Texas A&M was left in the dust when Baton Rouge came calling for athletic director Scott Woodward.
As impressive as Woodward’s three-year run in College Station was, LSU’s day-long public hiring, as far as we know, of Woodward was even more impressive.
Whether Woodward left because of reported feuds with top A&M administrators, the allure of a chance to literally geaux back to his hometown and be atop of athletics at his alma mater or a combination of both, A&M stood little chance of retaining the small-statured, yet powerful man who has made the Aggies once again a national contender in money-making sports.
There was seemingly little to zero fight from A&M to try and keep Woodward, and in just under 24 hours, LSU — the school that notoriously once botched the hiring of Jimbo Fisher — successfully replaced its athletic director with Woodward with about the same amount of ease it took him to reel in Fisher to Aggieland not even 18 months ago.
What’s done is done, but the next couple weeks will be pivotal regarding A&M’s long-term trajectory.
Woodward left the Aggies in excellent shape. Fisher is already thriving in year two as head football coach, and A&M recently hired Buzz Williams to revamp the slowly dying men’s basketball program.
Woodward left his mark, but it’s A&M’s job to make sure what he built isn’t soon imploded.
That’s why A&M’s next athletic director is the school’s most important hire.
Fisher’s X-factor in coming to A&M was Woodward. A fully-guaranteed $75 million contract speaks loud, but relationships matter most. It’s why Fisher teased leaving Florida State to begin with.
A&M would be foolish to not include Fisher in every serious conversation regarding its next AD. Fisher owes the school nothing if he leaves on his own will, so A&M needs to make sure Woodward’s plan with Fisher ultimately comes to fruition, even if Woodward isn’t there to see it.
Many question if Fisher would ever be tempted to leave A&M to reconvene with Woodward at LSU, per se if the Tigers eventually let go of Ed Orgeron. It would take a lot for a man to walk away from the remainder of a guaranteed $75 million contract for a lateral move with a potential pay cut, but maybe it wouldn’t if the people he’s working for aren’t who he wants.
A&M might not be able to cherry pick its next AD, but the open job will come calling to many, especially if Fisher himself approaches someone to be his next boss.
Top A&M administrators and boosters might as well go to Jimbo’s office and ask for his personal shortlist of dream ADs. Then, since the Aggies already threw the kitchen sink to get Fisher here in the first place, they might as well bet the house to get who Fisher wants.
The caveat to this is A&M needs to work as Woodward did — with stealthy confidence.
A&M should feel confident in itself, too. There are endless resources at A&M — money, facilities, location and education. You name it, the Aggies probably have it, or could buy it.
But the bottom line here is this: A&M has one chance to do this right.
If they don’t, the Aggies could let everything Woodward built so meticulously and diligently slip from their hands forever.
Alex Miller is a journalism junior and sports writer for The Battalion.