I can’t imagine any Georgia Tech alum feels anything but jubilation over this move. Todd Stansbury, himself a Techie, has been hired to replace Mike Bobinski, who did little to endear himself to Techies, and in his introductory briefing the new athletic director struck every right note.
He invoked Homer Rice and Bill Curry, Tech’s most beloved post-Dodd figures. Stansbury was among the first class of Rice’s Total People, which sounds corny if you didn’t matriculate along North Avenue but utterly resonates if you did. As AD at Central Florida and then Oregon State, Stansbury instituted a similar program. “We called it Everyday Champions,” he said. “I have a feeling it’s going to revert back to Total Person.”
Curry was Stansbury’s coach. “As young people, we think it’s like this everywhere else,” Stansbury said. “Coach Curry showed us it wasn’t like this everywhere else.”
For Tech alums, such sentiments are heavenly music. Tech folks love their Institute and consider it special, and they consider themselves special for having been smart enough and dedicated enough to be handed a diploma. (For the record, most every graduate of most every college feels the same.) Tech’s a public school but not a sprawling one, heightening the feeling of exclusivity. To have One Of Their Own in such a visible position is one big deal.
“This is home,” Stansbury said. “This is where I became who I am.”
He’s from Canada and grew up playing, duh, hockey. As a 10-year-old, he met Scott Zolke, the legendary former Tech academic advisor, on a Florida beach and gravitated toward the Flats and football. (Everyone who hung around Tech sports in the ’70s and ’80s has a Zolke story. Not all involve the seaside.) Stansbury again: “It’s always been my goal to come back to the Flats.”
Anyone who gets hired to a big-ticket job will wax rhapsodic about the new environs, but in Stansbury’s case they’re old environs. He lived here. He played here. He worked here. He took calculus. (And presumably passed._ Asked if, when he heard Bobinski had split for Purdue, he had interest in the job, Stansbury said: “Are you kidding?”
He was believed to have interest in 2012/2013, when the search committee recommended Bobinski. (Several alums were irate that Stansbury, then at UCF, wasn’t given a real look.) There was a different search committee this time, advised by the former Villanova/Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo. I’ve known and liked DeFilippo for 25 years, but Harpo Marx could have hit on Stansbury’s name. Because he’s not just a name. He’s a fit.
Stansbury spoke very little about specific sports Thursday; he talked mostly about athletes. He said he has sought to carry the Rice Total-Person concept wherever he has roamed — “I’ve become an evangelist.” And that’s OK: An athletic director isn’t paid to coach a team; he’s commissioned to Set A Tone. In Stansbury, the Jackets have found someone who already knows the words and the tune.
He’s a Tech man, which makes him a heck of an engineer. And this is a heck of a hire.
Further reading: What a football-first Tech AD might ask Paul Johnson.