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We’ve all been at that uncomfortable moment in our lives when we’ve had to meet the parents of the girl we’re dating. The relative ease of that event coincides directly with how much of a slap the guy before you was, because that’s pretty much your direct comparison to start out.
If you’re lucky, the previous guy she was dating had no job, wasn’t looking, bathed under once per day, and lived with his parents all day eating Doritos and playing video games. At that point, you’re playing with house money for the most part.
The alternative side of it is that the guy left her once he got out of med school, got a good job, and felt like he was going in a different life direction, so he broke up with her. You may want to tread lightly with that one.
Whoever gets the Texas athletic director job is one lucky dude, because he’s dealing with the former rather than the latter, so to speak. The relative ease of entering into any relationship, job, athletic role, etc., is tethered directly in some way to whom you’re replacing. If they were universally beloved, you’re in for a tough road to hoe.
Texas’ next guy will take over for Steve Patterson, whom a lot of people seemed to passionately dislike for a myriad of reasons. Aside from that, Texas’ athletic department has two good young coaches in the cash cow sports, one in basketball that everyone, everywhere, has been trying to pry away from his school for the last five years.
Also, the place flat out prints money.
Assume, if you will, that you’ve been given the task to find the next AD at Texas. I won’t say you work for a search firm because it baffles me how guys can pass off spending six figures to have someone else do their job for them. Basically, you’re wasting a ton of money to make someone else a scapegoat if it doesn’t work out.
You have a blank check (which … Texas probably does) and just need to get it right. So you pull out the list in your drawer that everyone has for every employee they’ve got if they’re smart, hedging their bets in case they leave and in no particular order …
Tom Jurich, Louisville
Jurich is basically the Taylor Swift of athletic directors. Everyone, everywhere, seemingly wants a piece of him. However, each time someone comes calling, Louisville convinces him that “You Belong With Me.” The intriguing part of Texas for Jurich would be that his old coach Charlie Strong is there manning the football program, so no issues there, and you have Shaka Smart and a ready-made basketball success. Since taking the post at Louisville in 1997, they’ve jumped to the Big East from mid major land, become a college football that went unbeaten in BCS bowls in the BCS era, and then when the Big East was in quicksand, said “I Knew You Were Trouble” and scooted Louisville to the ACC.
The rub though is, why would he leave a “Blank Space” for Louisville to fill after all he’s done there, and there’s still possibly “Bad Blood” from when the Big 12 didn’t even entertain Louisville for expansion, even though that would have been smart. See how I did that there?
Greg Byrne, Arizona
If Jurich is Taylor Swift, then Byrne is Courtney Cole, who doesn’t get near the publicity commensurate with her talent… if, somewhere, there is someone who actually rates and writes about athletic directors and all.
Since taking the post in 2010, Byrne has overseen the completion of a football stadium project and McKale Center (basketball) renovations going above a combined $150 million. On top of that, he had the baseball team get their games moved to a picturesque minor league stadium and now, they’re hosting NCAA tournament games. Oh, and they won the baseball national championship in 2012. That would play well at Texas. He cut his teeth as an AD at Mississippi State and is relatively young. He has success upon success upon success.
Mack Brown, former Texas coach, now with ESPN
Yes, I’ve heard this name thrown around, so just give him a dial. The good part about Brown is that he’s great with people, so all that uncomfortable elbow rubbing with boosters and what not that an AD has to do, he’d be a natural at. He also gets along with Strong. Still, this would be a hire from the HR logic of, “I want this guy to be a part of what we do and I’ll find some place for him, because he’ll succeed wherever.” Brown hasn’t actually been an AD, and it’s significantly more than hugging donors and kissing babies. That said, Brown understands Texas football and Texas football culture. Would he want to go back though after the messy divorce? Stats on re-marrying the same person can’t be good. And does he want to coach again somewhere else? Questions for him, when you get him on the line.
Curt Apsey, Boise State
This one might be one hell of a tough sell considering he just took the position at Boise State this June, but Apsey is known as an electric fundraiser and was the senior associate AD from 1998 to 2014, which is when Boise State went from “they play football in Boise?” to an oddity with blue turf to a national power. His last stint was a short one … at Carroll College in Montana, where he was there for less than a calendar year but the program won an award for the Frontier Conference’s best athletic program. At Boise, he was instrumental in raising funds to help build four different athletic centers, including one for football. I really can’t believe we’ve gotten to the point where we’re analyzing athletic directors. People seem to like this guy a lot.
Ed Stewart, Big 12 Assistant Commissioner for Football and Student Services
The man’s in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, so he figures to know something about the sport. Apart from that, pulling someone from the league office certainly wouldn’t hurt. Stewart was the Associate Athletic Director of Athletics for Administration (man holds LONG job titles, and probably has 8 x 11 sized business cards) at Missouri and has a background as a Director of Life Skills for Missouri as well as an academic counseling background at Michigan State. In this day and age, you can’t have too many guys up the food chain that truly understand how to work with student athletes and relate to them. Guessing this is an off-the-radar idea, but seriously, is there an “on the radar” idea for athletic directors?
The one thing Texas will want is an AD who will have the passion and the energy for the job. All of the above seem to exhibit that, at least professionally. We all don’t golf or anything. They’d all possibly be stepping into the most favorable situation you possibly can in any relationship in life. So go ahead and pick up that phone. Your girl’s parents want to meet the new dude.