White Will Aim High (Jeffrey Wood Commentary)

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One thing was loud and clear at Frank Broyles’ Feb. 17 retirement announcement. Chancellor John White is now in charge.
Technically, White has been the boss since arriving at the University of Arkansas 10 years ago. But few would ever believe anyone but Broyles, the legendary athletic director, was calling the shots on Razorback Road. True, when Broyles transitions into a university-wide fundraising role on Dec. 31, he will still be a big man on campus.
But the future of the athletic program is now in the Chancellor’s hands – on paper and in reality. White marked his territory in a post-announcement interview when he affirmed that although he was the only person who could have fired Frank, he wouldn’t have done it. And now only White knows where his sights are set for the future.
To make a serious guess Hog fans must retrain their brains to think like the Chancellor, not Coach Broyles. A good way to start, (and to suddenly feel unaccomplished), is to review the Chancellor’s own bio online at chancellor.uark.edu/85.htm.
Think of it this way: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates built a world beater by surrounding himself with all-world programmers and leaders.
White’s track record on campus has been to do the same. Deans Dan Worrell (Walton College) and Ashok Saxena (Engineering College) are examples of heavyweight White hires. The department heads in engineering alone are the academic equivalent of basketball’s 1992 Olympic Dream Team.
No slight to those already speculated as candidates, but White is not afraid to look past sentimental loyalties and swing for the fence. White is looking for someone who can hire and fire coaches, raise money and build things.
Someone between 45 and 55 years old, who’s had a head A.D. gig and preferably in more than one conference would be ideal.
So let’s eliminate the following:
Ken Hatfield, Harold Horton and Bill Gray are great guys, but will not get the nod.
Terry Don Philips is perfectly qualified, but is honestly happy at Clemson.
Houston Nutt had better worry about keeping his current gig.
Bill Montgomery is the favorite of the Little Rock social set, but he’s out because he and Chuck Dicus are joined at the hip. (Would their Hollywood couple name be Chuckgomery?) Dicus is not well liked by a number of Top 50 All-time program contributors.
Joe Kline is too truthful to be an A.D. (politician). He would unite the fan base though.
Derrick Gragg, another extremely likeable guy, may wind up with some blame for the UA track program’s NCAA fuss.
Kevin Scanlon and Scott Bull swing big sticks in the business world and would have little motivation to take a position that’s basically a public piñata.
The best bet is still on a yet-unknown candidate whose stock rises during interviews. The trick will be whether the Hog Nation demands a UA connection. It shouldn’t matter, but if it does, here’s a better idea of who might turn White’s head.
Joe Castiglione, the A.D. at Oklahoma. He’s a big fan of Arkansas and while serving as Mizzou’s A.D., he was mentored by Broyles and former UA Chancellor Dan Ferritor. His bio at soonersports.com includes credit for a $125 million athletic fundraising campaign. Why leave OU? Because the Southeastern Conference is Big Boy School.
Dan Radakovich, the A.D. at Georgia Tech. He has the right pedigree. LSU wants him, too, but the UA has the recruiting advantage as a “one-real-program” state. Besides serving at GTU (Broyles’ alma mater, White’s employer of 22 years), his associate tenures at SEC brethren South Carolina and LSU were strong (ramblinwreck.cstv.com).
David C. Boles, an associate A.D. at Mississippi State with a Ph.D. in education. The MSU Web site doesn’t contain administrative bios, but his is a novella of credentials and awards. A charismatic guy, Boles has longtime friends on “The Hill” and his honors include the 1996 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s “Contribution to Amateur Football” award.
Keli McGregor, president of the Colorado Rockies. His is the only name already mentioned publicly that would really make the short list. But it seems silly to think the former UA insider would leave a Major League Baseball gig in his home state. The club’s ownership change might be the tipping point.