Wren Baker Is The New AD

The North Texas BOR approved the hiring of Wren Baker on Friday via a teleconference. His press conference will be sometime next week, probably Monday. As you probably have read already, he was the interim AD at Missouri for a time. Some folks are wondering what it was that made him jump ship from an SEC school to a cash-strapped CUSA one. Well there is a lingering stench about Mizzou that a series of folks are running away from.

Speaking of stink, I wrote this recently:

I saw a rumor that RV once nixed a series with Mizzou at Apogee. I don’t know if that’s true but I believe it could be true. That’s the kind of stink we need to wash out of the program(s).

MGN always gets wind of rumors about Rick Villarreal and his interesting management decisions. As more time has passed since his departure, more of these kinds of rumors have popped up. Enough of them have been passed around that the details do not matter so much as the overall impression: Rick Villarreal was a small time Athletic Director. North Texas is not Big Time — that is a Texas, A&M, OU — but it at least wants to be somewhere in the middle.

What is that, exactly? Well someone that can do the job to the level of UTSA’s Lynn Hickey, Markshal’s Mike Hamrick, Western Kentucky’s Todd Stewart et al.

UTSA has famously hosted Oklahoma State and Arizona in 2013, 2014 respectively, Kansas State and Colorado State in 2015, Arizona State in 2016, get Baylor to come to town in 2018, and Memphis in 2021.

Marshall hosted Virginia Tech in 2011, Purdue in 2015, and will host Louisville in 2016, NC State in 2018, Cincinnati in 2019, and Pitt in 2020.

Western Kentucky played a neutral site game with Kentucky, and hosted Navy in 2011, again played a neutral site game with Kentucky and hosted Navy in 2013, and will host Vandy in 2016.

Building Apogee came with the implicit expectation of better quality opponents coming through. The idea was that Fouts was too old and rickety to host anyone of quality. Five home game schedules were also supposed to be non-existent. They weren’t.

Worst of all, the quality of product in the revenue sports was god-awful. Football had only one winning season between 2005 and 2015. It had twice as many 1-win campaigns.

Since Johnny Jones left for LSU, Tony Benford is 54-73 which is good for .425 win percentage. This is coming off five-straight 20-win season for Johnny Jones. There was a basketball foundation. It was squandered horribly. Picking the wrong coach is not necessarily a knock, but keeping him around is.

Rick Villarreal often placed a large blame on the fans and donors. If they would just support (read: give money) then his job wouldn’t be so difficult. While true, the poor performance from the revenue sports reduced the number of donations and killed attendance.

Wren Baker has a sparkling resumé filled with solid accomplishments everywhere he’s been. He’s hired winning coaches, he’s been part of winning organizations, oh and did I mention he can raise money and hire coaches 1.

At the very least he can reset the department’s relationship with donors and fans. Influential folks talk, and fifteen years of horror stories about RV limit the impact of a yet another fundraising pitch. Questionable hires and losing records limit the enthusiasm of yet another coaching search.

Thus far WB know how to craft a statement, something that couldn’t be said about his predecessor.


  1. Hat tip to Harry for this one.