New USC athletic director Mike Bohn will bring enthusiasm to the position, as well as much-needed outside ideas to transform the Trojans for the better.
Arguably the greatest failure of former USC athletic director Lynn Swann was his inaccessibility and apparent disinterest in the minutia of the job.
That’s not something Trojan fans should worry about when it comes to new USC athletic director Mike Bohn, who is expected to be hired officially in the coming days.
Most recently the Cincinnati AD, Bohn is well-known for being engaging. Incredibly so. And not just with the top-of-the-line donors.
A profile in The Athletic earlier this year revealed Bohn’s habit of filling his schedule with UC sporting events, from football to basketball to women’s volleyball, even high school football. He made a point of turning up to Cincinnati tailgates, a form of grassroots glad-handing.
“It’s all about relationships,” Bohn said. “Who am I not to walk up to someone and shake their hand, hear what they have to say? I might learn something.”
That last line should stand out. Bohn is athletic director who acknowledges he doesn’t know everything. What a thought.
Those qualities endeared him to the Cincinnati faithful, who are generally sad to see him go.
Nor was his approach unique to Cincinnati. As Colorado AD, he rewarded the 50 most loyal student supporters of Buffalo basketball by gifting them a trip to the 2012 Pac-12 Tournament, as detailed by the Daily Camera. When the team won the tournament and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament, Bohn took them to that tournament as well.
In that same article, Kyle Ringo presented a litany of other stories to demonstrate Bohn’s “unconventional and inclusive style.”
He replaced wood doors in his office with glass “so everyone would feel welcome.” He hosted 22 roundtable events to engage with the media in eight years. He helped a student by waiting for the police to report their stolen bike while the student made it to class on time. When a fan at a CU event commented on the pullover Bohn was wearing, he literally took it off and gave it to the man.
Of course, being a nice guy doesn’t make you a good AD, but Bohn’s record is plenty strong in that regard. Mostly because he has been committed to putting every ounce of his energy into the job.
He has 22 years of experience as an athletic director. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing—he was ousted at Colorado because of the poor performance of the football program, though not before making the Mike MacIntyre hire which paid off after Bohn’s departure.
At Cincinnati, he scheduled home-and-home series aggressively and was praised for his fundraising efforts. He helped boost Bearcat performance in Olympic sports as well.
USC fans at large will be most concerned with his hiring record, of course. The good news is he has had a track record of savvy hires. They haven’t all worked out, but few were made with poor judgement.
Most recently, his hiring of Luke Fickell, who was voted the AAC Coach of the Year in 2018, has worked out beautifully.
And of course, there’s the Urban Meyer connection. Meyer is an alumnus of Cincinnati and Fickell was on his staff at Ohio State. There is a clear link between Bohn and Meyer, which will do little to quell the rumor mill regarding the national championship winner.
There remains a whole lot for USC and Bohn to work out, but at least one tidbit has emerged in the hours since the news broke. Bohn is expected to bring along with him Cincinnati’s chief revenue officer Brandon Sosna, per Joe Danneman of FOX19 in Cincinnati.
That means the Trojan athletic department will include more than a few new faces as Bohn sets out on getting the ship back on the right course. New ideas and new ways of doing things, a shaking up of the way USC has always done things, is the first step.