Cedric Dempsey, former executive director of the NCAA and Arizona's athletic director from 1982 to 1993, says that the UA's vacant athletic directorship will appeal "to many sitting athletic directors" at BCS-type schools.
But the irony is that the three people who would best occupy Jim Livengood's office aren't likely to be available.
Barring a change of mind, senior associate AD Rocky LaRose will not seek the job. Jim Moore, president and CEO of the UA Foundation, is probably more valuable to the school in that position than to run the athletic department. And the timing is all wrong for TCU athletic director Chris del Conte, whom Livengood hoped would succeed him.
The last thing the politically divided UA athletic family needs now is a Livengood man.
So expect president Robert Shelton to hire an unfamiliar face unless he chooses to pursue the most intriguing name available: ex-UA volleyball player Stephanie Rempe.
Now the senior associate AD at Washington, and previously in the same position at Oklahoma, Rempe is possibly The Rising Star in college athletic administration. Rempe, 39, seems sure to become an AD at a BCS-level school; the question is how soon.
Rempe has great Wildcat pedigree. She played volleyball for Dave Rubio, worked for LaRose, married former UA athletic trainer Greg Remien and is the daughter of ex-UA Traditions Committee stalwart George Rempe.
In 2005, then at Oklahoma, Rempe was considered for the AD job at San Diego State, which went to Conference USA assistant commissioner Jeff Schemmel, who resigned at SDSU last month. The Aztecs paid a search firm $30,000 to identify Schemmel, Rempe and other administrators, including Oregon assistant AD Jim Bartko, who is the Ducks' top connection to Nike's Phil Knight. And the Aztecs hired the wrong person anyway.
To his credit, Shelton says he'll conduct the search himself.
tv deals or no deals
A UA victory over Nebraska might be lucrative in 2010
More than pride and prestige are at stake when Arizona plays Nebraska in Wednesday's Holiday Bowl. Pac-10 teams are scrambling to position themselves for 2010's television slots on ABC, ESPN and Fox Sports Net. A great amount of money is at stake.
Most notably, September nonconference TV games are usually chosen and announced in late May. A victory over Nebraska would practically assure an ABC audience for the Sept. 18 Iowa at Arizona game, possibly in prime time. A victory by an Arizona team coming off a nine-win season, with its offense returning virtually intact, might also persuade ESPN to move the UA-Toledo game on Sept. 4 to a week night. That's why last week's bowl losses by Cal and Oregon State helped Arizona. The Bears and Beavers were almost toxic in losing to Mountain West Conference schools.
The TV competition inside the Pac-10 is fierce. In 2010, Oregon plays at Tennessee, and OSU meets TCU and Boise State. But the UA-Nebraska result could be telling because Sept. 18 is not only the day Arizona plays Iowa, but also the day Washington and Jake Locker meet Nebraska.
Longtime AD improved program in his 16 years
Sixteen years after he arrived at McKale Center, Jim Livengood's public legacy is probably that he balanced the budget. But that's not altogether accurate. Associate AD John Perrin worked the figures. That's his baby. Five years after he retires, Perrin should be a lock for induction into the UA Sports Hall of Fame.
Livengood was outstanding in three areas:
1. He was a builder. The casual fan doesn't notice how the interior of McKale Center changed over 16 years. Those who worked there before 1994 and haven't since returned, wouldn't recognize the place. Virtually every office, work space and meeting room was remodeled. And although he knew (or strongly suspected) he would not be retained, Livengood completed plans for the $82 million North End project at Arizona Stadium, as well as providing a footprint for another $300 million in renovations elsewhere.
2. He gave the place a sense of tradition and heritage that didn't previously exist. Livengood put names on outfield fences, on stadium walls and in the rafters. He created National Championship Drive. He placed mementos of championship teams throughout McKale. It no longer has the feel of a WAC school.
3. His "have a great Wildcat day" approach might have come across as schmaltzy to many, but he connected with student-athletes. He knew most by their first names and would engage them in conversation as he walked through McKale. He gave the athletes a sense of belonging and didn't high-roll them. He made himself available. Not many athletic directors would make that commitment.
Livengood won't go out semiworshipped the way Ced Dempsey did in 1993. But that's OK. Livengood left the place in better shape than he found it.
TEAM OF THE DECADE
'01 UA softball powerhouse towered over all the others
The 2006 Tucson Sidewinders won 99 games and were PCL and Class AAA champions. They were about as good as you can get.
But Tucson's leading team of the decade, in my opinion, was Mike Candrea's 2001 UA softball team. How good: the NCAA champions opened the year 31-0 and closed it on a 26-0 run to finish 65-4. They broke the NCAA record with 126 home runs (26 more than any team previously) and in eight postseason games outscored the opposition 33-14.
They were so good that four Wildcats were first-team All-Americans: pitcher Jennie Finch, third baseman Toni Mascarenas, outfielder Lauren Bauer and DP Leneah Manuma.
That '01 juggernaut also included Tucson's best individual season of the decade. Finch was 32-0 pitching with an 0.54 ERA and also hit 11 home runs, drove in 57 and batted .313 in the middle of the lineup.
Former Rincon golfer wins first tournament as a pro
Rincon/University grad Michael Thompson, runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, won his first pro golf event earlier this month. The two-time Alabama All-American won the NGA Hooters Tour championship in Lake Mary, Fla., shooting 69-66-63 to earn $12,462. In four winter events on that tour, Thompson finished first, seventh, seventh and 18th to pocket $19,437. …Good to see Desert Swarm linebacker and ex-UA assistant coach Charlie Camp climb the coaching ladder again. He left North Dakota State recently to join the staff of ex-UA wide receivers coach Rob Ianello, the new head coach at Akron. … Tucsonan Gil Heredia has joined the Diamondbacks organization as the pitching coach at Rookie League Missoula. The ex-Pima College and Arizona No. 1 starter, who pitched in 267 major-league games, began his coaching career in the Oakland A's farm system last season. … Waived by the Dallas Cowboys last week, former UA kicker Nick Folk is a victim of the NFL's system of no-guarantee contracts. He earned $27,000 per game, or about $400,000 in the regular season. His puzzling loss of form (he was 18 for 28 in field goal attempts this year) came after a dazzling two-season start in which he made 46 of 53 attempts and earned a Pro Bowl berth. It's got to be similar to a golfer losing his putting touch.
Huskies' Gaddy more proof nothing's easy for freshmen
Arizona's would-have-been point guard of the future, Washington freshman Abdul Gaddy, has struggled in his freshman season in Seattle. He has made but 14 field goals all season, is 1 for 12 from three-point distance and went scoreless again last week against Texas A&M. As Sean Miller's young players have shown, unless you're Gilbert Arenas, it's not easy being a freshman. … After calling the controversial finish of the UA-Lipscomb game, Tucson referee Chris Rastatter hustled to Lawrence, Kan., to officiate the Kansas-Cal game 19 hours later. It's a risky business traveling that way in the winter, but the top referees are in demand everywhere. … Ex-UA All-Pac-10 power forward Michael Wright is flourishing in Poland. At Turow Zgorzelec, he leads the EuroLeague power in scoring at 20.8 per game and was the Player of the Week in mid-December. He is shooting .673 afield. … Ivan Radenovic wasn't unemployed long after being released by CSKA Moscow last week. He quickly was signed by a Spanish EuroLeague contender. The ex-UA forward is now on his fifth European team in three years. … CDO and UA product Brian Anderson will be paid $700,000 on a one-year deal by the Kansas City Royals in 2010. Anderson, 27, has a chance to start for the Royals and revive his reputation. His big-league career includes just 799 at-bats, in which he has a .227 batting average. It would be nice to see how he produced with 500 at-bats in a season. … The Under Armour Winter Classic will be held at the Kino Sports Complex this week, a showcase for high school baseball players before scores of major-league scouts. One prospect to watch: Salpointe Catholic junior Joe Serrano, who hit .455 with 20 extra-base hits in his sophomore season for the Lancers.
MY TWO CENTS
BYU has a rare opportunity for a win on a Pac-10 floor
BYU's visit to McKale Center on Monday night puts the Cougars in a position that hasn't been kind to them.
In the last 20 seasons, 1989-90 to present, BYU is 2-14 on the road against Pac-10 teams. Its only victories were against a 15-16 Arizona State team in '89-90 and an 11-17 Wazzu team (in Spokane) in '05-06.
But the 12-1 Cougars catch Arizona in a rare transition period and should be favored. They haven't beaten the Wildcats since the WAC days, 1978 in Provo. Win or lose, it should be a gauge of what Arizona can expect when Washington, Cal and sudden Pac-10 title contender USC arrive at McKale in the new year.
But until I see anything different, I'll take Nic Wise at the buzzer.