I’m a few hours late to the panic, but I was having log in issues so pretend like you’re reading this article either last night or this morning after you learned about the Woodward news.
With that being said, lord have mercy some of you need to calm down. I can’t sugarcoat how much it sucks to lose a qualified athletic administrator (when it feels like there are so few of them out there) like Scott Woodward. He’s a good AD and LSU is lucky to have him, but it’s not the end of the damn world and to my knowledge [checks notes] yes Jimbo Fisher is still our head coach and has not purchased a houseboat on the bayou and nor is he currently cooking up a pot of etouffee. Let’s break this down:
Let’s appreciate him for what he’s done. Was a key instrumental cog in hiring us Jimbo, there’s no doubt about that. For the first time in a long time it feels like our athletic department has some alignment. We got rid of Kennedy and have a darn good coach in the fold (and while yes sure that happened under Woodward, I think Buzz would have crawled over broken glass to come here regardless of who the AD was). We owe him a debt of gratitude.
All due respect to the folks reporting a giant rift between Sharp and Woodward being the catalyst for the change, but I just don’t buy it. I think the timing was right for Woodward to make a move—in that his current boss, President Mike Young (who brought him from Washington) is on his way out, and his alma mater needed him. Take a look at this article from Ross Dellenger. Specifically look at this quote:
The Alleva-for-Woodward swap was one driven by at least a portion of these 16 board members. In an election year for the man who appointed them, they flexed their influence, jumping at Woodward’s interest in the position days ago by quickly hammering out a deal with him over the last several days. This all didn’t just happen on Wednesday. The courtship began nearly a month ago, when university leaders asked themselves a question: How do we stabilize an athletic department with such an unpopular leader made more unpopular by the controversy surrounding Wade? It wasn’t difficult for those at LSU to test Woodward’s interests. He is an LSU alum, born and raised in Baton Rouge, whose in-state connections run deep. He visits Louisiana often. He owns a camp on the bayou, and his parents still live in Baton Rouge. This is where he laid his foundation for this transition, becoming the pet project of future NCAA president Mark Emmert, then LSU’s chancellor, who made the young political lobbyist his right-hand man in Baton Rouge. Woodward mostly advised Emmert on policy and government appropriations before following him to Seattle when Emmert became the president of the University of Washington; from 2008 to ’16, Woodward served as the Huskies’ athletic director. How close are Emmert and Woodward? Woodward’s son married Emmert’s daughter.
The courtship began a month ago. This wasn’t the result of an argument or something like that. In the same way that it was a no-brainer for Virginia Tech fans to realize that Buzz was leaving their job to come “home” it’s should be a no brainer for us to realize that Woodward is heading back to a place where he has deep deep roots. Could we have kept him? Maybe by making him the highest paid (well second highest paid because Swarbrick at Notre Dame makes 3 mil) AD in the country...but (and I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes) is he worth that money? Is he worth 1.5-1.6 million a year (current salary is 935k)?
He’s going home. Everything else is window dressing to that simple fact that he’s going back to the town where his family lives.
Based on the reaction yesterday you would have thought that Jimbo had already packed up his bags and walked out the damn door. Jimbo is still our head coach. Yes his relationship with Woodward was instrumental in him actually coming to College Station, but he’s here and he’s got no reason to leave. He’s got the resources, facilities, and the entire damn world in his hands in this town. Of course he’ll need to approve the next athletic director hire...that’s a no-brainer. Woodward got him here, and 75 million keeps him here. He’s here.
Plus, last time I checked Ed Orgeron won a Fiesta Bowl and 10 games last year. There’s no opening at LSU, and if/when there is 1) if they come after Jimbo that mean’s he’s doing something good at A&M and 2) you really really REALLY think we’re gonna lose a bidding war to LSU?
Woodward did good things for us. It’s time to move on to the next candidate. Below are a few off the top of my head (and let’s be real, I know nothing about anything so please don’t take this as inside information)
- Kirby Hocutt-Texas Tech: Tough pull. Dude makes 1.4 mil right now but (football aside) he’s got that athletic department in good shape, and I think Matt Wells was a solid hire.
- Jamie Pollard-Iowa State: Can’t deny his hiring ability in Hoiberg, Prohm, and Campbell. Think his salary is around 700k or so so he could be affordable.
- Bill Moos-Nebraska: Total pipe dream because he just got there, but again hiring ability. Just brought Hoiberg on board and got Scott Frost too (although I bet that wasn’t too tough)
- Mitch Barnhart-Kentucky: Makes around what Woodward made, and has the understanding of what it takes to manage a high profile program led by a coach that he wants to keep for a long long time.
- Dan Radkovich-Clemson: Why would he leave there to come here? Radakovich has familiarity with A&M...he was a finalist (while at Georgia Tech) for our AD job when we hired Eric Hyman back in 2012. Additionally he worked with Jimbo while at LSU as Senior Associate AD from 2001-2006. He’s done wonders for Clemson facilities and providing Dabo the resources and support he needs. Don’t know if he’d be willing to leave but I know we’ll make the call.
- Stephanie Rempe-Deputy Director of Athletics/Justin Moore-Senior Associate Athletic Director: The wild card here is the impending presidential search, and what that might do to senior staff. So perhaps the safe bet is to rid the momentum we have, and hire folks that are familiar with what A&M is doing right now and that our coaches (namely Jimbo) are familiar with too. Rempe and Moore both are highly thought of in the AD and will likely be Athletic Directors themselves before too long.
Breathe. We’re going to be fine. John Sharp probably isn't the easiest guy to work with but it’s a damn hard thing to manage when someone has an offer to go to their home town and lead their alma mater’s athletic department. Losing Woodward sucks, but we will be fine.