Power Ranking College Football's Top 25 Athletic Directors
The men on this list are the forces that direct the fortunes of college sports.
But even more than that, they hold in their hands the destiny of our favorite coaches, and by proxy, our favorite programs.
This list ranks the top 25 athletic directors in the country, for their loyalty, their programs' success and good hires.
Some of them even garner credit for choosing to stick with a current head coach.
You may agree or disagree with the order, but in the end, each one of them has made a huge impact on their program, and that impact will be felt for years to come.
25. Terry Don Phillips: Clemson
Phillips made a great hire when he chose Dabo Swinney to take over as head coach of the Tigers.
That belief was borne out last season when Swinney led Clemson to a BCS appearance after winning the ACC title.
Clemson's fiercely loyal fanbase may have had questions about the hire at the time, but after the success Swinney has enjoyed, and the talent still on the team, there are no more questions.
Except maybe "How do you stop West Virginia from scoring?"
24. Rob Mullens: Oregon
Mullens should get credit for working well in tandem with Chip Kelly to thrust Oregon into our national consciousness.
What list of top-five teams over the past three seasons is complete without the Ducks, who have appeared in a BCS game in every one of those seasons.
Mullens may not be on the field making the plays, but he has led the program, and appears to be addressing the substance abuse issues that is plaguing campuses across the nation.
23. Debbie Yow: N.C. State
When Deborah Yow took over as athletic director for N.C. State in 2012, she fired the men's basketball coach, men's soccer coach and men's and women's swimming coach.
She didn't fire football coach Tom O'Brien, and while the Wolfpack have not been world-beaters, this demonstrated a justifiable loyalty to a man who has seen marked improvement in his program over the past two seasons.
The only lady on this list, Yow made a smart move by keeping O'Brien, a move that will pay off in a big way in the very near future for the football program.
22. Eric Hyman: South Carolina
South Carolina football has become relevant.
He began back in 2005, the same year as head coach Steve Spurrier, and has navigated the transition from Lou Holtz to Spurrier with panache.
The Gamecocks have seen their facilities upgraded, and have emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the SEC East in recent season.
Hyman deserves some credit for making the transition appear easy.
21. Dave Hart: Tennessee
He's only been around since last September, but there is no doubt, given his experience, that Hart will lead the Volunteers to big things.
The football program appears to have the talent to make a run this season, Derek Dooley has the coaching chops to be successful, and if Hart exhibits the same level of acumen that he did at Alabama, it won't be long before the Volunteers are back on top.
20. Gene Smith: Ohio State
You may disagree with this assessment, and that's fine.
However, Smith has been pretty successful during his seven years at OSU.
Sure, the whole Pryor/Tressel mess blew up on his watch, but he has thus far navigated the dangerous waters with grace, hired an arguably better coach than he already had, and has the program on the cusp of national relevance once again.
For that, the man deserves some props, whether you like him and/or the Buckeyes, or not.
19. Mike Holder: Oklahoma State
T. Boone Pickens may be the money that moves the Oklahoma State program, but Holder is the man responsible for hiring the football coaches.
The best thing Holder has done is to allow Mike Gundy to stay on, and turn this program into a national powerhouse.
The Cowboys won their first Big 12 title last season, as well as a BCS game, and with Gundy at the helm, it's likely there will be more in the future.
Credit the man that has kept him around.
18. Bill Byrne: Texas A&M
It's simple, really.
Byrne may have retired, but since he was the man at the helm for A&M's move to the SEC, he gets the nod.
That is going to be a tough act to follow.
17. Greg McGarity: Georgia
McGarity makes it very clear that a huge part of his goal as athletic director is to make the gameday experience more amenable for fans.
While this is surely motivated by higher attendance and more money, it's great to hear a high-muckity-muck claim to care about the fans.
McGarity also just finished contract negotiations with head coach Mark Richt, a man that Georgia fans should want to see around for a long time to come.
16. Pat Haden: USC
15. Dave Brandon: Michigan
Brandon has helped begin the long trek back to national prominence for a program that suffered through the dark days of the Rich Rodriguez era.
His hire of Brady Hoke, thus far, has appeared to be pure genius, as the Wolverines won a BCS game last season in their first BCS bowl appearance since 2006.
Brandon also deserves some props for his time as CEO of Domino's Pizza.
14. Mark Hollis: Michigan State
Hollis received props for his prowess with the basketball program, but deserves some love for the football team's success as well.
While we give many of these men credit for the success of their athletes, Hollis deserves credit for addressing academics, as well.
During three of his four years as AD, student-athletes have posted record-high average GPAs.
Sure, the football teams' Big Ten title in 2011 and run to the title game last season have been great, but let's not forget the importance of academics, as well.
13. Jim Weaver: Virginia Tech
The best thing Jim Weaver could have done for the Va. Tech football program was to get out of the way and let Frank Beamer do his thing.
Fortunately for fans and followers of the program, that's exactly what he has done, and for this he deserves a spot on this list.
Beamer's consistency—at least ten wins each of the last eight seasons—is unparallelled, and Weaver's willingness to let Beamer continue to work his magic has been a key to the Hokies' success.
12. Jack Swarbrick: Notre Dame
Swarbrick has been athletic director at Notre Dame since 2008, and is the man responsible for the hiring of Brian Kelly.
For all of Kelly's foibles, he's a great coach, as evidenced by the way he turned around a derelict Cincinnati team before departing for Notre Dame.
Other than a pretty intense last name, Swarbrick is also in a very good bargaining position for his program heading into the apocalypse that is approaching the college football landscape.
For the Kelly hire, he deserves mention here, but where Notre Dame ends up and what part they play in a playoff will determine his legacy.
11. Mal Moore: Alabama
Moore is an extremely well-respected member of the Alabama administration.
Those moves alone represent enough success to earn him a spot on this list.
He came a long way from the kid that played football for the legendary Bear Bryant.
10. Mike Alden: Missouri
Missouri is now a member of the SEC.
Enough said about Alden; that's a big accomplishment.
9. Tom Osborne: Nebraska
Tom Osborne is a legend in Husker Nation.
He led the Huskers to 13 Big 12 titles and three national titles as head coach.
He returned to the program in 2007 to take over as athletic director, and moved his program to the greener pastures of the Big Ten.
Osborne hired current head coach, Bo Pelini, and while the Huskers have a long way to go to get back to the national prominence they enjoyed with him as the head coach, they have started on the way back.
Just another thing that Husker fans have for which to thank Tom Osborne.
8. Oliver Luck: West Virginia
Luck has been associated with West Virginia since his time as a quarterback back from '78-'81.
He's only been at West Virginia for two years, but some major changes have taken place on his watch.
The football team has moved from the Big East, one of the weakest "big" conferences, to the Big 12, arguably one of the top two.
Then there was the Dana Holgorsen hire.
The man deserves some props, especially for his loyalty to the program.
7. Joe Alleva: LSU
Alleva gets credit more for what he doesn't do than for what he has done.
You see, Les Miles has been the head coach at LSU since 2005.
Aleva has only been around since 2008.
The Tigers have now posted double-digit-win seasons each of the past two years.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
6. Joe Castiglione: Oklahoma
The name may sound like it comes straight out of a mob movie, and it's almost appropriate, as Castiglione has run the Oklahoma football program nearly to perfection.
In 2009, Castiglione won an award for Athletic Director of the Year.
He's the guy that hired Bob Stoops, easily one of the best known and most consistent head coaches in today's game.
That's seven conference titles and one national title won under the direction of the man that Castiglione hired.
Pretty good track record.
5. Chris Del Conte: TCU
Maybe he can't keep quiet, but Del Conte deserves some credit for an incredibly successful football program.
He's only been around since 2009, but has seen his football program play in two BCS games, including a Rose Bowl victory.
He also led the charge to raise funds for a much needed renovation to Amon G. Carter Stadium, and has kept head coach Gary Patterson paid and happy.
Give the man some love, already.
4. Barry Alvarez: Wisconsin
Alvarez took over as head coach of the Badgers in 1990, inheriting a program that had won a grand total of seven conference games over the past six seasons.
When he stepped down as head coach, after 16 seasons, the Badgers had three Rose Bowl victories, and were headed in the right direction.
He spent the last three seasons serving as AD and head coach, and now serves solely as the athletic director.
3. DeLoss Dodds: Texas
Really, all that has to be said about Dodds is "Longhorn Network."
However, there is so much more for which to give this man credit.
He has been the AD at Texas since 1981, and the football program has enjoyed tremendous success during that time.
Most recently, in 2011, Dodds received an award for his accomplishments, and he is the man responsible for bringing Mack Brown to Texas.
This accomplishment in and of itself led to the memorable 2006 title game between Texas and USC, and for that—the best game in the history of the sport—we can thank, at least in part, DeLoss Dodds.
2. Jeremy Foley: Florida
Foley is a classic case of starting at the bottom and working hard to achieve what you want.
The man started as an intern in the UF ticket office back in 1976, became athletic director in 1992, and eventually became responsible for the hire of Urban Meyer, who led the Gators to their most recent national titles.
Toss in the fact that he was also at the helm when the Gators won their title back in 1996, and he is clearly one of the top athletic directors in the nation.
1. Chris Hill: Utah
Chris Hill has been, arguably, the most influential administrator in the history of Utah athletics.
He's been the athletic director since 1987, and is responsible for unprecedented growth within the program.
Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham have watched the Utes win two BCS games on his watch as a non-automatic qualifying team.
But his greatest accomplishment was the move the school made to the Pac-12.
The Utes are now a part of the "Big Boy Table" and have a shot at competing for BCS games every season.