This morning, UNO announced the four finalists for the once-again vacant athletic director position: Trev Alberts, CBS College Sports broadcaster; Mike Marcil, commissioner of the Sunshine State Conference; Bill Danenhauer, Dana College football coach/athletic director; and Nolan Beyer, Millard South High School athletic director.
UNO chancellor told KOZN-1620 AM radio today that there were no internal applicants, and that he hoped to begin the interview process next week, with the goal being to make a hire by the nd of the semester. That means that hockey coach Mike Kemp, a finalist two years ago for this same job, did not apply this time around, nor did football coach Pat Behrns. Whether Kemp and Behrns truly had no interest this time around, or were discouraged from applying isn't known...but it does raise the question about what will happen to Kemp next month, once the next athletic director is hired. We all know the chancellor's ultimatum from last fall, which makes it painful to watch the man who built the program from the ground up wait.
But I've got to admit that this list looks rather weak compared with the list from two years ago, as I see only one candidate with the background you'd expect of the next athletic director. Mike Marcil has been a conference commissioner in the old North Central Conference prior to his stint in Florida. He's a Creighton alum and Omaha native, though he's been out of town for a while.
The next two candidates really make you question just how much interest UNO received in the position. Bill Danenhauer is the head coach and athletic director at Dana College in Blair - in the NAIA. Hmmm. He's a UNO alum, but his claim to fame was as "The Equalizer" and "Evad Sullivan" in pro rasseling in the WCW alongside Hulk Hogan.
Now, a career in pro wrestling shouldn't necessarily eliminate Danenhauer, but it doesn't exactly send the message UNO probably wants to send. Danenhauer is the brother of former UNO athletic director Bob Danenhauer, who many UNO hockey fans point to as the starting point of UNO's problems in recent years. While holding the sins of Bob against brother Bill isn't fair, it doesn't help Bill in his quest either.
I know absolutely nothing about Millard South athletic director Nolan Beyer, so he may be a fine man. But if NAIA isn't enough experience for UNO, I seriously doubt high school counts either.
Then there is the fourth finalist: Trev Alberts. At first glance, his background in television with CNN, ESPN, and CBS College Sports looks out of place against the other candidates. But Trev Alberts brings something else to UNO that no other candidate can: instant name recognition and access to anybody in this area. UNO's last athletic director seemed to disappear shortly after he was hired. Nothing came of plans from the Karnes Commission. Did UNO ever get the jumbotron at Caniglia Field? What about the Chili Greens complex? It seems that UNO simply couldn't get those projects off the ground for whatever reason.
Could Trev Alberts get UNO athletics moving again? We know from his broadcasting career he's not the type to sit around quietly. (He put Bill Callahan on the hot seat in 2007 before anybody else did, for example. When he felt slighted by ESPN, he was the only member of the broadcast team to walk out, getting himself fired.) And it's not like he's a dumb jock; academic all-American and NCAA "Top Six" student athlete in 1994.
Based on my initial glance, I'd have to put Alberts at the top of UNO's list at this time. I found it interesting that both Alberts and Christensen both used the term "friendraising" in their interviews with Kevin Kugler and Mike'l Sever on KOZN radio this afternoon. That's not a coincedence. UNO faces quite a few challenges in the next few years: is the MIAA and division 2 a long-term solution for UNO? What to do with facilities? How do you get UNO hockey to be a national contender. It's going to take a dynamic leader to push UNO forward out of the rut they've found themselves in. I frankly don't think any of those other candidates fit that mode.
Some UNO fans might wonder if Alberts views this job as an internship to eventually replace Tom Osborne. Perhaps. But barring any health problems, I don't see Osborne retiring any time soon.
Alberts as an athletic director probably has the biggest upside of all those candidates. He's also got the biggest downside, since he doesn't have a background in administration. Is this a risk worth taking for UNO? Right now, I'd say it's definitely worth investigating further.