Wed Apr 28 07:56am EDT
We don't know much about Washington president Mark Emmert, the "surprise choice" Tuesday to replace the late Myles Brand as NCAA president, and he doesn't seem to have a really firm vision for his tenure, either: At his introduction, he told reporters he has no "revolutionary" reforms to push, and considered his agenda "an evolution" from the academic reforms – most notably the Academic Progress Rate – initiated by Brand, who was also a former college president and regarded as something of an academic crusader in the role. The fact that the NCAA went back to the ranks of academia (Emmert was president at LSU and chancellor at Connecticut before taking over at Washington in 2004) suggests this is the path it wants to follow.
Emmert was a wanted man at U-Dub, reportedly courted at various points by Wisconsin, North Carolina and the California system and turning down an offer from Vanderbilt that would have made him one of the highest-paid college administrators in the country. He hired Nick Saban at LSU and frequently attended Tiger practices; he also hired Tyrone Willingham at Washington. And he apparently sees a tournament coming down the pike, telling the Seattle Times in 2008, "I happen to be one that thinks it's inevitable we'll have a playoff." That puts him squarely in line with this blog.
That doesn't mean he's going to throw whatever weight the NCAA has (which isn't much, in this case) behind a bracket, saying straightaway Tuesday that, while he may "join in those conversations," a playoff remains the provenance of his old pals, the university presidents: "I do not expect the NCAA to lead in that charge." Same as it ever was.
The first item on Emmert's plate: Overseeing the final stages of the four-year investigation into USC over the Reggie Bush scandal and administering discipline, and/or explaining to an outraged public why the discipline doesn't meet the nuclear levels it had imagined. Welcome aboard, man.