[We had a quick emailing about on our super-secret listserv to get some thoughts on the hiring of Ross Bjork, now that we've had 24+ hours to let it sink in. Here's what a few of us had to say. After you read this, feel free to contribute your own personal thoughts if they at all differ from whatever kneejerk reaction you had to offer Tuesday evening.]
Ghost: There are a lot of things to like about this hire, but what sticks out the most to me is his experience as a fundraiser for major athletics departments. According to any and every source if information I've seen on the guy, he was considered quite successful raising money during his roles on the athletics departments at Miami, Missouri, and UCLA. We're smack dab in the middle of a $150M capital campaign to fund an expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and construct a brand new basketball arena, and we're also generally towards the bottom in the SEC in just about every measure of revenue and expenditures, so somebody with years worth of success at athletics fundraising is certainly a welcomed addition to the Ole Miss athletics department.
Juco: The best thing that Bjork brings, in my opinion, is an outside perspective. I don't think it was vital for us to hire a candidate with no ties to Ole Miss, and if we had, that would have been alright. However, it is a welcome sign to the alumni and fans that we will not continue to wallow in mediocrity simply in order to keep things in house. We want to win, and we want to hire the best person to help us do that. It's a welcome change from the past.
Bjork's job, moving forward, is to unite the fanbase. It's a tough job, but I believe that his commitment to fan interaction and doing things right will quickly win over some of our fans. I'm generally excited about the hire and look forward to seeing what he does first.
Sir Francis Drank: Couldn't agree more with either of your opinions. From a fundraising standpoint, he seems like a slam dunk. From a youthful, engagement standpoint he seems like a slam dunk. His main job now is to energize an understandably disappointed fanbase. He's not Archie Manning or Walker Jones (which is a good thing), but he'll need to prove himself to the sweater vest crowd. Also, how he handles the women's basketball opening and the Andy Kennedy questions will be an interesting insight into his management style. If he can come through that well, I think he'll go far in gaining support among the Ole Miss community.
Personally, I'm excited about this hire. Really excited. It's a big move for Ole Miss to hire someone not from Ole Miss, and I think it shows a real desire to be competitive in the SEC and in the nation. I'll be even more excited if he wears a swan to a press conference.
Ivory Tower: He definitely is really well-rounded for his age. I agree with some folks who liken this hire to Greg Byrne.
It will be interesting to see which marketing decision he makes that first enrages some sector of the Ole Miss fan base because that day is coming, my friends. We may all be worshiping at the altar of Ole Miss, but some of us are in wildly different denominations. P.T. Barnum couldn't build a cogent marketing strategy that will convince all of our band of crazies.But, I like having this guy be the boss over all of the young guns who are running our marketing now.
Apparently, he did not leave Miami on the best of terms. He was rumored to have turned a blind eye to some of the shenanigans going on during the Coker era. This stuff may or may not be true. If true, he better work on his sneakiness because this is the SEC, where you damn well better not be expecting to be able to cheat like an amateur. We're cooking up gallons and gallons cheat stew up in here, son!