The goal of any athletics director should be to leave his program in better shape than when he arrived.
Scott Barnes did that at Utah State.
News broke today that Barnes is leaving Utah State to take the job at Pitt. But like Urban Meyer turning the Utah football program over to Kyle Whittingham, Barnes is leaving USU on a high note. Just two Saturdays ago, he was on hand for the announcement on the naming rights of the football stadium (Maverik Stadium).
Barnes hired both Gary Andersen and Matt Wells as football coaches, oversaw Stew Morrill’s retirement and hired Tim Duryea as the replacement. It’s uncertain how Duryea will do, but either way, Barnes’ legacy is secure at USU.
The football stadium being upgraded is just one of several key facility additions he initiated at the school. The Estes Center for basketball and volleyball, plus the new weight and conditioning center positions USU nicely among its peers. Barnes also had a hand in USU getting state funds to assist the football program.
USU was lucky to have Barnes as long as it did. Seven years is a considerable period for most A.D.’s, especially at mid-major schools.
An associate A.D. at Washington before coming to USU, Barnes was a big thinker, but not unrealistic. While he probably never envisioned USU in the Pac-12, he had a vision of what it could be – a growing member of a respected conference, the Mountain West.
USU has traditionally been one of the lower-funded schools in Division I football. That’s partly why A.D.’s leave. They like to be where the money is. Now Barnes is at an ACC school.
Considering what he did for USU, though, fans can’t be mad, just thankful.
Barnes has done a lot of the heavy lifting for the new A.D.
Meanwhile, USU’s sports future has rarely, if ever, looked brighter.