There are quite a few acceptable candidates to be the next Arizona State athletic director. There is one candidate who is the right choice. Rocky Harris must become the next AD of ASU.
I realize that naming Harris as AD completely loses the press conference. It creates absolutely no buzz. Rocky Harris has no flash to his name or his person. If you want bells and whistles, style over substance and a flash in the pan who will impress people early only to prove later they're in over their head, then Rocky Harris is not the choice for you.
Rocky Harris is my choice because he's the right man at exactly this moment in the development of ASU. Steve Patterson was a "do-er." He ran ASU like a business and caused the necessary shake-ups that were needed. ASU has been put on the right track by Steve Patterson and his right-hand man, Rocky Harris. The "fresh eyes" that are so important to every organization has already scanned ASU and developed the course of action. It is the wrong move to bring in someone else to change the vision.
If ASU President Dr. Michael Crow believes he selected properly in choosing Steve Patterson, he must dig deep into Harris' role. Why did Harris follow Patterson from Houston? They must have had a mutual trust. If Crow believed in the vision of Patterson and Patterson believed in the ability of Harris to execute that vision, there's no reason to bring someone else into the mix.
Harris has been at ASU for less than two years and already been promoted once. His tenure has been long enough to see all of the warts within the athletic department but not long enough to pick up any of the infectious diseases.
If you want an outsider to come in and shake things up, how about Rocky Harris? He's spent years with the big dog on the block working with the NFL so he knows how to handle the pressure of keeping the number one league at number one. Harris worked in Major League Soccer to raise awareness, coverage and ticket sales so he's got the innovation to sell the non-revenue generating sports. He knows what corporate America wants after working for Reliant Energy and connecting that huge company with the NFL.
If you want someone that's local and connected to Arizona State instead of always thinking the grass is greener somewhere else, how about Rocky Harris? He's one of the few that are actually from Phoenix. His father went to ASU. His mother went to ASU. His mother taught at ASU. Rocky Harris has a bachelor's degree from ASU. This is his home town. This is his alma mater. There is an inherent passion behind the words of an AD selling his own school that can't be matched by another choice.
The easiest choices are often made more complicated by the smartest people in the room. I hope the ASU brass doesn't outsmart themselves and make a dumb move. Don't hire someone so other members of academia tell you how great you are. It's rare the safe choice is also the most visionary.
There's a strong concern ASU is standing right in the middle of the forest and won't have the vision to see the trees. If the choice is not Harris, I'll know ASU will be stuck in the forest for a few years.