3.1: THE CRADLE OF MINORITY ATHLETIC DIRECTORS

Hello and welcome to my ~daily series. I’ve got three things to go over with you today, and one has absolutely nothing to do with MACtion, let alone college sports.

THE CRADLE OF MINORITY ATHLETIC DIRECTORS

With Toledo’s hire of 37-year old Bryan Blair as its new athletic director to replace the outgoing Mike O’Brein, the MAC was the center of attention in a recent column by Matt Fortuna in The Athletic. While the NFL’s being investigated for how it continually fails to hire worthwhile candidates of color, the MAC’s having a moment where it gets to show off how its’ schools have been able get things right on this issue.

“We put together a group of folks — HR people, administrators, faculty, a whole bunch of people to talk about what should we do and what should we focus on,” Steinbrecher said. “We talked about, do we need a Rooney Rule, things like that? And that’s a little complicated in public institutions. And where we decided to focus as a league was in terms of the pipeline.

“What can we do to broaden the pipeline of getting a diverse group of people into this enterprise? And so we did it starting at the student level, whether as an undergrad or a graduate, we have internship programs on our campus, whether it’s in coaching or administration. And then from an administrative point of view, we set up a mentorship program on each campus.”

Blair, who will take over at Toledo on May 1, is the fifth MAC AD to be hired since the start of 2021, and the fourth Black or female AD hired in the conference during that time.

“It sends a strong message,” said Blair, who is now the nation’s youngest FBS AD. “What you notice, and what I hope people say about me, is that we weren’t selected just to check a box. These schools found candidates who were really talented and perfect fits for their jobs and just so happened to be from a diverse category. When student-athletes look at those leaders, they see a piece of themselves, where in some other places in the country, maybe that didn’t happen.

Fellow MAC AD Sean Frazier echoes those sentiments, particularly when it comes to de-stigmatizing the myth that such hires are PR moves. The league’s last three minority hires all moved up in the world to varying degrees: Heather Lyke (Eastern Michigan) went to Pitt, Allen Greene (Buffalo) went to Auburn and Kathy Beauregard recently retired after 42 years at Western Michigan in several capacities.

“We’re not just hiring folks of color or women; we’re hiring the best in class at that level, and they’re producing,” said Frazier, who has been at Northern Illinois since 2013 and operates in just one of a few FBS programs that has a Black AD, head football coach and head men’s basketball coach. “That’s what I think is a little bit alarming, because not only are we doing this at a high level, but we’re getting the results to back it up. Just imagine if others did it.”

Matt Fortuna (The Athletic)

RANDOM MAC PLAYER OF THE DAY: RB JULIAN ROSS (#23, OHIO)

It’s March 1, which means that spring workouts are underway and practices are coming up. While the players are doing that, I’m going back through rosters and seeing who’s still around. Sometimes I read guys that didn’t play from being underdeveloped underclassmen, sometimes I read names where I totally forgot that they were still around. Julian Ross is in the latter.

Ross is entering his sixth year with the Bobcats, and was a team captain in each of the last two seasons. He played in eight games as a true freshman in 2017, then wore a redshirtwith four games played in 2018, started to get more involved again in 2019, but has only appeared in three games over the last two seasons.

Ross’ career stats, via sports-reference.com:

Even though A.J. Ouellette’s graduation could’ve led to more touches from Ross, De’Montre Tuggle transferred in and immediately earned more playing time with his big play ability over Ross. Tuggle split carries with O’Shaan Allison in 2019, then was the overwhelming team rushing leader in 2020 and 2021. With Tuggle gone and Allison still around, maybe Ross could end up being the de facto No. 2 RB out of that position group.

Or maybe the No. 1? Allison’s good and experienced with 1,267 career rush yards — more than twice as many as Ross in his career, and has been trusted with 102 more carries as well. But Allison only averaged 3.6 and 3.9 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons, and hasn’t scored a TD since 2019. Statistically, there’s no plausible reason to believe that Ross, who hasn’t shown me, from over 300 miles away, that he’s physically capable enough to be the RB1 that helps Ohio win its first East divisional crown in the post-Frank Solich era, but it’s March and I’m choosing to be optimistic for the sixth-year senior to be better than he’s ever been before.

ON THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES SEASON 2 FINALE

## SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! ##

## SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! ##

## SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! ##

The Righteous Gemstones wrapped up its second season Sunday night, which means I’ve had enough time to digest a lot of how the best show on TV has performed. Some thoughts on the series:

  • I appreciate that both of the over-arching plots in its first two seasons are season-specific. Without getting too much into the semantics: Scotty was the family’s villain in the first season, and Lyle Lissons (Eric Andre’s character) was the family’s villain in the second. Whatever the over-arching plot of season three will be, it’ll involve new faces with a new heist for, as Junior put it in S2E1, “the same thing everybody else wants: a piece of the fucking pie.”
  • I appreciate the entire reveal of Lyle’s dark side, specifically his hiring of the motorcycle gang. I like that the mystery revealed itself in the final episode, and how his plan ultimately worked against him.
  • Everything about Aunt Tiffany amazes me. I thought she was lying about her being a toilet baby herself, but lo and behold she has one in a porto potty. Then after delivering, she’s on her feet and running with no problem.
  • Judy and BJ have the best lines in the whole show, and their love exchange near the end of the ep might’ve been some of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard on television. Tim Baltz deserves every single Best Supporting Actor award out there for his role in this show.
  • How many more times will we see Macaulay Culkin?
  • Maybe it’s because my understanding of the Bible’s stories is less than zero, but I’m simply not connecting the dots in the Kelvin-Keefe relationship.
  • I’m most surprised that everybody’s been able to call out Amber so simply and bluntly for most of the sesaon. My early theory was that she was the one that hired the motorcycle group and that Harmon was also in the gang (there was a ninja star in BJ’s head; great work by the show’s writers), but that theory went to hell once Gideon rode off to fight them in the streets. I just still can’t believe that Jesse of all people called her out for being a “gold digger person.”
  • Uncle Baby Billy. No notes, I just like saying his name.

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