Friday, March 24, 2006

Orsini: What’s to Like; What’s Not to Like

Without further ado, let's get to the official smu football blog position on Steve Orsini:

What's not so good:
Let’s get the bad out of the way, first. I had my list of two favorites and was going to add a third: Orsini. Orsini, however, probably would not have been first on the list.

Why? I went on a personal crusade against Tulane’s Rick Dickson when I learned he was being considered. The reason I did was that in fifteen years, I didn’t think he had done anything to make the athletic programs he ran better than when he got there. He wasn’t hiring good coaches and he never hired a football coach.

OK. So what does that have to do with Orsini. Orsini has never hired a basketball coach. The one notable coach he did hire, George O’Leary, Orsini has a long relationship with, dating back to when they were both at Georgia Tech. In an ideal world, I want to see that an AD has done an extensive search and considered a number of factors and picked the guy and have that coach be the right guy at the right time. And while O’Leary has certainly been successful, as one UCF fan told me, how many George O’Leary’s does Orsini know?

Second, have you seen UCF’s basketball attendance figures lately? To be fair, UCF plays in a dump.

Third … there isn’t a third. How about, his name isn’t “Chet.” “Chet” is just a cool name.

That’s it?!?!

Yeah. That’s all I got. That is all I can think of to rip the guy. Sorry.

What’s good:

First, he wanted to come to SMU. And UCF wanted him to stay. I can’t say how much that means to me. For years, rumors abound that Copeland came to SMU because he was going to get canned at Virginia. And when you think about it, why would Copeland leave Virginia, a fine school in a good situation and his alma mater, for SMU. Orsini is leaving UCF, a school in a pretty good situation, unquestionably because he wants to.

Second, SMU stepped up to the plate. UCF was actively renegotiating Orsini’s contract. SMU outbid and outworked UCF and that is why Orsini is here.

Third, of my other favorites for this job, making an argument that they have a connection to Dallas or SMU was impossible. Not so with Orsini, who lived in Dallas for eleven years and spent ten years with the Dallas Cowboys. Orsini knows where SMU is in the Dallas community and knows where it can be. During his time in Dallas, he saw SMU at its best and he saw SMU at its worst.

Fourth, no one can argue that Orsini doesn’t know what he is getting into or doesn’t understand SMU’s situation. Orsini comes from within the conference. Orsini comes from the athletic departments of Notre Dame and Navy. He knows about getting kids into school and he knows about SMU.

Fifth, Orsini’s only major hire was a good one. That is a lot better than your only major hire being a bad one.

Sixth, look for quotes by Orsini. I once commented that I wish SMU had an athletic director that spoke like UH’s Dave Maggard. Maggard talks about Houston only in terms that can be described as “onward and upward,” getting UH in the Big XII. Put aside for the moment that Maggard might be crazy. In contrast, with Copeland it seemed like the goal of SMU was to tread water. Orsini, and I hope he doesn’t disappoint me, reminds me of Maggard. When he took the UCF job, he openly talked about the ACC and the SEC and the BCS. Those were his goals for that program. When he talked about building an on campus football stadium at UCF, he was glib, he was straightforward and he was optimistic (btw, that stadium is getting built).

Seventh, Orsini can raise money. The UCF athletic budget is up 70%. He is known as a financial whiz. At UCF, at Navy and Georgia Tech. He raised millions for Ga. Tech to help get Atlanta two Final Fours and he did it ahead of schedule. He was a Wall Street accountant before going into athletics; he will fit in well with the HP-UP crowd in the suites.

Eighth, new construction is a hallmark of Orsini’s time at UCF. New facilities for basketball, football and softball.

Ninth, academics improved under Orsini, which should appease the faculty.

Tenth, SMU had a great pool of candidates and better than anyone on the message boards could have imagined. I think most people were expecting a I-AA athletic director or the senior associate at some BCS school. The fact that SMU got a number of inquiries from ADs of successful programs is reason for optimism.

Eleventh ("this one goes to eleven"), without a doubt, UCF is better at the end of Orsini's tenure than at the beginning on nearly every measurable level.

Twelth, uhhhh…hiring Orsini is like giving the finger to one of our conference-mates, which has its own, unique, intrinsic value. Nevermind the finger, tonight, give them the shocker!

No comments: