Archive for Monday, July 6, 1992


July 6, 1992


It's six days past the beginning of the fiscal year, and, for the most part, all is well in Big Eight Conference athletic departments.

Here's a mid-summer state-of-the-union assessment:


Bob Devaney, now 77, was apparently planning to remain Nebraska's athletic director until someone switched the locks on his office. That won't be necessary. Change has finally come to the NU athletic department. . .or it will when Bill Byrne comes from Oregon and takes over on Jan. 4.

Byrne, as everyone knows, is not Devaney's hand-picked successor, and will soon discover Nebraskans don't take kindly to outsiders who aren't favored by living legends.

Prediction: Despite a turgid beginning, Byrne and Tom Osborne will eventually form a mutual admiration society.


What is Bill McCartney up to these days? Low-profile Bill Marolt is the Buffs' athletic director, but McCartney is obviously the power broker in the Flatirons because he has a lifetime contract and Marolt doesn't.

Marolt is described in the CU media guides as "one of the finest young ADs in the country." He's 48 years old. Let's call him semi-young. Anyway, you have to admire a man who admits he made a mistake, and that's what Marolt did when he fired Tom Miller, one of his hirees, and replaced him with Joe Harrington.

Prediction: The Rockies won't crumble unless McCartney keeps shouting his controversial political views from the mountaintops.


Max Urick has been at Iowa State for 18 years, the last nine as athletic director, and he clearly wants out. Urick has been a finalist for just about every AD opening in America.

Urick, 52, hired football coach Jim Walden, but basketball coach Johnny Orr came under predecessor Lou McCullough. Walden will wear out his welcome if he doesn't start winning, but they love Orr in Ames, win or lose.

Prediction: Neither Walden nor Orr will succeed Urick when he finally escapes because neither wants to leave show business.


Traditionally, OU athletic directors have been puppets of the head football coach. That's not the case with Donnie Duncan. The 51-year-old former Iowa State football coach survived the Barry Switzer debacle and has presided over a sweeping clean-up. Even Billy Tubbs has toned down his act.

Unfortunately, OU football coach Gary Gibbs hasn't lived up to the traditionally stratospheric expectations of the Sooners' faithful and if Gibbs goes down, Duncan will probably go with him.

Prediction: Doing it the right way might mean the highway.


Jim Garner not the movie actor went to Stillwater after nine successful years at Appalachian State. Now, after two years at Okie State, he's reportedly at odds with Chancellor John Campbell.

Garner, 48, did have the good sense to hire Eddie Sutton as basketball coach, but the Cowboys' image has been tarnished by an NCAA probation in football and an NCAA investigation in wrestling. Also, the athletic program is about $2 million in debt.

Prediction: If Garner goes, who could blame him?


Also known as the University of Missouri-Norm Stewart.

Mizzou, often called the sleeping giant because it is the only major university in the Big Eight's most populous state, is actually a dozing dwarf being fed sleeping pills by its men's basketball coach.

With all due respect to Dan Devine, who is essentially powerless with a one-year contract, Missouri desperately needs a chancellor or AD or somebody to march into Columbia with a big stick and a broom.

Prediction: Stewart will reiterate how much he loves the university and everybody will believe him.


At the age of 33, athletic director Milt Richards is the youngest athletic director in the Big Eight by 14 years. He's enthusiastic, he's brash and he didn't fall off the pickle boat.

Richards also figures to age in a hurry if last year's 7-4 football season was a fluke and if Dana Altman isn't the answer in basketball. Then there's that massive $3 million debt inflicted by predecessor Steve Miller.

Prediction: A Garth Brooks concert in Manhattan on Sept. 12 will be the highlight of the K-State football season.

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