Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Randomness Begins With Joel Maturi

As his alma mater searches for a new Athletic Director, Joel Maturi is saying all of the right things. Asked by Charley Walters what he would say if the big-wigs at Notre Dame came calling, Maturi responded thusly: 'Thank you, but I love what I'm doing."

Noting the rumors surrounding Maturi, the Minnesota Daily put together a well-done look at Maturi's tenure, beginning with his charge in 2002 to be the first Athletic Director to oversee both the men's and women's departments. Maturi has had some great moments while in his chair and some not so great moments. Here are some highlights.

The Good:

*** Saved men's and women's golf in 2003 thanks to a fundraising effort. Talks of cutting programs has diminished overall, thanks in part to a budget that has remained in the black, if not swimming in cash like, say, Florida.

*** Laid the groundwork for the new football stadium by securing TCF Bank sponsorship and subsequently pushed the stadium package through the state legislature.

*** Hired Tubby Smith

*** Cleaned up the men's basketball program after the Clem Haskins scandal

The Not so Good:

*** Gave Glen Mason a 4-year contract extension in January of 2006. Fired Mason in December of that same year. Mason received a $2.2 million buyout.

*** Was AD when two men's tennis coaches were suspended after committing six NCAA violations. Cheating in tennis?

*** Seemed to have trouble pulling the trigger with Dan Monson. Monson received a $1.1 million buyout in December 2006.

Please feel free to add your own.

My biggest criticism of Maturi probably centers around the handling of the Glen Mason situation. Eleven months after extending his contract, Maturi acted rashly after an embarrassing loss to Texas Tech and fired Mason. Like most of you I rejoiced at the decision, but it was late in coming and it might tell us something about Maturi's decision-making ability.

That said, I hope Maturi lives by his word and tells any potential suitors that he's happy where he is. Maturi deserves loads of credit for bringing an open-air football stadium to the U. He landed Tubby Smith and the men's basketball program is turning around. Maturi hasn't been perfect, but he's done a pretty damn good job.

What do you think?

*** Three members Tubby Smith's incoming class will be at the U for summer school. They are Ralph Sampson III, Colton Iverson and JUCO transfer Devron Bostick. Paul Carter will be finishing up his freshman classes in summer school at his junior college. Devoe Joseph is planning to try out for the Canadian Olympic team. Sounds pretty cool for the kid, right? Tubby's not so sure.

Per Sid Hartman's column, Tubby said: "I looked at that roster, and the people that Canada is inviting, all of them are veteran players," Smith said. "So, he might need to get here. I don't want him to waste his summer if he's not going to be [playing much]."

*** Most of us know that a certain segment of University of Kentucky basketball fans are delusional. When I read the headline of this post from Kentucky Wildcats Blog, I was envisioning a post that would be outlandishly partisan and, of course then, off base. The headline: "U of K Basketball - Is UK Basketball Bigger than the SEC?"

Thankfully the post is coherent and honest about the state of the SEC, noting the recent success at Tennessee and Florida. That success brings in money, which props up programs. If I was asked to answer the rhetorical question, is UK basketball bigger than the SEC, my answer is simple. Not even close.

Florida is the cream of the crop in the SEC. Back-to-back national chippers isn't something that will be easily overcome. The blogger writes this about UK returning to prominence:

U of K basketball is still U of K basketball though. It will just take more time and effort to dominate the SEC like in years past. The name Kentucky on the front of a jersey is still very appealing to many recruits and I’m sure U of K basketball will continue to grow in tradition with many talented players and championships.
I'm not sure the UK brand is as irresistible as some UK loyalists might believe. The UK name is surely appealing, but the days of five to 10 programs across the country dominating are over. The AAU circuit is producing more top-notch talent and the money behind big college programs is propelling many former also-ran programs into prominence. And I'm also not sure Billy Gillispie has the charisma to compete with Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl. Donovan and Pearl each have established their own personal brands. But the perception of Gillispie is that he's a hot-headed jerk. Just my opinion.

*** A name to watch in the 2009 basketball recruiting wars is Milwaukee Bay View point guard Johnnie Lacy. Marquette seems to be the favorite, per this Rivals article, but the Gophers as well as Purdue and Tennessee are in the hunt. Lacy is one of a handful of point guards Tubby Smith is looking at, in an attempt to shore up one of the team's weaknesses. Lacy is a 4-star product. Snatching a recruit from Wisconsin would be fantastic to send a message to Bo Ryan, even though Bo's 2009 scholarships are all used up.

*** Tim Brewster is taking some heat for his comments that last year's one-win football team "very easily could have been a six-, seven-win season, easily." For more on the same subject, check out Sunday Morning Quarterback's take. It's definitely worth a read.

That's all for today. Have a good weekend!


Friend Of Tubby said...

I call BS on the UK link. No UK fan would refer to Kentucky as U of K.

UK ranked in the Top 5 teams from 2003 through 2007 (5 years B4 new UK coach).

UK ranked in the Top 10 teams from 2000 through 2007 (decade of 2K's).

So IF UK doesn't play a prominent role in SEC or nationally the next few (5 to 7) years, that would be All On Gillispie.

PJS said...

I think they'll always play a role in the SEC, I just think they've been surpassed by Florida and Tennessee in the minds of kids.

And I'm pretty sure that blog is real (though I noticed numerous gramattical errors).

lurker said...

You seem pretty happy with Maturi. I think he got lucky landing Tubby Smith and was in the right place at the right team per the stadium. He's shown horrible judgment in his decisions to keep Monson and Mason too long. And we'll see how his Brewster hire pans out.

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