Look, we've been down this road before.
The last time we went through this, I knew some of what was happening, and even then it was mostly just rumors and random pieces of information, so I didn't really have any idea for sure. The only people that really know are the conference commissioners, the AD's, the university presidents, and their very closest aides. And if those people are good at their jobs, they aren't leaking anything factual just to be nice guys or help a journalist out. If they're chirping, it's trying to protect an angle or steer the conversation in a direction that's helpful to them. The truth is the only people that really know the true machinations, or have something close to an idea of what's really happening, don't really have any reason to tell the talk publicly.
It's also a great time for "false leaks" if you're trying to test the waters on something. You'd like to be in the ACC? Well put it out there that you're being heavily considered for membership! That gives cover to other journalists to ask other AD's and presidents about your school, and you can read the tea leaves to see if you've got a shot. Or if you need to be calling Waco and Ames (or God forbid, Hattiesburg) rekindling old friendships.
Here's the reality: No one single person has a damn clue what's going to happen. Larry Scott might know if it'll eventually be the PAC-12, 14, or 16... but he probably doesn't know if Bernie Machen and Jeremy Foley are going to allow FSU to join the SEC. And he probably doesn't know if FSU is interested in the move anyway (though I think any school that turns down the SEC is insane). And he only has some idea how serious John Marinatto is about holding Syracuse and Pitt hostage for 2.5 seasons. We just need to wait for the dominoes to fall. And nothing we can say or do will effect those first dominos in any way.
So everyone pound some Prozac and let's just wait and see. All the consternation and agonizing and speculation is absolutely worthless unless you really know something. And this conjecture, while fun, is about as valuable as Protect Your Unit. Because that's all you're doing... handicapping and guessing.
More about the role Doug Woolard and Judy Genshaft play at this critical crossroads after the jump.
This is where leadership earns their paycheck, and rest assured Doug Woolard and Judy Genshaft both understand the gravity of the situation. One of my idiot friends said while tailgating on Saturday, "I better not see Doug at the game today, he better be on the phone!" Well guess what, moron? You may not be happy with the direction of our athletic department, but you can damn sure better believe these people understand how important this is, and are doing everything they can to keep USF in a good situation. Let's judge our leadership based on results when this all shakes out, not what YOU think they ought to be doing right now.
There has been nary a peep or a leak out of USF Athletics about any of this. I think that's a sign of professional leadership, and people working hard behind the scenes to make things happen. But I'm guessing they're in a holding pattern just like the rest of us, waiting for the balance of the dominoes from the PAC-12, SEC, and ACC to fall. I'm sure they are constantly talking to people and planning for every contingency, but that can only go so far when you don't know which way the other decisions will break, and everything is in flux.
We have heard plenty of grumblings from USF staffers, coaches, and others close to the program about the direction of the department over the past few years. Quite frankly, some are screeds that would make your head spin. We don't print them because we aren't able to present them in a way that's balanced, and some come from people that would be easily identified to their current or former bosses if we did. Some come from people that clearly have an agenda as well. And since many come from current or former employees that also would like to continue to work in the collegiate athletics industry and not be seen as traitors, we wouldn't ever write anything that would jeopardize their careers.
But even those folks would all agree... on the biggest decisions and moments, Doug Woolard has gotten them right.
Stan Heath, while not successful yet, was as good a hire as he could reasonably make in basketball. Skip Holtz was an absolute home run. Denise Schilte-Brown was also a big win, as were Marci Kornegay and Chris Molloy. There are new baseball, softball, basketball practice, football practice, track, tennis, and golf facilities built under Woolard's leadership. Have we won enough in the past 7 years? The answer is probably not. But when the big decisions that will help shape and define an athletic department for years and decades into the future have been made, he's done an excellent job. You can absolutely question some of the smaller choices, but on the big ones, he has repeatedly come up trumps.
This is far and away the biggest moment of his tenure. Guiding us to a safe landing in an appropriate home will define his leadership more so than any other occasion, even the termination of Jim Leavitt. Doug has shown a propensity to be pretty conservative and play things rather close to the vest previously, so I don't think you'll see anything splashy like a press conference that serves as a de facto campaign speech about why XYZ Conference would look better with the Bulls. That won't sit well with some fans that want us buying billboards in Dallas and Greensboro trumpeting our cause, but I absolutely believe that's not the right approach either. Tell other schools about what you have to offer and what you bring to the table, but bringing public pressure to bear turns off decision makers greatly. And if you're worth it, you should be able to sell yourself based on your record already.
So Bulls fans, sit back, relax, and crack open a beer. Watch some pennant race baseball (maybe Ken should not do this). Enjoy the football games as football games, and not as part of a larger melodrama playing out in collegiate athletics boardrooms across America. Because there's nothing that can be said or done at this point which will make a lick of difference. You'll have plenty of time to judge the effectiveness of your leadership when all is said and done. But until then, In Doug And Judy You Trust.
And if you don't.... well that doesn't matter, now does it?