There’s a lot of cautious optimism surrounding new Vanderbilt athletic director Malcolm Turner. Joe Rexrode thinks that Turner can do great things if he’s given the freedom to operate by Nick Zeppos — a big if. Zeppos explained why he went with a nontraditional AD hire.
I think I agree with a lot of the reasoning here. Vanderbilt doesn’t need a functionary right now; it needs a visionary. If Vanderbilt just needed someone to come in and pay the bills for a few years, keep the coaches happy, and do some minor upkeep on facilities, then hiring someone like Turner would be a needless risk. But Vanderbilt needs a lot more than that from its athletic director in 2019 and the coming years.
The good news is that on one front, Turner probably won’t have any major decisions to make any time soon. Tim Corbin isn’t going anywhere. Bryce Drew at least appears to be on solid ground in his third year; some Vanderbilt fans might be a little antsy, but there’s no reason to think the men’s basketball program will need to make a change any time soon. Derek Mason’s footing seems to be a lot firmer than it did a few months ago, and I wouldn’t expect Turner to need to make a move there soon barring a catastrophic 2019. To varying degrees, the non-revenue sports are all pulling their weight. The lone exception is the women’s basketball team, which went an embarrassing 7-24 last year and doesn’t appear to be much improved this year. But a women’s basketball coaching hire is not going to make or break an athletic director’s career.
On the other front, well, there’s a lot to be done. Turner will have to do something about the football stadium sooner rather than later. I maintain that Vanderbilt Stadium isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, but the fan unrest over that issue is to the point that doing nothing about it, or making some minor fixes, simply isn’t an option at this point. And more or less, the football stadium is a flashpoint for a ton of other areas that have been neglected over the years. Vanderbilt has taken a massive beating over facilities since August, including from some on-air personalities on the ESPN family of networks. It’s embarrassing but by and large it hasn’t been unfair. Oh yeah, and Vanderbilt arguably made things worse for itself last year by considering moving the team off-campus to a new stadium for Nashville’s MLS team.
In short, this is the long-term rebuild of athletic director jobs. We probably won’t have a really good idea of how well Malcolm Turner is doing as AD for a while, because so much has to be done, and it probably won’t happen all at once.
With it being finals week, actual sports news has been slow aside from the AD hire. (Vanderbilt did pick a great time to make the announcement considering that it came during a time when we had little else to talk about.)
Basketball signee Dylan Disu scored 51 points in a high school game, though, and he’s currently averaging 29 points and 13 rebounds a game.
Off the West End
Outside the Lines makes me never want to eat food at a sporting event.
Nick Saban’s Island of Misfit Coaches has a new member.