The Sports Business Journal has their nominees for the best in the world of sports out for all of us to view. Plenty of great candidates in a myriad of categories. Where college football is concerned, we can turn our eyes to Athletic Director of the year because, while corporate consulting is quite intriguing stuff, it does not have nearly as much importance for us here at Your Best 11.
Five athletic directors are nominated; four of whom are from BCS conferences. By just earning a nomination, Temple's Bill Bradshaw has earned a minor win. Bradshaw helped get Temple back into the Big East, solidified its future, helped get its football team moving in the right direction and upgraded facilities. Big win for a guy that is not playing with the same budgets or support of some of the other candidates.
The Big Ten has two candidates for the award in Mark Hollis of Michigan State and Dave Brandon from Michigan. Both have really just done quite the job recently. Hollis, pushing through upgrades and helping start the Big Ten hockey league. His ball club played their butt off as well in the major revenue sports. On Michigan's side, Brandon gets a gold star for hiring Brady Hoke and getting the Wolverines into a BCS Bowl.
A list of the best in college sports would not be complete without the SEC, and Arkansas' Jeff Long gets the nod. Hats off to Long because he handled the Bobby Petrino situation masterfully and should be commended for that. In any given year, my money would be on Jeff Long winning the award for the way he's upgraded the program off the field, pulled donations in the face of chaos and his handling of the Petrino-affair ordeal.
But not this year. Baylor's Ian McCaw has to get the hardware when it comes to being the Athletic Director of the Year. The man has done a better job than any of the aforementioned directors, and it really is not even close. Baylor, on the field and the court, was exceptional in 2011-12. Football team finishing in the Top 15 of the nation. Women's basketball team winning a national title. Men's basketball team finishing in the Top 10 and getting to the Elite Eight. That's a lot of success for the folks in Waco.
However, McCaw is not just winning on the playing fields. His greatest success has come through media and fundraising. Baylor grabbed the spotlight, first with its Friday night upset of TCU to start the season and then all year riding the Robert Griffin III wave into the front of college football. RGIII won the Heisman, and his speech was a Baylor University commercial that helped sell Art Briles and McCaw. The televised Baylor Pro Day was another shot for McCaw to show off the Bears' facilities and the program.
Speaking of facilities, Baylor also pushed through a new stadium during this year. A futuristic, waterfront masterpiece of architecture. The new stadium, thanks to Baylor's success under McCaw, is fueled by boatloads of money, and more money and even more money.
As the kids would say, Baylor is so hot right now. It is seeing success in multiple sports. Getting donations pouring in to upgrade its facilities. McCaw's vision for Baylor athletics is paying off; he is a man that works his plan well. Ian McCaw is the backbone to their success, and for that reason, he deserves the Athletic Director of the Year tag, and it really is not even close.