It was a little bit of a surprise for Clemson athletics when Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips announced his retirement this summer and how he will officially be stepping down in June of 2013. Clemson immediately began its search, with whispers of rumored candidates ranging from all corners of the BCS and even to former Clemson players and NFL general managers like Dwight Clark.
On Monday, Clemson ended all rumors by officially naming Dan Radakovich the newest Athletic Director, taking him away from his current AD position at Georgia Tech.
But just who is this Radakovich?
Immediately, Clemson fans will only look to the fact that he hired Paul Johnson, who has not been well liked by Clemson fans—and whose performance is suffering this season. But Radakovich, while he's not necessarily a homerun hire, is more than his hiring of Paul Johnson.
Radakovich is a Serbian American and hails from Monaca, Pennsylvania. He attended the Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 1977-1980, where he played punter and tight end. He earned his master's degree at the University of Miami in business administration. He worked as Athletics Business Manager from 1983-1985 at the University of Miami.
But what exactly does Radakovich bring as an AD?
First, he brings a more competitive mentality towards finance and athletic facilities. At each of his stops, he has played a big part in renovations and plans for athletics. At Long Beach State, where he was Associate AD from 1983-1994, he helped to renovate radio broadcast agreements. In the same position at the University of South Carolina, Radakovich also managed $33 million dollars in facility improvements, one of the most notable being Colonial Center Arena, home to South Carolina basketball as well as other sports.
In addition to that, Radakovich spent time at LSU. As a Senior Associate AD, he developed a ticket donation program and helped manage over $90 million worth of renovations to Tiger Stadium, and he was part of the LSU Tiger's 2003 National Championship during the Nick Saban-era.
He then left three years later for Georgia Tech, a declining program that he picked up with the hire of Paul Johnson. The team won one ACC Championship (later vacated) and was bowl eligible every year up until his departure. He raised ticket sales during this period and oversaw the building of an indoor practice facility for the football team.
Judging by his track record, Radakovich appears to be stronger where Philips was weaker and more conservative: spending and finances. Philips was more on the conservative side when it came to things like fundraising, and Radakovich looks to be the best at upgrading facilitates while also overseeing the rest of the development of the football indoor practice facility. Six athletic programs also made the postseason in all six seasons under his watch.
The biggest red flag for Radakovich were the NCAA violations he received at Georgia Tech, which resulted in the program vacating their ACC Championship victory over the Tigers. The violations involved improper benefits from two football players and failing to report these violations to the NCAA. But the fact that Clemson President Jim Barker seemed to be able to look past this may be a good thing for a rising program.
Radakovich seems to know what it takes to win. Having been with a national championship program environment like LSU and bringing Georgia Tech back up, he seems to have that competitor mentality that Philips perhaps didn't portray in his later years as Clemson AD. And with no immediate hires to make among any of the athletic programs, Radakovich's main focus will be to build upon what Philips left behind.
How good of a hire was Radakovich? Given the reports that Clemson had over 30 candidates, with most from every major BCS conference, the fact that they snagged one from right up the road can say a lot, especially since Radakovich was thought to be a candidate for Texas A&M.
For now, Tiger faithful will have to use the wait-and-see approach and wait for Radakovich's next move.