When you come to a fork in the road, “take it”.
That’s what Yogi Berra said back in the day.
Now you hope that San Diego State, at the fork in the road, made the right turn in the decision to hire John David Wicker as Director of Athletics.
This was a critical hire for the athletic program.
College athletics is no longer small potatoes, a mom and pop operation. It is big business, with big budgets, and big time pressure from lots of directions.
Especially so when you are a school in the Group of 5-conferences, living amongst the have-nots, surely not able to compete with the Power 5-conferences, who have everything.
Of course life on the big stage isn’t always rosy, witness as to what happened at Penn State, what happened to the LSU coach, what might be about to happen at North Carolina with its NCAA sanctions coming.
San Diego State has become something special in athletics, thru alot of hard work, blood, sweat, and lots of tears.
It’s programs are successful, from the quality leadership in football, to the accomplishments in basketball, to the raging success in Olympic type sports, even if they are off the radar screen.
The academic attrition crisis is gone, thanks to a joint working relationship across campus. SDSU’s APR ratings are at an all time high.
And the money raised, for the facilities built, is very impressive, especially since the huge alumni base in the city and county, has never really wrapped its arms around these programs on a consistent basis.
They have reached a plateau of respect within the Mountain West Conference, becoming what Boise State has become, or what Brigham Young was back in the old Western Athletic Conference.
But this hire of JD Wicker was so important.
Jim Sterk had done a marvelous job in fund raising and in hirings. There was stability and revenue streams never seen before at SDSU.
Yes there was the untold crisis issues, the lost lawsuit, and ugliness of the Beth Burns case. There was the sadness in the passing of Tony Gwynn, and the dropoff in productivity of the baseball program.
But there are no scandals at SDSU. There are no gun and rape and DUI incidents at SDSU. There’s no academic fraud at SDSU.
Wicker inherits a rock solid program, not one scrambling to stay one step ahead of the NCAA, or one in massive debt, working in crumbling facilities.
But hiring the right AD was a must. Rocky Long has had a great career coaching the football program, but the word retirement has been mentioned around him.
Steve Fisher’s phenominal run is headed to twilight time in basketball.
The loss of Gwynn and his credibility was a blow.
San Diego State needed to make the right choice, because a bad hire could have taken the program off its fast track, and they live on such a fine line on Montezuma Mesa
Wicker learned everything he could from Sterk, first at Washington State, then at SDSU, before he set off to find his own pot-of-gold.
You have to go away before you can come home, so off he went to Georgia Tech and the ACC, only to return some 15-months later when this job, a very good job became open.
Who better to carry this forward than a man who was at the right hand of the man (Sterk), who took the Aztecs to the next level.
There will be challenges in the future, but SDSU is better armed now to face whatever is coming, because the new leadership will carry forward with the experience they gained under the past leadership.
It’s a good time to be an Aztec. JD Wicker has the opportunity to build on everything.
It appears SDSU made the right turn, when they came to the fork in the road.