I’m not surprised at all by the change being made. ASU has
grown to be one of the largest public universities in the
country and yet the athletic program has been left behind.
It is going to take a strong leader and visionary to build
it back up and beyond the heights reached in the past. To
me, that’s a daunting yet achievable task and a great
opportunity for success.
In her seven years as the Athletic Director, Love clearly
failed to bring ASU the athletic success it has so
desperately wanted or the funds it so desperately needed.
When your best sports program is arguably the women’s
softball team, you have issues.
What’s that old line about those who make it look easy, do
it best? Well, if you think back to the ASU Football
coaching search, Lisa Love did anything but make it look
easy. In fact, it was excruciating. What’s worse, her
counterpart at UA (an ASU alumnus) pulled off the same
process with aplomb. The compare/contrast was telling and
damning. As we reported via our sources a few months ago,
ASU would have a new AD by the end of the fiscal year.
Turns out, it was sooner than later.
I’m completely surprised at the timing but not at the
decision. I was under the impression that Lisa Love would
work through the rest of the academic year and then she
would “move on” or “retire” under the pretense that it was
her decision publicly. The truth privately being she
understood that she wouldn’t be fired if it went down this
My impression of Lisa Love is that she’s smart and
devoted. I think she is one of the best assistant athletic
directors in the country. Her ability to support and grow
Olympic sports is first-rate. There’s just one thing that
the NCAA will never admit: 98% of America do not care
about Olympic sports. The jump between “assistant”
athletic director and the #1 job is an enormous leap and
she wasn’t able to handle that leap.
She’s an engaging person in a one-on-one setting and I’m
glad I got the chance to get to know her. However, her
passion is very internal. Externally in a group setting,
she doesn’t bring much to an event and is a weak
motivational speaker. When that’s the case, your football
and men’s basketball teams must win. At ASU, that didn’t
When you hire active, engaging, media-savvy people, you
get much more understanding and a longer leash. At ASU,
the three-some of Dennis Erickson, Lisa Love and Herb
Sendek are a nightmare for promotions and marketing.
Those three people only allow you to market winning.
Since they didn’t, two of the three are gone.
As a UA fan, many would think I wanted Lisa Love to stick
around because of her struggles, but that’s not at all the
case. The Pac-12 should want all teams are successful,
and the “rivalry” between ASU and UA would be infinitely
better if both schools’ athletic programs were among the
nation’s best. I want the ‘Cats to be better than the Sun
Devils, but not because the Sun Devils are lousy. This was
absolutely the right move.
Clearly if you’re looking for a surprise, the firing of
Lisa Love hardly qualifies. This move has been a fait
accompli since the June Jones debacle; it was simply a
question of when. Perhaps Dr. Michael Crow will argue that
progress was made in regards to academics and fringe
sports. In the only metrics that matter, football,
football and a smidge of men’s basketball, the tenure of
Love was a colossal failure. Will Steve Patterson be able
to do what she was not? That is impossible to predict at
this point, but safe to say most ASU fans simply don’t
care. The Love era is over and that’s all that matters.