The Arizona Wildcats have a new director of athletics and he’s already turning heads. As in, “He’s how old?”
Greg Byrne isn’t the youngest A.D. around but he’s close. There was no one younger when he was hired at Mississippi State and he’s only a year older than the current youngest buck.
What’s age got to do with it? Not a whole lot if you can do the job but the Wildcat faithful aren’t used to this kind of inexperience. Ced Dempsey had 15 years under his A.D. belt before taking the Arizona job. Jim Livengood was an athletic director for eight years before coming to Tucson. Forgive us if we’re a little hesitant about Byrne’s 25-month tenure at Mississippi State.
To his credit it was a busy 25 months. In 2008 Byrne hired a new head football coach (Florida’s offensive coordinator) and a new head baseball coach (Kentucky’s SEC-championship-winning head coach). The hope is no major coaching hires will be needed at Arizona for a while but Wildcat fans will want to keep an interested eye on the careers of Byrne’s two guys at MSU.
The other thing that jumps out from his bio (besides the ASU thing) is the jumping. Three years with the Fiesta Bowl. Three years at Oregon. Four years at Oregon State. Three years at Kentucky. Four years at Mississippi State (in two different positions). It’s enough moving to make Dennis Erickson uncomfortable.
(Speaking of Erickson, Byrne was working for the Fiesta Bowl in January of 1994. Maybe that’s why he wants to work here.)
((If you include his undergraduate work Bryne now has direct ties to four Pac-10 schools. Perhaps he’s trying to collect the whole set.))
From his time in Corvallis you can’t help but notice Byrne was directly involved in securing the donation that led to the naming of Reser Stadium. Will there soon be a For Sale sign on Arizona Stadium?
Mr. Byrne has already brought about one change in Tucson. I set up a Twitter account. That’s right, I have now joined 2007. I was fine with all my friends and associates being cooler than me, but I draw the line at being technologically inferior to the athletics director at my alma mater. Are you ready to be amazed? Go here.
By the way, I’m glad Byrne’s official title is plain ol’ “Athletics Director” and not something like “Vice President for Intercollegiate Contests of Physical Exertion.”
In the short term Greg Byrne won’t be judged by wins and losses. He’ll be judged by dollars and cents. How soon can the football stadium expansion begin? Can McKale Center be continually renovated to keep pace nationally? How much money can he raise to keep the coaches that are (hopefully) good enough that the college sports empires will eventually come calling?
It’s enough to make a young guy grow old quick.
There’s no doubt Byrne brings energy and enthusiasm. If he can continue rising to star status we’ll be hanging on his every word.
I mean, his every tweet.