By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz believes that college football should have a commissioner to oversee the sport, and while I agree with him, I’ll take it a step further.
Barry Alvarez should be appointed as the first commissioner for college football, assuming he would want the position, because he is a gifted and proven leader who gets results, but who also isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say what needs to be said.
Wisconsin fans probably wouldn’t agree with that recommendation because the 73-year old Alvarez is a Badger legend, arguably the greatest head football coach in program history, and also an accomplished athletic director.
So it makes sense that Badger fans wouldn’t want to lose him.
Alvarez’s age might prevent him from pursuing a position of this magnitude. But he is younger than both President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
And if Alvarez were truly interested, this would be the right time to create the position as college football struggles to deal with the Covid-19 global pandemic.
The Big Ten Conference and the Pacific-12 Conference both announced last week that they had cancelled fall football due to safety concerns, while the Big 12, the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference still plan to play this fall.
If college football had a commissioner, and if Barry Alvarez was that commissioner, there almost certainly wouldn’t be as much confusion, dysfunction and dissatisfaction as there is right now.
It’s ridiculous that three Power 5 conferences still plan to play football this fall, while two don’t.
If ever there was a time for leadership, and for the Power 5 conferences to be on the same page, it’s during a global pandemic.
Iowa fans probably wouldn’t mind if Alvarez was named the commissioner of college football because that would take his power and influence away from Wisconsin, where he has ruled for 30 years, often at the expense of the Iowa football team.
And maybe Alvarez could have a clause in his contract that would allow him to coach Wisconsin in a bowl game following a season in which the Badgers underachieved.
That’s meant to be a joke, but the idea of hiring Alvarez as the first commissioner for college football is hardly a joke.
Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy is another intriguing candidate, along with American diplomat and civil servant Condoleezza Rice, who was the first female African-American Secretary of State and the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor.
I know I’m getting way ahead of myself, and reaching for the stars, but you have to think big in this case.
College football, obviously, has a serious problem that has been exposed by the spread of the Coronavirus. There is a lack of leadership despite the presence of the NCAA whose role you now have to wonder about.
The commissioner would work within the confines of the NCAA, but wouldn’t necessarily answer to the NCAA.
Barry Alvarez has thrived in every position he has held, from high school football coach to college assistant coach to college head coach to now a college athletic director.
Hayden Fry hired Alvarez as an assistant coach at Iowa in 1979, and to say that Alvarez seized the opportunity would be an understatement.
Fry had a knack for identifying talented leaders and he was spot-on with Alvarez.
College football should now follow’s Fry’s example by hiring Alvarez to be its first ever commissioner.