Baylor’s hiring binge continued in a big way today as news broke that Austin Thomas, Texas A&M’s highly regarded Associate AD for Football Personnel (essentially their director of recruiting) will join Baylor Football in a role I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of before: General Manager of Football Operations. Bruce Feldman broke the news this morning and then followed up with the tweet below:
Austin Thomas will have a unique job with #Baylor in a GM capacity that continues to push the off-the-field roles in college football, connected to the admin side as well as to the head coach, per source. https://t.co/ZWvRsSX9S2— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 24, 2020
If you’ve never heard of a GM in CFB, you’re not alone as Feldman’s tweet attests. But I think we can take from that the basic outline of what Thomas’s role will be—he won’t be the Athletic Director (that’s still Mack Rhoades) or the recruiting director (which I assume will be the incoming Vince Guinta from Oregon State) but will instead be a liaison of sorts between the AD and the football program responsible for oversight of virtually everything. This is an expansion of his role with A&M (which was almost entirely about recruiting) and something more akin to what he did previously at LSU, where he also had a GM-esque title.
In an article on 247Sports from his time in Baton Rouge, Barton Simmons had the following to say after spending a day with Thomas: “The casual college football fan doesn’t know Thomas. The fanatical LSU fan does. His official title is General Manager. But even the LSU hardcores don’t really know what that means. They just know he’s important.” He also described his role as basically the overseer of everything having to do with the football program so that the coaches can just coach: “The General Manager tag that accompanies Thomas’ position is a valiant effort at corralling his responsibilities into one title but it still fails. At varying points during my day with Austin at LSU any of the following would have been apt descriptors: Director of Player Personnel, Position Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, Associate Athletic Director, Assistant to the Head Coach, Graduate Assistant and more.” Given that Aranda was there during Thomas’s time with LSU, I think we can assume this is a good description of what we’re getting, too, but probably with a pay raise since that’s how these things tend to go.
As a general rule in hiring, I like it when you hire/steal someone from somewhere else and it really pisses them off. This hire appears to have done that for A&M as well as people in our own conference that appear to regard this as a big-time hire. Thomas has valuable experience helping run one of the biggest football programs in the country, has been a key behind-the-scenes guy in helping recruit top classes to two different schools, and is familiar with Aranda and how he likes to operate. It’s a tremendous hire from all accounts that is frankly shocking to me when I consider how far we’ve come in our commitment to running an elite football program. And it’s only the beginning.
We still don’t have an OC yet, though, and no, I don’t know if Meatball Johnson is really going to come.
UPDATE: Meatball is officially coming!
#LSU analyst Dennis Johnson, a key cog in the Tigers' recruiting machine, is heading to #Baylor as D-line coach, sources tell @SINow.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) January 24, 2020
How much did Dave Aranda want him? The 31-year-old's deal is expected to triple his old salary.
He's arriving in Waco tonight.
I’m on my phone, but I did some spitballing about current status on Twitter:
Need an OC that will probably work with either RBs or QBs and then whichever one is left of those. Need an OL coach assuming Bell doesn’t do it. Need LBs confirmed and CBs/Safeties.— OAranDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) January 24, 2020