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Top Athletic Director Candidates

Two days after Sheahon Zenger was released, the dust begins to swirl in the rumor mill.

NCAA Basketball: Toledo at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, I brought you an article with admittedly random names thrown out there. Meanwhile, Matt Tait breaks down some cadidates with local ties, saying that most of these probably aren't realistic candidates but that people have been asking him about them (further reinforcing my belief that the average KU fan has no idea what's best for the university). Greg Gurley, really? Ugh. Hard pass. I for one don’t care if the new AD has Kansas or even Big 12 ties; I just want them to change the culture in the Kansas athletic department, get the football program headed in the right direction, and generally be good at their job.

Anyway, as the rumor mill has begun to pick up steam, I’ve come up with a wish list of top candidates, both rumored and that I made up myself. It should be noted that when I say “rumor mill,” what I really mean is, “the only two tweets I saw from someone who probably knows more than me.” With that said, let’s dig right in.

For this list, I’ve put these candidates in the order of desirability, starting at the bottom of the list and working to the top.

The Rumor Mill

Jeff Long, Unemployed

Long has been rumored by several folks on the Twitters now, so he’s worth putting on this list. Long’s most recent stint was at Arkansas, where he was the AD from 2008-2017. He was relieved of his duties after losing support of fans, alumni, and key supporters (i.e., donors) after hiring Bret Bielema, who went just 29-32 in five seasons.

(Oh, to win 29 games in five years. How horrible that must have been for them! I digress.)

Anyway, Long had to handle the Petrino situation while at Arkansas, was rumored to be a candidate for AD openings at Texas and Stanford, hired Mike Anderson away from Missouri, and led a $160M renovation of Razorback Stadium. A quarterback in his college days, Long has also previously worked in the athletic departments of Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma, and Pitt.

Kenny Mossman, Senior Associate AD, Oklahoma

Mossman was mentioned in the same Tweet as Long by Bretty McMurphy, and Gene Wojciechowski seems to be a fan as well. Mossman did his undergrad work at tiny Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, while playing basketball, before completing his graduate degree at K-State. He currently has “sport oversight” of football and softball at OU, both of which are top programs in their respective sports.

Sean Frazier, Northern Illinois AD

Frazier has been the AD at NIU since 2013. He has 25 years of experience as an athletic director at the university level, in Division 1, II, and III levels. Prior to his current stint at NIU, he worked at Wisconsin as the Deputy AD, where he was the administrator in charge of football, men’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey. While at Wisconsin, Frazier led an $86M pledge drive for a student-athlete performance center, among other efforts. Frazier originally went to Alabama on a football scholarship.

The Top 4

Three of these four are from my first article on potential replacements, and those are mostly just cut and paste with a little added commentary. Remember, these are my rankings and my rankings only.

Joe Parker, Colorado State AD

Parker is still an intriguing option, and the more I hear about him, the more I like him.

He has been at CSU since 2015. Prior to that he was the Senior Associate AD at Texas Tech, and held that same position at Michigan, Oklahoma, Washington State, and Texas. In case you were unaware, CSU recently opened a brand-new football stadium. He also oversaw the $226M renovation of Michigan Stadium 10 years ago. A fun note, CSU’s women’s volleyball and women’s basketball teams both went undefeated in conference play last year.

While I do like this idea, Parker should be called only after the next three decline the position.

Russ Bjork, Ole Miss AD

Born and raised in Dodge City, KS, Bjork has led the Ole Miss athletic department since 2012. He played football at Emporia State and completed his graduate work at Western Illinois. While at Ole Miss, Bjork has opened a $94.5M basketball arena and raised $65M in updates for the football stadium. Prior to Ole Miss, Bjork worked in the athletic departments of Western Kentucky, UCLA, Miami, and Missouri.

Like a couple of the names we looked at earlier this week, Bjork is already the AD at a Power 5 school, and may not be interested in a “lateral” move. However, KU does seem to have the homefield advantage here - if Bjork is interested in moving back to the state, this would be a great opportunity for him to do so.

Terry Mohajir, Arkansas State AD

Still my second favorite candidate, Mohajir has Kansas ties, as he was an assistant coach under Glen Mason from 1993-1996. He has been the AD at Arkansas State since 2012. In that time, ASU has tripled its athletics budget while breaking school fundraising records. He raised $26M for renovations to the press box at the football stadium at ASU, and is currently working on a second $26M project for another part of the stadium. He also hired football coaches Blake Anderson and Bryan Harsin. Prior to ASU, Mohajir was at Florida Atlantic as their Senior Associate AD from 2004-11.

I like Mohajir’s football hires at ASU, and the fact that he’s been a football coach and coached at KU under Mason gives him the local ties that KU fans seem to like - but again, I’m not too terribly concerned about local ties. Mohajir seems to be the one name that pops up on everyone’s list, and in my estimation, is probably the odds on favorite if there were betting odds.

Danny White, Central Florida AD

By far my favorite candidate at this point, White has been the AD at UCF since 2015. Prior to that, he was the AD at Buffalo from 2012-15, and the Senior Associate AD at Ole Miss from 2009-12. Obviously we know about the turnaround of the UCF football program over the past couple of years, but he also orchestrated similar turnarounds with impressive coaching hires for UCF’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the baseball team.

White is one of the youngest and hottest names out there. It’s possible he could be looking for a big time football university gig, but even if he uses Kansas as a stepping stone to that end, surely he would leave the KU football program in better shape than it is now. I have yet to see any “experts” link White to the KU AD search, but if you’re on that committee, you have to make the call and make him say no.