"Look who fell into my lap this time! Jim Mora!" - Stephen Dunn
State of the Athletic Departments: An Analysis of the PAC-12 Athletic Departments
By now, we are all disgustingly familiar with our
Athletic Director, Chianti Dan and we know which category the Morgan Center belongs to under his leadership or lack thereof. Despite the presence of some hard working good Bruins in the building who represent our four letters proudly, their hard work is overshadowed by the overall incompetence of their boss. We looked at several criteria, including conference changes, coaching hires and general buzz around each university's athletic programs. We left balancing the budget out of the equation, because let's be honest here shouldn't that be a prerequisite?
Let's take a look at the state of the Pac-12 athletic departments and where they belong on this list.
*Southern Cal was left out of this discussion for obvious reasons; they cheat.
University of Oregon - Athletic Director Rob Mullens
What is there not to love about Oregon's Athletic Department and the way the Athletic Director handles business in Eugene? Sure, Mullens is the beneficiary of Daddy Phil Knight and Nike money, but the entire department has been reaping the benefits of the Moos/Bellotti/Kelly football renaissance. Oregon's continually expanding state-of-the-art facilities are the envy of the nation, there is a new basketball arena that is not the old arena under glass and a great marketing department that highlights the many looks (love ‘em or hate ‘em, you must admit that they are impressionable and help recruiting efforts) and even dares to go viral with the obnoxious Duck itself. This is how an athletic department and marketing department should be run. Apparently if you ask our marketing department, sandwich boards, terrible shirts and not having any UCLA items at an Adidas store are all great marketing tactics in West Los Angeles though.
University of Arizona - Athletic Director Greg Byrne
In my opinion, Greg Byrne is one of the best athletic directors in the nation. Despite not having the resources of a UCLA or Oregon, he just gets it done without strapping it on every day. Under his leadership, Arizona Stadium was renovated with new football offices and locker rooms, a name-brand head coach in Rich Rodriguez was hired to take over for a perennially underperforming Mike Stoops and last time I checked, Arizona's basketball program was in better shape than UCLA's basketball program under Howland's direction. Arizona also has plenty of buzz surrounding its baseball program, which won the 2012 CWS after making the move to Hi-Corbett Field. The future is bright in Tucson with Byrne at the helm.
University of Utah - Athletics Director & Special Assistant To the President Chris Hill
Utah's athletic department would be higher on the list, had the football program rebounded from a down year last year but historically, their athletic department has been strong. Hill has been the AD at Utah since 1987 and overall, has done a fantastic job in Salt Lake City. Hill hired not one, but three National Coaches of the Year in Rick Majerus, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham (how many National Coaches has Chianti Dan lured to Westwood?). Hill foresaw Utah joining the Pac-12, and saw his football program win two BCS bowl games (over Pitt and Utah) while UCLA was going to third tier bowl games under Dorrell. The Runnin' Utes men's basketball program also advanced to the Sweet 16 several times under his watch. Not only is he an AD, he is also a special assistant to the university president. Do you think Chancellor Block knows who Dan Guerrero is and what his responsibilities are? LOL
Also noteworthy, is that Utah is the only Pac-12 school to be sponsored by UnderArmour, which has been aggressively marketing Utah gear in Salt Lake City. I thought that UCLA is an Adidas school but judging by the lack of Adidas gear in southern California Adidas stores, I'm not entirely sure.
Washington State University - Director of Athletics Bill Moos
Moos was one of the best athletic directors in the nation, prior to his arrival in Pullman. As Oregon's AD, he laid the groundwork for Bellotti/Mullens to reap the benefits of new facilities and renovated facilities that have elevated Oregon's national footrprint as an athletic department. His hire of Mike Leach, while not without controversy, generated much needed buzz around the program and alas, the Cougars beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup. While the circumstances are always a bit more challenging in Pullman, Moos has been a visible and vocal Athletic Director, as witnessed by how he handled Marquess Wilson's departure very tactfully. He will do big things in Pullman if Leach can change the culture of the
Oregon State University - Athletic Director Bob De Carolis
Overseeing an athletic department in Corvallis, Oregon may arguably be the toughest gig in the Pac-12 (Pullman folks, I hear you). De Carolis was hired in 2002 and under his leadership, the football team had its first winning football season in nearly 3 decades and the basketball team had its first winning season in 15 years. How's that for a turnaround? De Carolis was behind hiring and keeping Mike Riley who orchestrated one of the greatest turnarounds in college football this year. Oregon State has been a perennial basketball cellar dweller, but Craig Robinson posted a winning record last season. Reser Stadium has been renovated and expanded, new facilities have been constructed (including a Student Success Center) and a new student-athlete lounge was opened. In addition, the Tommy Prothro Football Complex (does the name sound familiar?) was renovated. According to the OSU official website, under his watch, contributions for scholarships to the Beaver Student Fund increased from $6 million to over $11 million. How's that for being proactive? If it can be done in Corvallis, it can be done in Los Angeles.
University of Washington - Director of Atheltics Scott Woodward
Woodward has been at UW since 2008, and it seems like the days of the Huskies going winless in football, are over for now. Woodward spearheaded and fundraised for a $250 million athletic renovation and building project, which includes renovation of beautiful Husky Stadium. Instead of playing home games at Pullman (remember when we played our "home" games at the decrepit LA Sports Arena across the street from Southern Cal's campus?), the Huskies played the 2012 season at the loud Century Link Stadium, home of the Seattle Seahawks. The jury is still out on Steve Sarkisian, but there is no denying that the Athletic Department has been proactive in terms of facility renovations and luring important assistant coaching hires (Tosh Lupoi and Justin Wilcox).
Arizona State University - Vice President for University Athletics and Athletic Director Steve Patterson
After enduring years of Lisa Love, ASU's version of Dan Guerrero, Patterson is attempting to right the ship with Todd Graham, who seems to find a new dream job every year or so. The jury is still out on Patterson as an AD but the fact that the university's president, Michael M. Crow realized Love's incompetence and addressed the issue, makes him a better administrator than Chancellor Gene Block.
Stanford University - Jaquish and Kenninger Athletic Director Bernard Muir
Could Muir be the next Dan Guerrero? I sure hope so! Muir was instrumental behind the Tyrone Willingham hire at Notre Dame and at Stanford he inherited an outstanding football program that David Shaw also inherited from the Jim Harbaugh and Bob Bowlsby regime. He comes from the University of Delaware (DII football) while Guerrero came from UC Irvine which has a science library. He is a recent hire, having replaced Bob Bowlsby who left the Farm to become the Big-12 Commissioner. Bowlsby was a great AD for Stanford, who resurrected the basketball and football programs so Muir has big shoes to fill.
The Downright Incompetent
University of Colorado - Athletic Director Mike Bohn
Surprised to see our new PAC-12 friends on this list? Whiffing on the last two coaching hires will qualify an athletic director as downright incompetent but only in Boulder and Westwood, will the coaches take the fall while the AD escapes the axe. Bohn reacted to the changing college football landscape by joining the Pac-12 and submitted to increasing fan impatience by sacrificing the jobs of Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree after dismal seasons (sound familiar?). Tad Boyle wasn't too shabby of a hire for CU basketball either but he also fell in Bohn's lap (also sound familiar?). It seems like Bohn has done enough to keep him in Boulder by hiring other good non-revenue generating sports head coaches, despite offers from other universities so that's what sets him above the last two schools. Very awkward press conference with Embree, Bohn and the CU chancellor.
University of California - Athletic Director Sandy Barbour
Another University of California school makes the list for being downright incompetent and embarrassing. A costly stadium makeover that the university is struggling to pay for? Check. Another dismal football season despite good talent on both sides of the ball? Check. Head football coach fired despite a $7 million buyout that an already cash-strapped athletic department has to pay for? Yup. Cutting sports? Been there, done that. At least she's familiar with social media, she has a Twitter account. Barbour also hired Mike Montgomery who does more with less than say...Ben Howland. That's more than we can say about Dan Guerrero and his "Word from Westwood"
Athletic Director Chianti Dan
UCLA has always had the potential to be THE premiere PAC-12 program, with the media exposure, the big city media spotlight and the great history behind its athletic programs. Therefore, why isn't UCLA's Athletic Department on par with Oregon's? Two fateful words that should make all knowledgeable and competent UCLA Bruin fans shudder. Dan Guerrero.
What exactly does Chianti Dan do besides take credit for others' work and for benefitting briefly from coaching hires falling into his lap? Hire crisis management firms, conduct feasibility studies and stick Pauley Pavilion under glass? Guerrero is stubborn and tonedeaf, and the Morgan Center cannot even qualify as reactionary because the department will only react if sh-really hits the fan and Bruins Nation in conjunction with the mythical high level donors voice their displeasure the Sports Illustrated men's basketball scandal, the Debacle in the Desert, 50-0, Veto Seto and "What's wrong with Spaulding?" come to mind. Also, wasn't this the same guy who let Nikki Caldwell walk too? How are our historically great men's basketball and track & field programs doing?
Out of the four revenue generating sports head coaches he has hired, two have been abysmal failures (Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel) and the other two coaches practically begged him for the job (Ben Howland and Jim Mora) after the first few options fell through due to farcical coaching searches. While Mora has had a successful first season, we have been experiencing diminishing returns from Ben Howland since the 2008 season, yet Guerrero seems to be looking for any excuse to keep him around. We've had diminishing returns since Guerrero stepped foot on campus. If the Chancellor was halfway competent and not as tonedeaf as Chianti Dan himself, we'd have had a new Athletic Director yesterday. The marketing department (if we still have one) is just terrible, as witnessed by the sandwich boards promoting upcoming games (including Homecoming). FIRE DAN.
* Southern Cal - Athletic Director Pat Haden
Lane Kiffin is a great head coach, he and his father just needs a few years to turn the program around. Cheat on.