Big East presidents and athletic directors are charged with a huge challenge today, as they search for a new commissioner.
If I were in charge, these would be my prerequisite qualifications, in no particular order:
Must be a strong leader.
Must have a clear vision for the conference.
Must be dynamic, charming and personable, somebody with excellent skills of persuasion.
Must put football first.
Must have ties to television and marketing.
Must have previous relationships with major college football players.
If it were entirely up to me, I would also look for somebody outside the league office. That is not a slight against associate commissioner Nick Carparelli, who truly seems to get what the Big East needs. I just think the Big East could use a fresh perspective, somebody with no ties to anybody in the league, who can see what the Big East needs objectively and go from there.
Every commissioner the Big East has ever had has had ties to the league. But just look at what Larry Scott has done in his time at the Pac-12, just for an example. Scott and John Marinatto began their jobs on the same day, both in need of making their leagues and their teams household names.
Marinatto was just promoted up after serving alongside Mike Tranghese. Scott came from the women's tennis association, free of any ties to the Pac-12, and has transformed the league, using the business, television and marketing skills that served him well in previous stops. I don't have to spell out how the leagues have diverged since July 1, 2009.
Much in the way athletic directors are now businessmen and not football coaches, commissioners have to be well-versed in negotiating TV and marketing deals while keeping their leagues relevant.
The other aspect, of course, is going to be convincing folks like Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive that the Big East should get the same slice of the BCS revenue pie as the other major conferences. That is not a guarantee once the new BCS cycle begins in 2014, with an expected four-team playoff. You can bet whoever is the new commissioner is going to have to do a lot of cajoling for that to happen.
He is also going to have to make sure he has a unified league moving forward, one that has everybody holding hands together, rather than looking for the next best opportunity. It is an unenviable task, one that is going to require a special skill-set that Marinatto simply didn't possess.
For those interested in how the process is going to work, Cincinnati president Gregory H. Williams is head of the search committee, which will be comprised of league presidents and athletic directors. A search firm will likely be used to help gather a pool of candidates.
Ultimately, the school presidents choose the commissioner. Under league bylaws, only current members have a vote. Temple, which begins play in football in 2012, would have a vote in this case. Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, UCF, Houston, Memphis and Navy will be involved in discussions, but cannot vote. Neither can Pitt, Syracuse or West Virginia, all departing members.