Gene D could be right man in right place

Officially, his firm, Turnkey Search, has been hired to find a new athletic director at Georgia Tech.

Officially, Gene DeFilippo, a senior executive director at Turnkey in charge of the college search division, will be contact man with Georgia Tech.

Turnkey was the firm that Michigan used to find its athletic director and DeFilippo led that search.

Gene D, who came to Turnkey after a long and mostly successful stint as the athletic director at Boston College, no doubt will come up with a list of qualified names which could range from Oregon State's Todd Stansbury (a Georgia Tech guy) to Arkansas State's Terry Mohajir (rising star). But the name on the top of the list should be Gene DeFilippo.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Here's why.

He has the experience, coming to BC from Villanova, and having stops in the SEC at Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

He has the contacts. No one in college athletics works a room better than Gene D, from coaches to commissioners, to athletic directors, to television executives.

He knows the ACC.

He has experience working at an urban university with high academic standards.

I watched Gene work his magic at BC and before that at Villanova for more than 25 years.

He knows how to play the power game. Take for example what Gene did for the Boston College football team in in 2004. The Eagles had posted a 9-3 record in their final season in the Big 12. They were looking for a bowl slot at a time when not all the bowl slots were pre-designated to conferences.

He had scrambled to find a spot for the Eagles in a bowl game in Texas against Cincinnati. The only problem was that that Boston College President Father William Leahy had an aversion to Cincinnati, using their presence in the Big East as one of the reasons why BC was leaving for the ACC.

And when Gene presented the option to Father Leahy, the question was asked if BC really needed to participate in a bowl game.

Clearly, they did in Gene's mind, so he called ACC Commissioner John Swofford and worked on a deal to put the Eagles in the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. against North Carolina. This was an ACC anchored bowl, so Swofford had a a lot of juice.

The only problem was that the bowl had been filled--although not yet announced. UConn had been slotted in as the Tar Heels opponent.

A couple of calls from Swofford changed that. BC in, UConn was out.

Gene D had worked his magic, just as he had been a part of the movement which had gotten BC into the ACC, a move which was first conceived at an athletic directors meeting in Florida.

Officially, Gene D will say that he likes his new life and life style and he has no interest in returning to the AD wars.

That might be true, but in this instance, he would be doing a disservice to his client. Among the G Tech AD candidate list, Gene D is the best man for the job.

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Here's the latest rumblings about Big 12 expansion.

Within the next three to four weeks, all interested schools should have submitted their video presentation to the Big 12. The Presidents will meet in October with two main items on the agenda. They will vote whether to expand and, if so, by how many schools.

The answers are expected to be Yes and 2.

The schools will then be discussed. Word has it that the process could very well be similar to the way the NCAA selection committee chooses its at large teams. Each school will be discussed and votes will be taken (8 are needed to gain approval). The schools with the most votes will remain in the pool, those with less than a majority will be eliminated.

The process will proceed until two schools receive the necessary 8 votes.

The tricky part, of course, is which schools will emerge. BYU is the most controversial school for a variety of reasons which have been well documented.

Whether BYU is chosen could have a direct impact on the future of the University of Connecticut.

If the Big 12 passes on BYU and choose Houston and Cincinnati, the American Athletic Conference will lose two schools, dropping it to 10 schools.

UConn, faced with a choice of playing in a weakened AAC, is likely to go to the AAC and say we want to join the Big East in all the other sports and be a football only member.

Normally, the AAC response would be, "Thanks, but no thanks.'''

If UConn pulls out of the AAC, the league is down to 9 schools. It needs to have a minimum of 10 schools to conduct a league championship game.

The AAC's choice then becomes to either let UConn stay in football only, or decline the Huskies' proposal.

Here's the problem.

With a weakened AAC, without two of its best schools in Houston and Cincinnati, does the American want to lose UConn in football as well as basketball and replace them with a UMass, Old Dominion or Rice?

It would seem with that scenario, UConn might have an extra chip to play to get what it wants: membership in the Big East in most sports and spot in a football only league, of which the AAC would be the best choice of the available non-power conferences.

All of this depends on BYU.

If BYU is chosen and the AAC only loses one other school, then the conference could simply stay at 11 schools, a move which would preserve a conference championship game.

Watching all of this unfold, is UMass, which is beginning its first season as an independent in football, which UMass concedes is only a short term solution. [/membership]

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