March 30, 2009

Monday with Mike: Pac-10 turns to WTA

The Pac-10 turned to the world of tennis for its new commissioner, hiring Larry Scott, 44, who had been chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

He's replacing the retiring Tom Hansen and will take over July 1. Scott wasn't the first choice Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal reported that Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, turned down the job in January but he is an interesting one.

Hansen was commissioner for 26 years, and of all the "Big Six" commissioners, he was the least powerful. Scott could change things. Hansen tended to be in lock-step with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on all things related to football, but Scott already has said one reason he was hired is that he brings a different perspective and has an open mind.

Under Scott's watch, the WTA improved its marketing, and improving the Pac-10's "brand" is something that would seem to be in Scott's wheelhouse.

The Pac-10 is an exceptionally strong league across the board, but its national perception lags behind most of its bigger-conference brethren in football and basketball.

Grid bits

Indiana coach Bill Lynch has announced that Kellen Lewis has been moved from quarterback to wide receiver. Lewis was a full-time quarterback in 2006, when IU went to a bowl. He split time at quarterback last season, when IU fell to 3-9. Hmm he plays quarterback full time, IU goes to a bowl; he splits time at quarterback, IU reeks. Gee, maybe it's me, but if I have a playmaker, I leave him at quarterback you know, a position where he has the ball in his hands on every play.

Former Nebraska and North Carolina State quarterback Harrison Beck plans to transfer to Division II North Alabama, where he would be eligible this fall. North Alabama's new coach is Terry Bowden. In two seasons at NCSU, Beck threw 16 interceptions and four touchdowns. In his one season at Nebraska, he threw one pick and no TDs.

While new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is receiving praise for his first recruiting class, especially the late signing of Bryce Brown - the nation's No. 1 prospect - you might be wondering what happened to his predecessor, Phil Fulmer. Well, it was announced recently that Fulmer will lead the April 4 parade for "Mule Days" in Columbia, Tenn., about 45 miles south of Nashville. "Mule Days" is an annual celebration of all things related to mules. (And, no, we're not making this up.)

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for He can be reached at

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