When I heard UNLV had tacked on another year to Tina Kunzer-Murphy’s contract as UNLV’s interim athletic director, my first thought was good for her. And good for the coaches who supported her.
My second thought was if this gets back to Pat Dye, he’s probably not going to like it.
The former Auburn football coach got himself into hot water the other day when he said former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should not serve on the selection committee for the college football playoffs because she never played the game.
What Dye seemed to be inferring was that while Madam Secretary has sat at the negotiating table discussing nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, college football is serious business. It’s no place for a woman.
Condi Rice also was provost at Stanford, which is like Harvard, only with a better football team. So I am certain that if you provided her with the facts, figures and third-down tendencies of the college football playoff hopefuls, she could make heads or tails of them, and she probably wouldn’t go for the tie against Syracuse in the Sugar Bowl, like some people.
So that was my first thought when I received the news release about Tina Kunzer-Murphy being named semi-permanent UNLV athletic director with an asterisk. She being a woman and all.
And that Neal Smatresk should have just stepped to the plate like Roger Maris. None of this check-swing stuff. Take a rip. Aim for the bleachers.
The UNLV president should have removed the interim tag from her title, because it won’t look good on her business card when Kunzer-Murphy goes knocking on doors asking for money.
Person with money: “Why should I write a check for a new football training center with mahogany locker cubicles when I don’t even know if you’re going to be around by the time it gets built?”
Tina Kunzer-Murphy (effecting Jackie Gleason-as-Ralph Kramden impression): “Hamana-hamana-hamana.”
So take off that asterisk, Mr. President.
For starters, it’s not like this is an important job or anything. Charlie Cavagnaro did it. Mike Hamrick did it. So how difficult can it be?
Plus, how many athletic directors can you identify by name? Other than DeLoss Dodds. He’s A.D. at Texas, and he’s always making those Hook ‘em Horns signs with his fingers. That’s probably why I know his name. And because Texas kind of stinks in football now, and so a lot of people down there are saying DeLoss Dodds must go, and that he should take that Mack Brown with him.
Kunzer-Murphy may not know how to contain the spread offense (neither, apparently, does Mack Brown), but she has the support of the coaches who will be working under her. All of the coaches. One told me there were 15 “ayes” when Dr. Smatresk put it to a vote in a meeting last week. There were zero “nays.”
Total solidarity. This was like the Teamsters voting for Jimmy Hoffa.
Check that. I have known Tina Kunzer-Murphy for years; she can be a tough cookie when it comes to stuff in which she believes, or in making difficult personnel decisions, or in getting money that is owed her, or when you suggest in print the main reason she was so successful as Las Vegas Bowl director was because Brigham Young hired Bronco Mendenhall to coach its football team.
But she does not wield a baseball bat, like some people will have you believe.
So this love affair between her and the coaches is more like Pat Dye’s cronies voting Alabama No. 1 in the USA Today poll, except Oregon and Clemson didn’t get any first-place votes.
Look, I don’t know how Tina Kunzer-Murphy is going to do as UNLV’s semi-permanent athletic director with an asterisk any more than you. Or any more than those coaches who support her. This is a difficult time to be asking people for money. But at least she’s local. At least she knows what doors to knock upon.
And like UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck, she works cheap.
Her salary for agreeing to become UNLV’s semi-permanent athletic director with an asterisk through 2014 is $180,000. That makes her the fourth-lowest paid athletic director in the country. The only ones making less are the guy at Air Force and the guys at the Louisiana schools with the hyphens, Monroe and Lafayette.
(The Air Force job is a piece of cake because you don’t have to knock on doors for money; Uncle Sam just writes you a check. At least when Uncle Sam is open.)
Jim Livengood, UNLV’s last athletic director without an asterisk, was paid an annual salary of $350,000. He had incentives worth another $262,501, if certain criteria were met.
Jim Livengood no longer is UNLV’s athletic director. But UNLV still owes Jim Livengood money.
So I say give the lady a chance.
She’s local, the coaches like her, she already has saved UNLV $170,000, plus bonus incentives. And it’s still only football season.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski