Nov 25

Conference Commissioners

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Who are these guys? What are their backgrounds? Like presidents of small nations, these men make decisions that influence the direction and well-being of these leagues. Their decisions have lasting impacts on how these conferences are perceived. So in this article, I will look at who the people are that run the major conferences of college football.

So what got me to thinking about this? Two things. First off, my brother showed me a video of ACC Commisioner John Swofford presenting Coach Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers the Atlantic Division Trophy. It was a cool video; a typical celebratory scene with hoopin' and hollarin' and pats on the back and guys hanging out with championship hats and t-shirts on - followed, of course, by a Dabo moment. I thought to myself how cool it would be to be a commish, and to be able to hand those things out as if I were the one that was the creator of all things conference.

Secondly, I started thinking about the guy that sits behind us at Death Valley. This guy doesn't care for John Swofford. And when I say he doesn't care for John Swofford, what I really mean is that I think he would kill him with a knife if he could, and spend his life in prison thinking about how he did the right thing. On nearly every play (seems like), this guy stands up and yells something to the effect of "John Swofford don't want us in Tampa!!" Or "Swofford wants Tampa empty!!" Do your best to put this into the best, er, redneck voice that you can. But despite this guy's annoying battle cry, he does have me thinking: What is it about John Swofford that he hates so much?

So here goes - a quick look at the conference commissioners....

ACC - John Swofford. Age: 61. Education: North Carolina '71, Ohio '73. Swofford became commissioner of the ACC in 1997. He will be known best for his expansion of the ACC into twelve teams from nine teams. Swofford is also the current Coordinator of the controversial BCS. Many in the ACC feel that UNC has had an edge in many aspects of conference sport due to Heel alumni in high places (going back to basketball coaching legend Dean Smith having the officials at his disposal throughout his tenure). While this is surely a non-issue, it is still a topic amongst some fans. During Swofford's first eleven years as Commissioner, ACC teams have won 39 national team titles.

Big East - John Marinatto. Age: 52. Education: Providence College '79. Marinatto began as commissioner on July 1 of 2009. Before that, he was the Ahletic Director at Providence college for fourteen years, and then serevd as Big East Chief Operating Officer for several years. He replaces Mike Tranghese, who retired this spring. He was the unanimous choice of the conference’s chancellors and presidents to folllow Tranghese, who worked for 19 years in that position.

Big Ten - James Delaney. Age 61. Education: North Carolina '70, UNC Law '73. Delaney, like Swofford, attened UNC Chapel Hill. He played for Dean Smith while at UNC, and made the Final Four twice during that time. He became Commissioner of the Big Ten in 1989. His accomplishments inculde implementing college football's first instant replay system, expanding the league to eleven teams (Penn State 1990), and securing a six billion dollar deal with CBS for men's basketball games over the next eleven seasons. Delany opposes the idea of a college football playoff system, arguing that a playoff would diminish the value of regular season games.

Big Twelve - Dan Beebe - Age: 52. Education: Cal Poly-Ponoma '79, Cal Hastings Law '82. Beebe became commissioner of the Big 12 in 2007. Before that, he has been in the league office working with the dollars since 2003. From my research on him, the basis of his tenure has involved making the league much more profitable via a new revenue sharing model (brought the league 130M$ in return last year) and a deal with ESPN which he helped make happen. He is on the NCAA Division-1 Men's Basketball committee.

Mountain West - Craig Thompson. Age: 54. Education: Minnesota '77. Thompson has been the commissioner of the league since its formation in 1999. He is currently on the NCAA Football Board of Directors and a member of the BCS administration. Thompson guided the expansion of the MWC to bring TCU into the league in 2005. Among Thompson's goals now are to get the league into being an automatic qualifier for the BCS.

Pac Ten - Larry Scott. Age: 45. Education: Harvard '86. Scott became commissioner of the Pac Ten on July 1 of 2009. Before becoming commissioner of the league, Scott was the Chairman and CEO of the Woman's Tennis Association. So here is one man who certainly did not come in via the football aspect! He was an All-American tennis player at Harvard.

SEC - Mike Slive. Age: 69. Education: Dartmouth '62, UVA Law '65, Georgetown Law '66. Slive became commissioner of the SEC on July 1, 2002. Slive is a past Coordinator of the BCS. Before becoming SEC commissioner, he was commsisioner of Conference USA. He also practiced law in Chicago for many years, dating back to the 1970's. His contract with the SEC has been extended into the summer of 2012.

WAC - Karl Benson. Age: 56. Education: Boise State '75. Benson was named the commissioner of the WAC on April 20, 1994. He is considered the man who has remade the league. In 1999, eight teams left the WAC. But over the next five years, seven new teams joined. It is tough to put these happenings into a capsule, but the league is what it is today because of Benson.

If any of you readers have any interesting stories to share concerning your conference commissioners, please share here:



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