Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Why I don't hate the reported Blake James hire

Pete Thamel first reported that BC is close to hiring former Miami AD Blake James as our new Athletic Director. While it is always best to wait on official word from BC, Thamel's report means it is a near certainty. Reaction was mixed among BC fans and cause for laughter and pity from Miami fans. Even considering the Miami fans' reaction, I am fine with the hire. Here is why.

Blake checked all of BC's boxes
Football has been king in college sports for decades, but now even at BC, football is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in focus and mindset. BC was always going to hire someone with real football experience. Even if a non-traditional candidate was considered (say Matt Hasselbeck), he/she was going to need some ties to football. This eliminated someone like Ed McLaughin and anyone else who didn't have operational football experience. 

You also knew that after the short tenures of Jarmond and Kraft, BC was going to over-correct and hire someone who was not in position to job hop, had ties to the area and was willing to sign a significant buyout. James had stints at Providence and Maine (New England ties: check), would probably not be in line for another P5 job anytime soon due to Miami baggage (won't job hop: check) and had no problem signing the buyout because he has enough foresight to read the room and the college landscape and knows no one is buying him out at BC. [BTW, how funny/sad is it that BC leaked the Kraft buyout numbers? They are proud that the last two ADs have basically paid for themselves.]

BC wanted a politician with ACC relationships. Lots of things are in play with the ACC from scheduling to how the conference will handle the SEC's breakaway threats and even the ACC's policies on NIL. BC knows that it needs someone who can walk the tight rope and knows all the parties involved well. James does that.  

What Miami fans are saying
Miami fans really dislike James. Their criticism seems to center on two areas (James' hiring decisions) and his personality. From afar, I give James somewhat of a pass on hiring. While not all of his hires panned out, they all made sense to me and were praised at the time. Plus, barring something unexpected, James won't have to make a major BC hire in the next few years.

A bit more concerning is that they shared that James is very political, very sensitive and holds grudges. He sort of sounds like their version of DeFilippo. While not a comparison any BC fan would like to see, I am willing to give James a fresh start and will just be on alert for GDF like behavior. 

What I hope to see
Is James perfect for BC? No. I would have preferred someone with a little more upside and less baggage. However, he seems like he can handle the internal BC politics and the ACC politics. That is critical in this time of transition and uncertainty. If he can raise money, empower the coaches and stay out of their way, this can and should work for the next four or five years.