Welcome to the busiest sports market in America…
The Fiesta Bowl hasn’t found an Executive Director. Arizona State hasn’t unveiled a public plan for replacing the antiquated(dumpy) 50-year-old basketball facility. The AIA can’t find a suitable/affordable venue for their state football championship games. The ballpark the Diamondbacks are playing in is falling apart. The Sun Devil football program is awaiting the hammer of the NCAA and most assuredly will be looking for a new head football coach and athletic director once the penalties are announced. The Coyotes will play games on a college campus in a tiny arena. The pro soccer team just canned their longtime head coach. The Cardinals will be missing their best WR for the first six weeks of the season. We got lots of stuff(expletive) happening here in our backyard,
I’d suggest that John Junker and Todd Graham could solve a couple of the above issues in relatively short order. I’m not making the case that JJ returns to the Fiesta Bowl or TG be the interim coach to replace Edwards, but both can/should be brought in to help pull the two entities off the floor in respective ways.
Junker is at St. Vincent DePaul doing God’s work. Several longtime yellow jackets have told me they’d like to see Junker back with the Bowl in some capacity. The business is only going to get more complicated with the eventual creation of a college football commissioner and 40-50 schools eligible for a college football playoff. JJ is a visionary. He paid his due. He paid his time. He may have no interest in the Executive Director role, but it’s time to make ask for his expertise. The bowl has gone almost six months without naming a replacement. That should send out more than a few alarm bells.
As for Graham, I saw him last week sitting in the front row of the Pat Tillman school unveiling. TG can fundraise and connect like nobody’s business. A former Arizona State representative once told me that the-then head coach had been to over 120 fundraising events in the calendar year for the makeover of Sun Devil Stadium. My response was, “that’s about 110 more than the head football coach should’ve been out on; he’s here to coach, not the rubber chicken circuit asking for checks”. Yes, I later said and wrote that Graham should be fired as coach of the Sun Devils because it was evident that he wasn’t Ray Anderson’s guy. Can’t have an athletic department where the AD and head football coach are not on the same page(or, in that case, universe) Graham is in Scottsdale these days. He’s on the coaching sidelines after parting ways with Hawaii as their head football coach. I just wonder if a VP of Athletics/Business Development/Fundraiser is in his future. He’d do well in that space. There is still a large part of the Sun Devil fan base who likes Graham and thought he got the shaft by Anderson. I know that Graham working at ASU in any capacity won’t happen as long as Anderson is still the AD, but we shall see what the next three/four months bring.
What I know to be true in sports is programs can turn around in a hurry if the right moves are made. Not that this is breaking news but both the Bowl and Arizona State football are not on stable ground. Today isn’t the time to list names for the next head coach, that will come in due time. Today it’s about looking at who’s available to strengthen brands that need help in certain areas off of the playing field.
Left-lane hammer down…