John Wildhack was introduced as Syracuse University’s next athletics director on Tuesday morning. Prior to coming to Syracuse, Wildhack served as ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and production since January 2014. Here are three takeaways from his press conference:
1. He doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
“It’s great to be home,” Wildhack said in his opening remarks.
Wildhack is an upstate New York native, graduated from Syracuse in 1980, and has strong ties to SU. It’s a direct contrast to Mark Coyle, who spent the majority of his career in the Midwest and Western parts of the country.
Coyle left after less than one year at Syracuse.
“Central New York is important to me and our family,” Wildhack said. “This is the first move I’ve made in 36 years. That tells you I’m not the most transient person.”
2. He’ll schedule more non-Power 5 opponents in football
Continuing with a philosophy advanced by Coyle, Wildhack discussed his vision for Syracuse football scheduling. The Orange has not been to a bowl game in two seasons, and has not been ranked in the top 25 since the 2001 season.
Part of that has to do with Syracuse’s strength of schedule, which is perennially ranked among the most difficult in college football.
“Obviously, you want to compete at a high level, but […] in our division, you have Clemson and Florida State,” Wildhack said. “We want to play Power 5 non-conference foes, but I want to schedule in a way that will enable our student athletes and coaching staff to have success.”
3. He has a long-standing relationship with Jim Boeheim
Wildhack said that there is no one more “loyal and dedicated to the University than Julie and Jim (Boeheim).”
Their relationship extends back to Boeheim’s time growing up in Lyons, New York.
“Jim used to go to my grandfather’s drug store and have a little soda every once in a while, a little root beer float,” Wildhack said. “We like to play golf. We’re both mediocre. We both used to be pretty good.”
When asked about the transition from Boeheim to Mike Hopkins, Wildhack wanted to “navigate that as best as we can.”