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Hire of Utah State athletics director Scott Barnes an impressive one for Pitt

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I always hesitate in trying to make knee-jerk decisions based on hires. Sometimes, like in the case of Mike Haywood, my lack of enthusiasm was warranted. Others, as was the case with Paul Chryst, who never got things turned around, my excitement over hires hasn't been justified.

But at the risk of overhyping the school's recent expected hiring of Scott Barnes as its next athletic director, it's hard not to like his addition.

Let's make things pretty clear. Barnes is not entirely, but largely, a football hire. While it's true that he played college basketball and was Chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, he probably doesn't land the job at Pitt if not for the job he did in hiring Gary Andersen at Utah State to turn the football program around. The Aggies have 30 wins over the past three years and that's due to Andersen getting things on track.

Pitt already has a new coach in Pat Narduzzi, but Barnes did more for the football program at Utah State besides just hiring Andersen. He is credited with upgrading football facilities - something Pitt is doing as well, as JD recently mentioned. He also secured funds for naming rights for the football stadium and while Pitt isn't in a position to do that playing at Heinz Field, it underscores his ability to get things accomplished and generate revenue (more on that in a bit). Paul Zeise had the Utah State play-by-play announcer on his radio show Thursday night and the biggest thing I took away from it is that he just gets things done.

And about generating revenue, Barnes knows how to do that, too. I won't go into it here since JD summed it up pretty well in his initial post, but Barnes secured money. A lot of it, too, considering it was at Utah State.

Now, to be fair, more money makes things more complicated. Besides the fundraising, Barnes will be managing a much larger budget:

The biggest change will be the increased budget he must manage as an athletic director at a power-five conference school. Pitt’s total athletic expenses for the year ending June 30, 2014 were $66.1 million, according to the Department of Education. Over the same timeframe, Utah State’s was $25.1 million.

Still, I'm not sure there's much cause for concern there. Barnes is managing the same type of things ... expenses, coaches, etc. It's not as if his job is changing - he's just dealing with more resources and bigger numbers.

The two most important things an athletics director can do in my estimation is have a successful football program and strong fundraising skills. Why? A few reasons. The fundraising part is obvious as it supports not only other athletics programs, but the school in general. A strong football program raises even more revenue and gives alumni a reason to be passionate about the school, raising its prestige. Any athletic director knows that but the ones that can have success in both areas are the ones that succeed.

Barnes has a strong background in those two things, but there's more still to like.

As mentioned, there is the link with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It's not that he can campaign for Pitt, mind you. Committee members can't even be in the same room when their teams are being discussed. Rather, it's that he was respected enough to land that position. Barnes is very well known and flat out connected. His familiarity, too, with the basketball side of things means that the hoops program won't go ignored. I'd expect him to make sure the resources are there for assistant coaches, facility upgrades, etc.

There's even a lot to like when it comes to the other sports. The guest on Zeise's show talked about how Utah State made great strides in other programs like gymnastics, softball, and tennis. Utah State also won the Excellence in Management Cup in 2009 for winning the most championships with the least amount of money. Basically, he's done more with less than anyone else in the country. If he can have that kind of success at Utah State, it's hard not to get excited about what he can do at Pitt with a significantly bigger budget.

Lastly, according to Zeise's guest, Barnes is extremely personable. That's something that really will be appreciated since Steve Pederson, whatever you thought of him, had turned off donors. It's great to hear that he has a strong personality and people relate to him.

The words of a big time Utah State booster help drive the point home that Barnes was well-liked among donors:

Jim Laub, a prominent USU booster and CEO of Cache Valley Electric, said he has been in mourning since Barnes told him the news Wednesday.

"His legacy is going to last for decades," Laub said. "It will be the facilities he built, the great picks he made as coaches and all the changes in the whole direction and mindset of the athletic program — not only at the university but in the community and within the fan base."

Laub was part of the committee which interviewed candidates for the athletic director's position, and said Barnes was a no-brainer pick then.

"He just had it, whatever 'it' is," he said. "He had the confidence and knew what he had to do."

Says it all, really.

Until Barnes begins his work at Pitt, we won't know what we've got. There's no telling what he'll do once he gets into a P5 school and sees significantly tougher competition. And when it comes to some of the Olympic sports, it will be much more difficult to turn them into powerhouses in a competitive ACC. But overall, his track record is far too impressive to ignore.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.