BS Roundtable: Mike Bobinski is Purdue's New AD

BS Roundtable: Mike Bobinski is Purdue's New AD

Aneesh (@aneeshswamy): Rapid response time!

Mitch Daniels and Michael Berghoff announced this morning that Mike Bobinski, Georgia Tech's current AD, will take over for Morgan Burke as Purdue's AD. He will be, incredibly, Purdue's fourth Athletic Director since 1942 (following Guy Mackey, George King, and Burke).

Before Purdue and GA Tech, he was AD and Associate Vice President for Development (aka fundraising guru) at Xavier, and AD at Akron.

Thoughts on the hire?

zlionsfan (@zlionsfan): Well, he's no Nancy Cross, so that's a good sign. He doesn't have a particularly inspiring background, but then what AD candidate with a solid background would take the Purdue job?

I do like that he has experience at a Power 5 school, and although it pains me to say this, he also seems to have experience managing smaller programs. But there's this:

80th, 72nd, 89th.

Those are the Directors Cup finishes for Georgia Tech under Bobinski. They're ... not impressive. To be fair, it takes time to drag a smaller program upward, and he probably didn't have that time in Atlanta.

I guess he's not a bad choice given who was in charge of the search. As long as Purdue pays for a second-tier athletic program, they'll have to settle for second-tier candidates.

Aneesh: Extend that evaluation window to his 15 years at Xavier, though. You'll find a successful VP of Development, and the AD who built the Cintas Center and hired Thad Matta, Sean Miller, and Chris Mack. Bobinski also hired Josh Pastner for Georgia Tech this summer.

Georgia Tech and Purdue are very similar jobs at the surface...but Purdue is a much bigger school, has a much higher percentage of alumni and donors still in-state (yet untapped, thanks Morgy), and gets that Big Ten money. Though Tech is "Atlanta's school", it's very much stuck with the Northwestern/Chicago problem. Except, you know, without the Big Ten checks.

There's no arguing that Bobinski brings a very experienced hand, with a ton of success in basketball and baseball hires, and is a fundraising.ace. But, as Daniels/Berghoff/Bobinski all acknowledged during this morning's presser, football is priority #1. Bobinski seems to have enough all-around experience to turn Purdue football around, but his lack of football-specific chops could be a source of stress.

But honestly? Outside of the Eric Hyman rumors, I'm not sure Purdue could find a better combination of experience and success. Jim Schaus (Ohio U), Brad Bates (BC/Miami OH), and Patrick Chun (FAU, OSU fundraising) were all rumored, but none of them can hold a candle to Bobinski's resume.

And it's not Michael Berghoff hiring himself. So there's plenty of cause to celebrate.

zlionsfan: Exactly. No one on the search committee took the job, so that was a bonus.

Aneesh: Bobinski was also the head of the men's basketball NCAA Tournament Committee, and is known as a basketball guy. So in that sense it's a weird hire, when Purdue basketball is relatively stable but Purdue football is a dumpster fire.

He's not a "Purdue guy" either (he played baseball at Notre Dame), so for once Purdue hired outside the family.

Boilerdowd (@BoiledSports): "Outside of the Eric Hyman rumors, I'm not sure Purdue could find a better combination of experience and success."

They've got you where they want, Neesh...accept what's given and we'll get good-enough results.

I'm not sure what the results will be good enough to earn, but what it seems they don't care about, is results on the football field...they've done nothing to dispel this feeling. Why have a program?

Michael (@therailroadtie): I'm pleasantly shocked by the direction Purdue went here. I figured it would be someone who already has deep ties to Purdue, or someone who was basically cut from the same cloth at the Burkes and Crosses of the world. Bobinski doesn't fit that mold at all. He has P5 experience, in addition to a nice career path working his way up from Akron to Xavier before landing at Georgia Tech.

It's a little weird that he's leaving Georgia Tech after just being hired in 2013; ADs don't typically move around that much, especially between two programs that are peers in many ways. I'm not sure what I think about that, it just seems noteworthy.

Here's something else I found amusing (not really "amusing", more *eyeroll* amusing). One of my biggest complaints about Burke has been his inability to get the SEZ project rolling. I feel like we've been seeing designs and plans and whatever for such a long time, but nothing of any significance has been done. Well, Bobinski has his own "SEZ project." Here's an excerpt from a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Georgia Tech football:

“If you look at the other schools, we’re probably behind in most every aspect, from facilities to staff to salaries to whatever,” [head football coach Paul Johnson] said.

A locker-room renovation is on the radar for athletic director Mike Bobinski – plans have been drawn up – but the project has not advanced past a planning stage.

“I guess they’re waiting for somebody to fund it,” Johnson said.

Lovely! Read that whole article, it's worth it to get a sense of how he has handled football at Georgia Tech. So if people aren't exactly dancing in the street after this hire, then well, that article provides all of the reasons why.

Boilerdowd: This is awesome- the one thing he's supposed to be really good at, he's not really good it. Yay.

Aneesh: That is absolutely concerning, but it might speak more to GA Tech's situation than Bobinski's handling of football.

GA Tech has virtually no in-state alums, and is roughly half the size of Purdue. On its surface, they're pretty similar (both around 20 varsity sports, STEM schools, etc), but GA Tech's fundraising potential is extremely limited.

Above all else, the lack of fundraising creativity has been my biggest issue with Morgan Burke's tenure as AD. Self-funding an athletic department and building a couple non-revenue fields is great, but Burke's refusal to invest in digital donor/alumni communications has greatly held back his ability to invest in football. Hell, Purdue waited until 2013 to pay its football coach over $1M annually, and needed a Drew Brees intervention to upgrade it's awful practice facility.

If Bobinski's past in Development is any indication of his approach at Purdue, we're in good hands. But if the issues brought up in that GA Tech article were from his inaction...we might be in for another decade's worth of frustrating football.

(I'd bet on the former, though.)

Boilerdowd: The lack of fund-raising creativity is really your biggest concern with the athletic department? Seriously?

I kinda lean toward how the teams are playing, if the fanbase is inspired/excited and buying tickets and the marketing and general public relations are also concerning.

I've never even thought of fund raising...that stuff gets fixed when games of magnitude are won in the major sports.

Aneesh: "General public relations" *is* fundraising, Dowd. Getting the fanbase excited, following up when tickets are bought, creative marketing...all of this falls under the fundraising and development umbrella. Purdue athletics has been consistently behind this curve for the last 25 years, but when Tiller was winning nobody noticed. Issues like this take years to see effects, and the result is Purdue's entire football culture right now.

My biggest takeaway is that GA Tech is in a much worse financial place than Purdue, which is saying a lot. But that might be the reasons for Paul Johnson's complaints, and for Bobinski's move to Purdue.

Michael: I dunno, what's this "past in Development" that you're referring to with Bobinski? There's a fairly significant difference between raising money at an Akron or a Xavier, and raising money at Georgia Tech or Purdue. If you're a part of a smaller, more regional program (like Akron or Xavier) you can do more to be involved in the day-to-day operations of raising money.

When you move up to a bigger program (and one where your alumni base is not regionally-focused), your involvement becomes more strategic. In other words, it's your job as the AD of a P5 program to set the department strategy for development and build a team and a program around you that can execute that strategy. Georgia Tech was an opportunity for him to make that transition, and from at least some accounts, he failed. Now, maybe he learned some valuable lessons that he can apply to Purdue, hopefully.

But read that article, and note the animus that Johnson showed towards Bobinski. And how Bobinski responded by stating that Johnson hadn't made his needs clear. What the hell is that? You're the boss; it's your job to understand the needs of your program and provide them. If I was a Georgia Tech donor, I would be livid at that incompetence.

Purdue has been behind the curve in fund raising, true. And that's because Morgan Burke is a dinosaur who way overstayed his usefulness at Purdue, mostly because his bosses only cared about whether his budget number was red or black. So there's a fairly low bar for success here; if Bobinski can step in and at least acknowledge that the internet is a thing, perhaps even a useful thing, then we're making progress. Really hard to get excited about just that though.

J Money (@BoiledSports): So it sounds like when Purdue needs to find Matt Painter's replacement in 2047, we have the guy to do it.

Best tweet I've seen so far is that Purdue can save money by having Burke leave all his monogrammed stuff around the office so Bob in Bobinski can use it.

zlionsfan: Too late, Berghoff took it all.

Aneesh: I'm just saying that there are much more systematic issues at Georgia Tech that has limited every AD's success since Homer Rice's departure in the mid-90s. Both David Braine and Dan Radakovich, Bobinski's predecessors at GA Tech, left abruptly. To me, that indicates a larger issue plaguing the school itself.

I think Bobinski is a fine hire, particularly for being outside the Purdue family with plenty of past successes at the AD level.

(Also, you have no idea how desperately I want his name to be Bob Bobinski.)

zlionsfan: You could write the same thing about Purdue, except there really hasn't been a point where you could say success wasn't limited.

Michael: I think he deserves a fair shake, and I also think that no matter who was hired, we could find something to bitch about. I'm not particularly excited about hiring Mike Bobinski, but there were far worse directions that they could have went in. I'll give this hire a 'B' and just wait and see what happens.

Boilerdowd: Michael, You're generous with your grades, sir...I guess it's good to be positive about a new hire. I was super-positive about Hazell...then gave Shoop a fair chance. Those have both worked out well for me.

Aneesh, I think your use of the words "fund raising" are super broad; one might even say liberal...but will say at the end of the day, the question is do people want to put their money into Purdue sports. I can tell you only what I'm thinking- that I'm no more likely to spend any money on Purdue based on today's events.

My kids will join the Kids Club because it's a bargain...that's the list. I have no other games that I'm planning on purchasing tickets to.

Aneesh: It's almost like JPC engagement is a key cog of fundraising!

J Money: To the points that have been made (and made well) about it being Purdue and what exactly we were expecting....I think it's fair to reserve judgment and see how he gets out of the gate. If he makes his presence known and/or holds Hazell and others immediately accountable, we'll like him. If he blends into the scenery, it'll be more of the same.

Creative use of money and the generation of more would be terrific. It's a lament we've had for a while, Purdue's unwillingness to spend and only focusing on the bottom line. The question is will he have the autonomy to spend and maybe take some chances?

His short stints give me some hope. If he's awful, maybe he's not around long. If he's great and helps turn around football but then moves on, that's not so bad either.  Either way, change would be afoot.

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