Congratulations to Mark Coyle, mystery candidate. Yesterday afternoon it became clear from media reports that Minnesota's AD search was nearing it's end. Multiple sources listed Beth Goetz, Phil Esten, and Sean Frazier as potential picks, with Joe C also mentioning that his sources said a "undisclosed" candidate was under consideration as well. Undisclosed candidate indeed!
The super quick reactions seem to be positive:
I don't know Mark Coyle but a person I highly respect and trust who knows him called me just now and raved about him. Calls it a great hire— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) May 11, 2016
Color me surprised, had no idea on Coyle. Very highly thought of by people I trust in college sports. I'm shocked.— Justin Gaard (@jgkfan) May 11, 2016
But who is Mark Coyle? And should be we excited? Syracuse.com did a nice feature when he was hired by Cuse last year that has some interesting nuggets:
1. Oversaw an athletic department reeling from an NCAA investigation
Chancellor Kent Syverud spoke of a desire for the new athletic director to be meticulous in NCAA compliance.
Coyle was hired three months after the NCAA sanctioned Boise State following rules violations in five of its sports, including football. Boise's probation ended in September, and now Coyle is walking into a department that was just placed on five years' probation and will need to provide annual reports to the NCAA on its compliance progress.
Boise kept its nose clean under Coyle, who juiced up compliance funding and hired more staff.
Given all the turmoil Minnesota is facing, this one shouldn't be overlooked. Coyle has experience stepping into a politically charged atmosphere with a lot of scrutiny and he helped lead Boise State through that. That should be make us all feel a little better.
More on Mark Coyle
2. Helped Boise State reach a New Year's Six Bowl
Boise didn't rise to power under Coyle. A solid foundation was already in place including multiple BCS appearances.
But credit must go to Coyle for keeping Boise among the elite of the Group of Five conferences. Despite having little-to-no shot at a chance at a national title under the new College Football Playoff format, Boise earned a spot in a coveted New Year's Six bowl in the first year of the new system — with a new head coach. More on that later.
Coyle was the AD over a big time football program. You may think that sounds weird given that we're talking about Boise State, but it's true. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting BSU is Alabama or anything. But they have a history of success and Coyle came in, made a successful football head coach hire, and kept the success going. The other thing to consider is that BSU is a program that succeeds despite limitations of geography and fundraising. Given that Minnesota could be argued to have the same issues you'd have to be pleased he oversaw a department that succeeded in spite of that. We shouldn't oversell his tenure (after all, Boise State was already successful in football when he arrived) but this is a big plus to me.
3. Served as deputy AD at Kentucky and helped oversee men's basketball
More than ever, an athletic director is judged by his ability to open up revenue streams, and Coyle cut his teeth doing so at Kentucky, where he helped bring in more than $140 million in donations and other funds.
That he later worked closely with John Calipari and the men's basketball program is a bonus given the importance of SU basketball as the athletic department's flagship program.
I absolutely love this. Kentucky runs their basketball program like a machine. Coyle's involvement in the program is no guarantee he'll be able to land a winner should Pitino be fired in the future. But let me ask you this, would you rather the new AD have experience running/interacting with a blue chip basketball program or not? I'm sure some will get all uptight about JOHN CALIPARI CHEATS or some such, but frankly I think that's overblown when you're talking about Coyle's involvement (which is going to be structural, not in the weed recruiting).
I'd urge you to read the whole Syracuse.come article for the other 7 things to know (as I think several are very positive). But for me, the first three are by far the most important and leave me feeling VERY GOOD about this hire.