great for the city. It's what brings people together."
Former Blue Devil gridder Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin - who admits that, at 6-foot-5, 150 pounds, he was "too fragile" to continue his football career and switched to basketball as a junior - is straight to the point on hiring a proven coach. "I think it would get the program jump-started."
Steve Lee, a Marietta alumnus and community football coach, says of a big-name coach: "It's paramount. We need someone with proven head coaching experience who can put a staff together. ... I can't imagine hiring an assistant."
Obviously, a record as a winner will surely be the foremost criteria for the new coach. But you can bet Blue Devil fans will examine the fine print on his resume, searching for intangible qualities of which they've grown accustomed.
HISTORY PROVES Marietta coaches will reach longevity milestones. Over the course of the past year, Marietta has had three coaches retire who each served more than 30 years at the school - head basketball coach Charlie Hood, head track coach Roscoe Googe and, most recently, head football coach James "Friday" Richards. All were highly respected not only for the records they produced, but also for the roles they served in molding young athletes and students in the classroom while also serving as ambassadors for the school in the community.
These are qualities that can balance out a resume with a less impressive won/lost record in the opinion of some veteran fans.
"I hope that will be part of a search and I hope we can get someone who wants to be at Marietta and not just take the job because it's a great job," said the Rev. Sam Storey, retired minister at Marietta First Methodist Church and an avid Blue Devil fan. "We don't want someone to use this job as a stepping stone.
"I personally want someone who is involved with the community. That's my wish. I want a total community person."
Rev. Storey feels that hiring a proven winner is important, but certainly not the only consideration.
"I'm not sure about that," he said when asked abut the necessity of name recognition. "Nobody knew much about Coach (Mark) Richt when he came to Georgia and he's done a great job."
Pete Waldrep, director of development for the Marietta Housing Authority and the starting Blue Devil center in 1967, Marietta's only state championship season, adds another slant. "You can hire a big name, which means he's been successful, or you could hire that big name's offensive or defensive coordinator and still get people excited about the program."
State Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines of Marietta - whose son, Hap Hines, was the star Blue Devil kicking specialist in the mid-'90s and went on to fill the same role at Georgia - echoes sentiments similar to those expressed by Storey and Waldrep.
"I think you have to find a top-notch coach who is involved with the community," Hines said. "I know that in a lot of towns, you have coaches who are an integral part of the community. When you do that ... one of the real pillars of our community has been Friday night."
NONE OF THESE SEASONED FANS feel the full charge of emotional electricity at Northcutt Stadium can't be restored.
Pointing to importance of Marietta football to the community, Tumlin says: "I think it is still a strong force to bring the community together. When our kids were small, we'd take them (to the game) on a Friday night. People from all around the community were there. It brings people who obviously have a common interest together on a pretty fall night.
"It's inexpensive entertainment, too. If you go pay $20 for a Braves ticket ... you don't sit with people you know.
"I think the passion is still there. It just needs to be rejuvenated to a certain extent. I think it's there ... but I think it could be brought out more in the open, so to speak.
"I think the potential is still there to have a packed house at Northcutt Stadium. When the program's winning ... the band grows, the cheerleaders bring more people, the touchdown club grows ... all the little ancillary things increase with good leadership.
"It makes people feel good about the system. It makes them feel good about the school. I think the support just spreads."
Lewis reflects on the '67 team and Marietta's only state championship season and says the passion for Blue Devil football can be revitalized. "Yes, I think they (fans) are passionate because, again, I think it's what makes the community," he says. "It's that passion for Friday night at Northcutt Stadium. And you see people of all ages there. You see people in their 80s ... and you see people who graduated two or three years ago. They're all there with their families ... they're there with their friends. It's just something that's close to all of us."
"I think (Marietta football) is absolutely essential," says Neil Barfield, chairman of the Marietta Schools Foundation, who is a former Blue Devil quarterback and a 64-year season ticket holder. "In my day, Friday night football was everything, and we need to get that back.
"Passionate supporters are always there, like I have been for the last 60 years."
Hopefully, Hall, along with Marietta Principal Leigh Colburn and others involved with the search process, can find the right man who, with a capable staff and the necessary resources, can turn the program around. And once again, football games at Northcutt Stadium will be the rallying point for the Marietta community.
Otis Brumby III is general manager of the Marietta Daily Journal and Neighbor Newspapers. He is a 1999 graduate of Marietta High, where he quarterbacked the Blue Devils for two seasons.