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A&M’s Byrne: “The One Thing I Wish We Would’ve Done Is Win More In Football”

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne made his retirement official today at a press conference in College Station.  Calling his 10-year run “an incredible journey,” Byrne said he will take on a the role of special advisor to the A&M president R. Bowen Loftin as of today.

One wonders just how much advice Loftin will actually seek from a man he’s pushing out the door.  As we suggested this morning, Byrne announced that he will indeed retire in full at the end of August, gone by football season as expected.  He will then receive a settlement “equal to the present value of the last year of his contract” which runs through the end of August in 2013.

Associate AD John Thornton will take over as the Aggies’ interim AD until Lofton can land a replacement.  A&M’s president called the divorce amicable, adding: “It’s no secret Bill and I haven’t seen eye-to-eye on various issues.”

The main issue being Texas A&M’s jump from the Big 12 to the SEC.  Byrne said he had no role whatsoever in that decision (or in the hiring of football coach Kevin Sumlin, for that matter).  ”Those are decisions made above my pay grade,” he said.  ”You’re taught to salute and carry on and that’s what we’ll do.”

Loftin said of the SEC decision: “His input was sought.  It was never ignored… The decision was ultimately mine.”

In the end, Byrne oversaw dozens of Big 12 titles and 17 national crowns during his tenure.  None of those came in football, however.  If they had, he might not have been forced into retirement.  ”The one thing I wish we would’ve done is win more in football,” he said.

Aggies everywhere no doubt nodded in agreement.

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Not Everyone On Board With Byrne’s Ouster At A&M

Robert Cessna of The Bryan-College Station Eagle has a message for the people who’ve helped show longtime Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne to the door.  And it’s pretty straight forward:

 

“Those who helped push Bill Byrne into an early retirement better hire a darn good replacement as athletic director or they’ll become part of the problem, not the solution…

A&M is about to embark on the most critical decade in the athletic department’s history as it enters the Southeastern Conference. The opportunities are enormous as A&M has a chance to redefine itself in the country’s best league, but only if Aggies have their house in order.

A&M has spent the last 16 years in the Big 12 trying to keep pace with Texas and Oklahoma, which have two of the most respected ADs in the country in DeLoss Dodds and Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione. Well, the SEC is better from top to bottom, led by Florida’s Jeremy Foley, Alabama’s Mal Moore and LSU’s Joe Alleva, but this is the big leagues of college sports, where ADs hire Steve Spurrier and John Calipari. They’re all great at what they do. Arkansas AD Jeff Long gained a lot of notoriety recently for canning football coach Bobby Petrino over his inappropriate relationship with Jessica Donnell.

(The) SEC’s best ADs shoot from the hip and seldom miss, which pretty much was Byrne’s approach. He had great success in part because he had power and wasn’t afraid to use it.”

 

In nine years at A&M, Byrne oversaw 46 Big 12 championships and 17 national championships.  But it was King Football and his failure to embrace the Aggies’ move to the SEC that did him in.  A&M was just 58-54 on the gridiron during Byrne’s tenure.  In football crazy Texas, that’s not good enough.  Having a chilly relationship with your boss — A&M president R. Bowen Loftin — only made matters worse.

Now the spotlight falls on Loftin to see what kind of big splash hire he can make.  If he makes a good one, Byrne will be forgotten like so many athletic directors across the country before him.  But if Loftin makes a bad hire, Cessna is correct… it will be A&M’s bow-tie wearing prez who starts to feel the heat.

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Byrne Out At Texas A&M

First, yes, the pun in the headline was intended.

Second, yes, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne will be stepping down today at a press conference in College Station.  Yesterday, he gave no details to the press that caught up with him after he met with Aggie coaches, assistants, and other athletic department personnel who’d worked under him.

“I have nothing to say at this time,” he told reporters.  ”I’ll see you guys, tomorrow.  Thanks for coming out.”

It’s been well-documented that Byrne was a pro-Big 12 man.  In addition, one of his underlings was caught posting insulting comments about A&M president R. Bowen Loftin on an Aggie messageboard last year.  This departure has been coming for a while.

Last month, Loftin announced that Byrne would transition into a new role to serve out the remaining year on his contract, but we called phooey on that at the time.  Now, indeed, Byrne is being bought out and he will most likely head quickly for the nearest exit.  An A&M source told MrSEC.com this morning that he would be “shocked” if Byrne’s still around come football season.

The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports on yesterday’s meeting between Byrne and many of his longtime employees:

 

“According to sources inside the meeting, Byrne spoke for a little over a minute, held his emotions in check and was straight and to the point.  Multiple coaches did get emotional during the meeting. Byrne’s son, Greg, was also in attendance.  He is the athletic director at the University of Arizona.  There were no representatives from the president’s office at the meeting.”

 

SEC fans remember Greg Byrne from his successful tenure as Mississippi State’s athletic director.

Today’s presser is scheduled for 1:30pm ET.  The next step — obviously — is for A&M’s president to find the right person to lead Aggie athletics into the Southeastern Conference.  The best bet?  Grabbing an existing SEC athletic director or assistant athletic director who also has some ties back to A&M.  In this case, the Aggies’ new AD will need to know two cultures and it’s best if he only has to learn one… or neither, in the case that Loftin can find someone with both A&M and SEC ties.

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UM’s Boone Talks SEC Expansion, A&M

Texas A&M and the SEC continue to dance closer and closer to one another… without actually touching.  Sort of like Baptists.

A&M athletic director Bill Byrne blogged yesterday and listed the “Bigger Ten,” the Pac-12 and the SEC as possible landing spots for the Aggies.  Today, Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone shared a couple of quick notes on SEC expansion and A&M… without ever really connecting the two:


“The SEC has to be very mindful of any institution that would seek to come in.  A lot of it has to do with location.  So much of it has to do with culture.  Texas A&M has a rich culture and history, not just with its agriculture and military but also in athletics and academics.”


Am I the only who wishes A&M and the SEC could just work this out, make an announcement, and let the rest of us focus on football?

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