Rutgers makes B1G gender history with athletic director hire

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Still a little over a year away from officially joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has already plowed some athletic department territory rarely before seen in the history of the conference.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rutgers announced that it has hired Julie Hermann as the university’s new athletic director, ending a search that had stretched nearly six weeks.  Hermann comes to the Scarlet Knights from Louisville, where she served as the Cardinals’ executive senior associate athletic director.  She had been at the U of L for the past 15 years.

Hermann will become the second-ever female athletic director in the Big Ten (Michigan State’s Merrily Dean Baker) when the Scarlet Knights move their athletic programs from the Big East next July.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Julie Hermann to the Rutgers community,” said president Robert L. Barchi. “She is one of the most respected athletics administrators in the country and she was deeply involved in moving Louisville from Conference USA to the Big East and from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her 15 years of leadership experience will be an invaluable asset to the university as we prepare to enter the Big Ten.”

The Hermann hiring culminates a tumultuous few months for the university in general and the athletic department specifically.

In April, popular and highly-successful RU athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned his post thanks in large part to the public backlash over his handling of the Mike Rice situation.  Hermann will now be charged with cleaning up the mess left by her predecessor — and enjoy the fruits of his labor as well.

“Rutgers is poised to soar,” said Hermann. “With a world-class faculty and academic reputation, a strategic location and the power and reach of the Big Ten, the university is positioned to create a best-in-class experience for every student who accepts the challenge to learn and compete at Rutgers.”

Not only will Hermann become the second athletic director of the female persuasion in Big Ten history, she also joins a rather exclusive club at the FBS level.  Of the 124 schools that played FBS football in 2012, just five of them had females in charge of their athletic departments; just two of those female athletic directors — Maryland’s Debbie Yow, Cal’s Sandy Barbour — were from so-called automatic qualifying conferences.

It should also be noted that Georgia State will be transitioning to the FBS level, and their athletic department is headed by Cheryl Levick.

All told, there are 26 female athletic directors at the 300-member-plus Div-I level, including 10 at FCS schools.  Below is a brief look at the five female FBS athletic directors (Texas has separate athletic directors for men’s and women’s sports) and whose company Hermann will join:

Sandy Barbour, Cal
Per her bio on the school’s official website, Cal has claimed 17 team national titles and another 81 individual crowns since Barbour assumed control of the athletic department in 2004.  Two major facility upgrades have taken place on Barbour’s watch: the 142,000-square-foot Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance and a massive renovation of Memorial Stadium.  She also performed a massive renovation on the stadium’s tenant by firing longtime head football coach Jeff Tedford following the 2012 season.

Cary Groth, Nevada
One of the first-ever female athletic directors when hired by her alma mater Northern Illinois in 1994, Groth has been with the Wolf Pack since March of 2004.  Groth’s greatest success at Nevada was the move from the WAC to the Mountain West.  She retired in April of this year after more than 30 years working in collegiate athletics.

Debbie Yow, North Carolina State
One of the most respected athletic directors of any gender by those in athletics, Yow has been at NCSU since 2010 after leaving the same job at Maryland after 16 years.  Yow has served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the national Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, and is a member of the National Football Foundation board of directors.  The most significant move of her three-year tenure was the firing of Tom O’Brien as head football coach and hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois.

Lynn Hickey, UT-San Antonio
Hickey has been at UTSA since 2000, adding three sports program to the athletic department roll during that time.  Her most notable achievement, however, was moving the Roadrunners to the WAC in 2012 and then, with that conference folding football-wise, jumping to Conference USA beginning this season.

Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan
The longest-serving athletic director in the MAC, Beauregard will be entering her 17th year in that post and her 33rd overall at the school.  Facility upgrades have been the hallmark of her long tenure at the university.

Florida’s statement on Jim McElwain’s death-threat claim is interesting, to say the least

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Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something.  Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.

Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season,  Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least.  So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.

The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats.  Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.

OK then.

Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

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Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

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Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.