Hopefully time will tell that August 9, 2016 was a landmark day for Purdue sports.
By now we all know the news. Purdue surprised seemingly everyone in naming Georgia Tech athletic direct Mike Bobinski as Morgan Burke's replacement. For the first time in almost a quarter century Purdue has a new AD, and it comes at a critical time for the schools' athletic department. Yes, Burke has done some wonderful things with academics being a top priority. I don't want to ever discount the performance of our students in the classroom because their Purdue degree is critical. Unfortunately, Burke is leaving under a dark cloud of his own making:
The incoming athletic director must confront a downturn in attendance that prompted Purdue to lower its projected football revenues by $12.7 million over the next decade in that report.
Yes, Burke has accomplished a minor miracle. He has taken a power 5 football program in the Big Ten, with all of that TV money coming in, and somehow has conjured up a $12.7 million shortfall. The thing he always touted as his best accomplishment, financials and being self-sustaining, will end up being a net negative because of where the football program is as he is leaving.
That is what Bobinski is coming in to face. At the press conference he said and did all the right things. If you want to view the whole thing you can right here through Purdue's facebook page. Here are the bits and pieces that stood out:
"First and foremost, I have encountered countless Purdue people with pride and that care so deeply. Gives you a chance to be successful."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
"there are no pretenders in the Big Ten and at the power five level. You have to have an all-in commitment."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
"We need everybody with us. I look forward to earning the fan's trust."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
"Purdue is philosophically a fit for me. The focus on integrity & academic success and the grounded nature of this place resonates with me."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
"This program is positioned in the starting blocks to really take off in the years ahead."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
"we're never going to match Ohio State in spending, but we must invest to have our sports to be successful at a high level."— Hammer & Rails (@HammerAndRails) August 9, 2016
Again, it was your typical press conference fare. That's what happens in situations like this. The new guy will be praised, his predecessor will be praised, and everyone currently in the regime will be praised. When asked about Darrell Hazell Bobinski said all the right things and that he was looking forward to working with him, but he ended with the ominous, "In the end, my job as an AD is to evaluate programs".
And really, that is where we will first judge him. He has a background as a fundraiser and primarily a basketball AD. He made some big moves at Xavier with hiring Thad Matta and then Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech. he hasn't hired a football coach since Akron, however. He was only at Georgia Tech for 3 years, but they did play in the Orange Bowl (and win it) in 2014. We just don't know how he handles football and won't until this season. We cannot definitively say that Darrell Hazell is coaching for his job, but if the 2016 season is another disappointing one Bobinski will be under the microscope early.
As for what Georgia Tech fans thought, here is what their blog From the Rumble Seat said this morning:
After practice on Monday, head coach Paul Johnson expressed his displeasure with the state of the team's facilities, his staff's salaries, and other issues as Georgia Tech aims to keep up its competition in major college football's "arms race" — refuting claims made by Bobinski in his Saturday press conference that there had been no complaints or requests regarding those issues.
That gives me a slight pause, as it sounds a little too much like the old Joe Tiller vs. Morgan Burke feuds. The Big Ten financials do allow for more flexibility there, however, and as I said, Georgia Tech did just win an Orange Bowl two years ago.
Ultimately we want results though. Bobinski needs to do the following to be liked by Purdue fans:
- Improve the sorry state of football, which will overcome pretty much all the financial setbacks caused here at the end by Burke.
- Win some championships, especially since Purdue is still behind the University of Chicago in all-time Big Ten titles.
- Raise the necessary money to improve Ross-Ade and complete the football master plan.
I do agree with him. For the most part, Purdue is in a good place for most of its sports. Other than football, the facilities are in great shape. Basketball is at a very good point, especially if he is a known basketball guy that can improve things even more. Baseball and softball have new coaches and sparking new digs. Diving and golf are national powers.
It comes down to football though. For all the good Burke has done he is reviled because of the football mess we are in. If Bobinski can clean that up and we're in Pasadena within 5-10 years he will establish a lot of good will. We'll see how it goes because all we can do right now is wait. Because Hazell is entering such an important season for him we may not even see results for a year yet. Purdue very well could have a new football coach at this time next year, and it would be one named by Bobinski.
And we have all seen and heard the same song and dance. We have heard all the praises about being self-sustaining and how 15 straight semester with the athletic department having above a 3.0 GPA. those are great accomplishments, but we also want to win. We want Big Ten titles, major bowls, and Final Fours. We have had a taste of it when tiller took us to Pasadena and when the Baby Boilers made it seem like a Final Four was inevitable. That taste made us only want it more as fans, and I have written far too much about the disappointments over time. Ultimately, we want to be Purdue plus winning. We're already ridiculously proud of our school, but we want to shed the stigma of "pulling a Purdue" and being the laughingstock of Big Ten football.
Overall, I get the impression this is a good hire. Purdue needs his fundraising background right now. it has to find a way to improve its football facilities in order to improve the football product on the field and get it back up to revenue generating capacity. It is my hope that he is a progressive AD that tries to run the department like it is 2016 and not 1996 because we're in an arms race whether we want to be or not.
We will hopefully have more tonight, as we're expecting to have an all-AD podcast with a special guest from From the Rumble Seat, so stay tuned.