Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Army's athletic director waits for his big breakthrough

The job of an athletic director is about a lot more than hiring coaches or tending to the big-ticket programs under one's care. Moreover, it goes without saying that many athletic director positions are wildly different in terms of the challenges involved. Other jobs with less obvious differences carry some subtle regional and local nuances that must be mastered. Yet, one can acknowledge those statements and -- in many cases -- come back to a fundamental truth about an AD position at an FBS scho

By most if not all accounts, Boo Corrigan has been an extremely good steward of the athletic department at the United States Military Academy.

A school's athletic department website is where resumes and achievements get trumpeted, so there's no need to rattle off a long laundry list here in this space. Let's just say that Army -- across all sports -- has become better, deeper, more resourceful, and more victorious. This is true in terms of overall winning percentage in competitions of all kinds. It's true in head-to-head meetings with Navy, where Corrigan worked in the past.

On an overall level, Army's in a pretty good place. The whole of the athletic department is progressing.

Corrigan, who has worked in the past at Duke and Notre Dame in addition to Navy, clearly has experience in the specific theater of a prestigious national athletic program which is a lot more than the locality itself (though the locality's concerns obviously represent the cornerstone of the operation and set a tone which flows outward to the rest of the nation). Corrigan has found a niche in his career as an administrator, and in terms of running an athletic department on a day-to-day basis, he's highly competent. This is something to be thankful for; while many good stewards exist in college athletics, there are plenty of examples -- enough to notice, at any rate -- of athletic directors who either preside over wayward programs or participate in various actions (or inactions) which stain a university's reputation and good name.

Just look at what's happening at Baylor and Tennessee, or what did happen in the past at North Carolina. Consider the athletic directors who hired football or basketball coaches with numerous (or glaring) red flags on their resumes. Think of the athletic directors who embarrassed themselves with their conduct -- we've seen examples at Georgia and Minnesota in the course of the past several years.

Army should definitely consider itself fortunate to have Boo Corrigan. He's been that solid, steady steward a university should want.

That said, how does an athletic director go from being "a good, solid caretaker" to "a memorable historical figure"?

At a place such as Gonzaga (to use an example of a basketball school), it would be to make the Final Four.

At a place such as Arkansas State (where football is the priority in the local culture but the program isn't particularly national in scope), the alumni and fans are happy if the football team makes a bowl game on a consistent basis, and with seasons that exceed 7-5 a reasonable percentage of the time.

At Army, one doesn't have to look very hard or far to divine the answer to an athletic director's prayers: It's a victory over Navy on the second Saturday of December. 

Getting Army its first-ever men's NCAA tournament berth (the hire of Jimmy Allen appears to be a smart move) could actually give Corrigan a place in the sun, but the surest and straightest way to immortality is that long-sought win over the Midshipmen. No, this isn't a discussion about 2016; it's a larger reflection on what would give Corrigan an entrenched -- and positive -- place in history. 

It was not an obvious or clear-cut decision for Corrigan to stay with an option-based head coach after Rich Ellerson was dismissed, but Corrigan bet big on Jeff Monken. If that bet is rewarded with even one win against Navy, Corrigan gets to be the man who hired the man who ended "The Streak."

This isn't meant to dismiss the other sports, or the academics, or the fiscal responsibility which is a core part of administrative performance -- all those things matter a great deal. This mention of that one elusive goal is merely a reflection of where we are in a cultural sense with Army Athletics.

This isn't about diminishing the essentials; it's about elevating the desirables.

Good stewardship earns an athletic director lasting gratitude and appreciation.

A win over Navy? That would give Boo Corrigan a special place in Army history.

The progress is there; the patience in search of something greater? That's the harder quality to sustain in all this, but Boo Corrigan is prepared to wait for his moment.


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