The importance of being ahead of the curve in athletics administration

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The final of FSU's bye-week series.

With the hiring of Stan Wilcox, as Athletic Director, an administrator with connections to Notre Dame, influential people on Tobacco Road, who understands what football means to the bottom line, and more importantly understands how all three in combination with a new media emphasis in modern athletics could potentially relate to Florida State and its future - specifically in positioning FSU in the best light to gain new revenue streams and strengthen its current ones and influence within its conference and to a larger degree the NCAA as it too changes in the near future.

This was a forward thinking hire. Because there is pressure to increase revenue, as its growth isn't outpacing the growth of Florida State's operating costs. Hiring Wilcox is a chess move. It is a pre-emptive attempt to position Florida State, after the latest series of BCS realignment, not just to have a more significant voice at the ACC/ND table; rather to position FSU to have alliances, when everyone is not at the table where the future framework of deals are made. Especially, with the BCS dissolving at the end of this year and the parameters of a playoff influx and conferences around the country figuring out options for media go forward.

Not only is television and media rights pushing conference realignment, shifting the landscape of intercollegiate athletics; take a moment and look at what specifically is happening in the Seminoles' own back yard: For the first time ever, Florida State won't be the biggest football brand associated with the Atlantic Coast Conference. That distinction will reside twenty miles away from Lake Michigan, in South Bend, Indiana where a pseudo-ACC member resides.

Internally there may be two key things to take away with this change. One, this was Barron's guy and will be given his backing in decision-making. And two, Wilcox has a reputation of balancing managing coaches and their interests and those who directly supervise him. Which may reveal just as much about Barron and the relationship with athletic department as it does about Wilcox himself.

Often Athletic Directors are put into three categories of administrators: Resource, Regulatory, or Relationship. Resource-centered focus on accumulating resources for its programs and have power through their ability to acquire and maintain those resources. Regulatory-centered strengths are in the managing of infrastructure and systems and their power is leveraged through consistency. Relationship-centered cultivate tight knit bonds with both those above and below themselves and are able to exert influence through the strengths of those relationships. The absolute best (which are rare) have the ability to manage all three. The very good are strong at two. The average leaders are effective at just one.

His career arc, in addition to some revealing conversations on background with those who have dealt with Wilcox personally, indicate that he definitively positions himself as a "Relationship-centered" type of administrator, a definite one hundred eighty degree change from the previous administration. Expect changes internally post Wilcox's ninety-day assessment of the state of Florida State and the revelation that he will move beyond his incoming reputation.

***

Times are a changing and as they change, and it's clear Florida State must change with them.

Change can be painful. And more often than not, there are stops, starts and growing pains that occur with a process of growth. With all the improvement, all the modernization and all the refocusing on maximizing "The Process," what Florida State has done is somewhat remarkable. Under Fisher's watch, it's been transforming itself the past three years all the while (though less than the Seminole fan base may want), winning at a pretty high rate, a challenge that should not be under appreciated.

As the expression goes, "Adapt or Die" or better yet, to use a frequent Fisherism again: "Change is inevitable, growth is optional." With facilities, new schemes, a telegenic triggerman behind the center and new Athletic Director, the Florida State football program is in the midst of another moment of change. That's an irrevocable fact. It's uncertain whether or not FSU will grow with the shifting sands of college football and stay one of the premier programs and prominent national brands. But uncertainty, along with uneasiness tends to be an occupational hazard of reinvention. Buoyed by three years of quality recruiting classes, a head coach with a conference championship and BCS bowl win on the resume and a coaching staff with veteran experience, Seminole fans can take heart, if execution follows through the potential is there.

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