It was assumed to be a one man race for the new Texas AD job, with Oliver Luck in front and random non-starters like Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, and Louisville AD Tom Jurich trailing in the distance. Especially after Steve Patterson, once thought to be a frontrunner for the job, formally turned it down last week. But both parties came back to the table on Sunday and according to one former Texas Regent and another person close to the search committee, Patterson impressed in his second interview and a deal was made at $1.4 million per year, nearly tripling his current salary of $450K.
Either something went sideways with Luck at the last minute, or Steve Patterson simply has a better plan for how to deal with a tricky Mack Brown situation while turning around Texas Football, Inc. Or both. Maybe Luck, who is brutally honest in all his dealings, told UT President Bill Powers things he didn't want to hear?
Indecision certainly isn't one of Patterson's faults, as he re-arranged more than 50 positions within the ASU staff in just since taking over the ASU job in 2012.
At the end of the day, either candidate would have been a huge upgrade from what's currently festering in Bellmont. Since this decision was made with zero input from those currently in charge of the athletic department, one has to assume that Patterson was the more qualified agent of change in the committee's eyes.
Here's the quick bio on Steve Patterson:
- 1976-1984: Patterson attended the University of Texas, graduating with honors earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in 1980. He graduated from UT's Law School in 1984.
- 1989-1993: GM of the Houston Rockets
- 1994-1996: President and GM of Houston Aeros Hockey Team, negotiated naming rights deal for Compaq Center.
- 1997-2003: SVP and Chief Development Officer of Houston Texans new NFL franchise, helped Bob McNair develop Reliant Stadium and land Super Bowl XXVIII.
- 2003-2007: President of the Portland Trailblazers, Rose Garden, and Rose Garden Radio. After taking over as GM, Patterson executed a record six draft day trades to acquire Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge.
- 2007-2010: President of Pro Sports Consulting, a private firm involved in the acquisition and management of sports facilities
- 2010-2012: COO of Sun Devil Athletics and Sun Devil Sports Group, a newly created position designed to land a guy like Steve Patterson until the AD job became available. Involved in hiring of Todd Graham as Sun Devils head coach.
- 2012-current: ASU Athletic Director, responsible for Sun Devil Stadium renovation efforts, creation of the 425-acre sports facilities district to be built adjacent to ASU's campus and negotiations to move ASU baseball's home games to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Check off enough boxes for you? Any big ones missing?
Just because he is not Oliver Luck, who most of us assumed would be the guy, doesn't mean it's a bad hire for reestablishing a brand of Texas football you can be proud of. Personality wise -- don't cringe -- he may remind you a bit of Mack Brown in his ability to own the room. He's a smooth talker. But he can back it up on the back end with a high capacity for organizational efficiency and will quickly trim some much needed fat out of a very bloated Bellmont regime. And whatever gets us to the Pac-12, I'm all in for ...
I talked with Kerry Crowley of SB Nation's Sun Devil blog, House of Sparky, who had nothing but good things to say about Patterson and marveled and what he has been able to pull off in a very short tenure as AD. He brought back old donors and found news ones to help get commitments on a new stadium, which can often take more than 5 years to lay down. Patterson did it in less than two.
If we're looking for drawbacks on this hire, there are a couple, as there would be with any candidate. The last time we played Arizona State was in the Holiday Bowl in 2007 and it was a bloodbath, as Sun Devils were laid out on the stadium floor as the game clock ticked down. You may have noticed a new logo and uniforms since that beatdown. Patterson worked out an image overhaul with Nike in 2011 to change things up. Similar to the edgy uniform changes made at Oregon and Baylor, the switch has been very popular with fans and players, even if the product on the field hasn't quite caught up to the Ducks and Bears. As long as Steve leaves the burnt orange & white alone and we don't dawn moisture-wicking, electrolyte-conducing capes, all is good on the uniform front.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that Patterson hasn't been involved in many coaching hirings and firings as you wold like for someone tasked with replacing Mack Brown, Rick Barnes, and eventually Augie Garrido. Todd Graham, who is not a package deal with Patterson, is a great fit for Arizona State. That doesn't make him a great fit at Texas. He may get a look at the job since Patterson saved ASU at the 11th hour from hiring June Jones in favor of Graham, but you don't hire a Todd Graham when Art Briles is right up the road. One thing he does have is agent contacts from working the pro sports circuit since the 90's, and we know Patterson has ties to Jimmy Sexton and Nick Saban. Does that mean he has the chops to pull off the deal? We'll see.
Keep in mind by most accounts this was an A+ committee that Powers assembled to make the hiring decision and there was zero input from the athletic department. If you trust they did their job, then this will be a very good hire. Then again, if they got sold by a Broadway-level interview like Mack Brown pulled off in 1997 to steal that job away from Gary Barnett, looking for a good reason to switch courses, well ... you have to wonder what scared them away from Oliver Luck at the last minute after he had privately told others he was leaving WVU for Texas. As of last week it was basically a done deal Luck was coming to Texas.
The cornerstone is for the next generation of Texas football is officially in place. Whether it has the ballast to steer this badly listing ship back to smooth waters, it's too early to say. It can turn out to be the Costa Concordia II or one of Larry Ellison's carbon-hulled, five-star recruitabeast fast boats. A lot of that depends on how quietly Mack Brown and Deloss Dodds sail off into the sunset. Part of me can see them sneaking down to the engine room for a nice parting gift to a program that has essentially left them behind. Regardless of how the season plays out, Texas needs to move forward and clean house. Mack is nearing the end of his run and whether he's at the finish line or it's merely in sight is pure visual semantics and LHN-produced mirages. Win the Big 12 if you can and go out on a high note. The PROGRAM still needs a reboot and mackbrowntexasfootball.com needs a new URL.
Let's hope it's TexasLonghornFootball.com this time.
As for the hurried timetable for releasing this news and how it relates to the head coaching search, stay tuned.