Now that Shark Week is over, it's time for College Football List Week. Every day this week, Pat Forde will provide a list previewing some element of the 2012 season. Today: Forde's 10 most intriguing people in suits.
1. Mike Slive, SEC commissioner
Ushers in the bigger (we’ll see about better) SEC, with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, swelling membership to 14 schools. He is fresh off a victory this summer in pushing through a postseason playoff to take effect in 2014. And in case anyone has forgotten, Slive’s league has won the last six national championships. It’s good to be the king.
2. Mark Emmert, NCAA president
With the backing of the NCAA presidents’ council, he expanded his powers with an executive beatdown of Penn State last month. With other high-profile cases in the crime-and-punishment pipeline (Oregon and Miami) or in the news (North Carolina), will Emmert intercede again or step back and watch?
3. Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame athletic director
He’s exploring new frontiers, sending his football team to Ireland to open the season against Navy, to Chicago in October to reunite with old rival Miami, and to Norman three weeks later to face Oklahoma. He signed off on tradition-shattering uniforms for the Miami game, complete with a ghastly two-tone helmet. And everyone will be watching for signals about whether Swarbrick is steering Notre Dame to the ACC or Big 12, or nowhere at all.
4. Mike Aresco, Big East Conference commissioner
The newest league boss becomes the latest and last of the power conferences to negotiate a big-money, high-stakes media rights deal. Failure to get a deal done helped cost John Marinatto his job, so the Big East hired Aresco away from CBS to put his media knowledge to work. But some in the industry suggest he’s more of a facilitator than a deal-maker, and may be out of his element in this role.
5. Julie Roe Lach, NCAA director of enforcement
She’s the woman no school wants to hear from. Her department is expected to file a notice of allegations in the Oregon case soon. Enforcement has also been working for a year on the sprawling, multifaceted Miami case, which Yahoo! Sports broke last August. How strong will the cases be against the Ducks and Hurricanes, and what will be the responses from the schools?
[More from Forde: College football's 25 most intriguing players]
6. Jimmy Sexton/Trace Armstrong, Creative Arts Agency
Between them, the agents represent some of the most powerful coaches in the business: Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier and Gene Chizik, just to name the guys with national title rings. They also represent some of the next generation of big names in Mike Gundy, Butch Jones, James Franklin and Will Muschamp. If you think coaches are overpaid, talk to these two – they’re setting the market for salaries.
7. Gary Stevenson, CEO of Pac-12 Enterprises
What is the major new media player for this season? The Pac-12 Network, which Stevenson rapidly took from drawing board to cable packages nationwide. There is a national network and six regional arms, plus a big investment in the online product. What worked very lucratively for the Big Ten may well work for the Pac-12, with others to follow. If it does work, credit Stevenson, commissioner Larry Scott’s first big hire.
8. Lee Fitting, producer of ESPN’s College GameDay
You know Chris Fowler, the best sports studio host of any kind. You know his affable and insightful sidekicks, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard. You know Fowler’s host consigliore, Scott Van Pelt. But Fitting is the sharp mind behind the scenes who makes the best show on television go. And don’t underestimate the influence of “College GameDay” on setting the agenda for what fans (and poll voters) are talking about and paying attention to each week of the season.
9. Dan Parker, president of Parker Executive Search
No matter how it shakes out, Parker figures to have some prominent coaching search-firm candidates in the coming months. Most of the search-firm guys are not worth what they make, but their influence is impossible to ignore. They will be instrumental in the winter fire-and-hire circuit.
10. Jeff Long, Arkansas athletic director
Speaking of … Long found an inspired way to plug the scandal gap created by Bobby Petrino motorcycle accident, hiring John L. Smith in the spring to take charge of a promising season. The question is whether John L. can make enough of that make 10-month contract to warrant a second contract. Odds are long, which means Long could wind up in charge of the No. 1 hire in college football for 2013.
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