Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Colleges

Change is good for USF in AD post

So Doug Woolard is on his way out as athletic director at USF.

Is he leaving on his own or is he being pushed out?

Doesn't really matter. The important part is it was time for him to go and he is going.

Woolard is a heck of a nice guy and did some good things at USF, such as fixing up facilities that needed fixing, most notably the Sun Dome.

But the problem is a school the size of USF should be much further along athletically than it is, especially in the two revenue-generating sports: football and men's basketball. In addition, it's hard to pay for all those costly renovations when there are more seats empty than full at football and basketball games.

Perhaps the thing that really sunk Woolard was USF was left without a good seat during the musical chairs of conference realignment. Maybe the American Athletic Conference is the best USF could do when the Big East was falling apart. But Woolard needed to make more noise about trying get USF into another conference. It's hard to see Louisville land in the ACC, while USF landed in … not the ACC.

Maybe Woolard was doing way more than we knew behind the scenes to get USF a spot in a better conference. His style has always been reserved. He never has been one to seek headlines. But USF boosters might have been a little more content if Woolard had, at least, appeared to be banging the university's drum.

So where does USF go from here? Well, it will certainly look at athletic directors from smaller schools and assistant ADs of bigger schools.

One intriguing name that has come up is Rob Higgins, the executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. This is the man chiefly responsible for landing college football's national championship game for Tampa in 2017, as well as a bunch of other college events such as the women's Final Four and hockey's Frozen Four.

Higgins went to USF and still has close ties to the university. He's well-respected all over Tampa Bay and likely would have no problem stirring up support from the business community. The downside is he has no experience as an athletic director. But he could get an assistant to help with the nuts and bolts of being an AD.

Higgins is an outside-the-box thinker, and that's something USF should at least consider. Outside-the-box is what you need when you've become an irrelevant college program in a professional sports town.

Best read

Add this to your must-read library: Former NBA and University of Kentucky star Derek Anderson has written an extraordinary account of overcoming his troubled childhood to lead a successful and productive life.

Anderson, who is from Louisville, was abandoned by his parents at age 11 and ended up alone in a rundown apartment with no electricity or food. He fathered a child at 14 but worked two jobs to take care of his son, all while earning a 3.7 high school grade point average. His sister was murdered, and he survived a brutal stabbing of his own in a street fight.

He went on to college, won a national title in 1996 and earned a pharmacy degree from Kentucky, all while raising his son. Now, after an 11-year NBA career, Anderson, 39, works with at-risk children.

"It's a character-builder," he said about his difficult upbringing. "It could make you something strong, or it can weaken you and take away from your actual future.

"You have no excuses when you work hard. … Kids make excuses, and I didn't want to do that. I wanted a better life, and I had to work for it. And I did it honestly. I never drank, smoke and never got in trouble, and I did it the right way. I just educated myself. I'm blessed to be here and to be able to tell my story."

The book is called Stamina, and there are plans in the works for a movie based on Anderson's incredible story.

Best read, Part II

Seth Davis, the Sports Illustrated college basketball writer who also appears on CBS, has a new book out about legendary UCLA coach John Wooden (below).

Wooden: A Coach's Life is the first birth-to-death account of Wooden's life and it not only celebrates Wooden's unparalleled coaching career, but it looks at some of the warts, too, including an emotional disconnect with some of his players, his poor treatment of some officials and opposing players, and his look-the-other-way relationship with infamous UCLA booster Sam Gilbert.

Coming in at more than 500 pages, the book tells the complete story of Wooden, both acknowledging that not only is Wooden perhaps, the greatest coach of all time in any sport, but a complicated and imperfect human being.

Best coach

Heading into today's AFC Championship Game, Broncos QB Peyton Manning called Patriots coach Bill Belichick the best coach he has ever faced and added that Belichick will go down as the greatest coach in NFL history. CBS NFL Today analyst Bill Cowher said the same thing during an interview with Belichick last week.

Hard to argue. Belichick has been to five Super Bowls and has won three.

Certainly, arguments can be made for several other coaches. Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls. Bill Walsh won three. Don Shula won more games than any other coach. Then you have coaches such as Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi.

But you know a guy who almost never gets mentioned in this conversation? Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. But Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, none of whom are even close to Hall of Fame material: Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. That has to say something, doesn't it?

Three things that popped into my head

1. I'd feel more comfortable if injured Lightning star Steven Stamkos' return date was simply whenever he was fully healthy as opposed to having a hopeful deadline in order to play in the Olympics.

2. Speaking of the Lightning, isn't it about time we start talking about Ben Bishop as MVP? Not just of the Lightning, but of the entire NHL.

3. Make sure you have your phone with you this weekend. The Cleveland Browns might call about their head coaching job.

tom jones' two cents

     
 
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