The Omaha World-Herald provides a great insight into how coaching searches are handled today. Needless to say, it's nothing like the circus Steve Pederson ran us through four years ago.
The World-Herald uses the example of the Minnesota Gophers' courting of Tubby Smith as head basketball coach. They used a search firm to do much of the early work of identifying potential candidates and then working with the agents, leaving the coach and athletic director outside the loop. And thus, giving them the ability to disassociate themselves from the process. The coaches can continue to do their current jobs, and the athletic director can continue to evaluate his current coach, and compare him to the potential candidates.