Mike Hill and the Future

Mike Hill is coming up on his four year anniversary. I think he has, without dispute, grabbed some of the low hanging fruit and things that needed to be done, such as modernizing the logo. Personal taste aside, he has certainly driven forward the brand.

The question for me is, what does the future of Mike Hill look like and what does the future WITH Mike Hill look like. Does Mike Hill view this as a stepping stone job or is he settled in and ready for a 25 year run a la Judy. I think that will determine a lot of things that happen next.

I think we can all agree Sanchez was a good hire on paper. A lot of us wanted someone with HC experience, but it was hard to argue Sanchez’s credentials as a top assistant. That looks to be clearly not working out. Healy brought a lot of excitement, but the jury is still out on him as a viable program manager. The two biggest hires four years in seem to be an F grade and C+ with a question mark grade. Hill seems to have made some other pretty good hires, but frankly, so did Judy.

If Hill has plans to end up as an AD at a P5 institution, I think he will need to make leaps and bounds. AAC is great, but if the last 13 years has proven anything, it’s that conference affiliation can hurt you but being in a good conference for a sport doesn’t mean it will help, you still have to put a winning product out there. Our time in the A10 shows that. We’ve been worse than our conference for 15 years. Does he pull the trigger on Sanchez? Do they figure out how to make more gear available and improve brand penetration, not just branding. What happens to Healy if he has another below average season?

NWA says Hill talks about winning a lot. I appreciate that. But what is the direction of the department? Are we full steam ahead do what it takes to hire winners and promote excellence, or is this more of a sit in the front seat, collect a $400k paycheck, hope that the results end up good over the next decade plus and ride it out.

To me, we are at the absolute most critical juncture in Hill’s tenure over the next 12-18 months since his hiring.

The question I have is - who is Mike Hill and what is our future with him at the helm? #Family and personal relationships and second chances, or a ruthless AD that puts winning above friendships and will do anything except cheat, steal, or act to the detriment of our players to win? With the four year sample size, I’m curious what you all think, especially since some really big decisions are going to have to be made in the near future.

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Starting to seem like he’s Judy without any whales to fundraise from.

Dude has been in his job for 4 years and has only had one opportunity to hire our fb or bb coach. And our supposed biggest fans are saying he’s the next Judy because his first hires don’t seem to be home runs.

Edit: not saying Hill is our savior. But seems a bit early to say the ad is someone who just wants a job and doesn’t care about winning. If you look at his other hires it looks like he may have just missed on the two jobs that fans care about the most

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Winning is easy.

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I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s very difficult to make excellent hires. The question posed was, what does Hill do moving forward? Do we continue to try to hire choir boys who do things “the right way” ? Do we let Sanchez keep the Learning and Growing train running full steam?

I wasn’t a big fan of the Healy hire (although I’ve come to like him as a public figure), but I thought Sanchez looked undisputedly good on paper when we hired him. It’s the ridiculous extensions that are mind boggling. The question posed is who will Mike Hill be? If he doesn’t make some cut throat decisions we will know.

We’re winning a lot more across the board. Sports where we weren’t winning (ignoring Soccer, T&F, Golf). Baseball is getting the resources it deserves and delivering, Softball is turning it around, Tennis had historically good seasons, VB is no longer a cellar dweller, etc. It’s hard for me to say he “doesn’t care about winning” when we’re seeing more winning across the board. Throw in branding, presence, and all the low hanging fruit we bitched about and the fact that we are now in the AAC says he’s working to deliver us to the promised land. These are all net positives in my mind.

Sanchez on paper was a home-run hire. I also think he deserves 4 years given the terrible state the program was in when he arrived. The only thing I’d do differently with him is the extension, but if he is shown the door after this year, we get the end result the majority of the fanbase wants anyways. It’s hard for me to be super critical on Hill with that hire.

Will Healy was a risky hire, jury is still out on him and next season will show what kind of coach he is going to be. Even still, he got us bowling and I think from a perception and talent standpoint, the program is in a better place than when he arrived. Next 12 months is critical for him. Coupled with going to the AAC, we should be able to attract some good candidates no matter what happens with him.

Hiring is such a crapshoot, that I’m not going to be super pissed at the AD if they take a guy with a solid resume and he doesn’t pan out (Sanchez). Even Healy which was more of a risk, was a well received hire and had a pretty obvious upside. I can’t fault the two hires, I can fault how long we hold onto them if they’re failing.

Hill has done a solid B- job for us in my mind. Getting us to the AAC is a master move which I think a lot of us take for granted. I’ve also noticed we’re in the media a lot more, branding is better, non revenue sports are performing well and we’re run in a more professional manner. Misses are Sanchez extension and Master Plan silence.

I will say I think we have a battered fan syndrome, and we are not patient anymore (which is fair). I don’t think its fair though to put that all on Mike Hill. I’ve never gotten the impression that he is just sitting back and collecting a paycheck.

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Honest assessment IMHO:

Sanchez- D-
Healy- C
Woodard- A

All other sports- Who gives a rats ass?

Not stellar by any measure and can it be fixed is my question. I think the answer is not if we aren’t willing to spend the cash needed to dump Sanchez. He ain’t gonna work out, that’s painfully, and I stress painfully, obvious.

Healys next year is huge.

Fun fact: we went bowling with Lambert recruits/walk-ons/players.

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He took us bowling, Lambert didn’t.

Our worst full season with Healy is as good as Lamberts best. I don’t think demeaning his accomplishments is productive.

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At the end, it all comes down to donor $$$. I will gage his success on the money coming in and the ROI of money going out. Since we are now officially part of the P6, we need to start spending money like a P6 which means upgrading facilities, hiring quality coaches, etc. If he can’t do that, then all of this will have been for naught. I know it’s an uphill battle, no matter the size of the school, metropolitan area, etc, since we are always going to be competing with the ACC fans that probably make up a majority of Niner students, alumni and local residents. Most of these people bleed blue and red and that will never change. What we have to do is, at least, get these people to come to a Niner event when their primary team is traveling. So upgrading facilities to make it an enjoyable experience and so that they walk into the Rich and Halton and have their jaw drop, is needed. NC State FB games have beer options at every concession stand and have numerous food options. Their pregame field events make people want to get to their seats early. Also, having coaches that produce wins against lesser teams (which should be expected) and get a win or two against a team that would be an upset gets us on the map and ESPN. All of this brings excitement and attention to our school and this attention and excitement, in addition to donor $$, will be how I grade him.

He did that his first season…

Meaning it wasn’t with his players. His recruiting classes have been ranked much higher than ever under Lambert and he has brought in more talented transfers than ever and Covid has given him super seniors to work with. And he’s gotten worse not better. We should be significantly better at this point and we’re not. Defensively we’re not just worse than prior years we were embarrassingly worse than all but 6 or so other programs in the country! With improved recruiting, all the transfers and super seniors… How the f@ck is that possible for any competent coach!?

He is a media darling and a whiz at talking the talk. But he’s failing at what’s important… Winning. When you consider the talent upgrade… He’s failing in a big way.

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He still took us to a bowl, something Lambert was unable to do. Giving him credit for that is crazy to me while demeaning what Healy did.

Offensively we are light years better, defensively we went from doing one thing well to doing nothing well.

For Healy next year is a big test for him, I think West needs to go so we’ll see what happens on that front. Demeaning what he has accomplished for the program currently though doesn’t make sense to me, many on this board like doing it tho.

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Not demeaning. It is just a fun fact. :grin: Like I said.

Lambert’s last year he missed bowling by 1 game. Healy takes his players and wins 1 extra game.

Since then… He’s brought in substantially more talent over 3 years and the defense is ridiculously worse than ever and he just matched Lambert’s last season win total.

After 3 years of higher recruits, a buttload of highly rated transfers and super seniors… That’s failing

That’s facts… If that’s also demeaning to Healy that’s on him.

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I see a lot of donor $$$ talk on this board. Typically it is people saying they are done giving until we win or someone gets fired. To each his own I guess. But seriously…do well funded programs win or do winning programs generate donor dollars?

We seem to be stuck in that middle ground. We will not win with fantasy dollars. We will not have a bigger stadium with fantasy dollars. But if everyone stands off to the side waiting the participate until we win, I don’t know how to get past where we are.

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Unfortunately they both have a symbiotic relationship to each other. This is why I’m putting that added pressure on Hill. It’s easy to ride into a winning heritage and keep it going if the $$ is easily attainable, but that isn’t the case at Charlotte. True leaders seek a challenge and not the easy path, so let’s see if Hill is that true leader that will be able to build enthusiasm and $$ without a winning heritage to back it. I don’t know if he is that person, but I also don’t yet know if he isn’t. It only takes a season or two to devastate programs such as Charlotte, unfortunately it can take decades to repair such damage. Let’s hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that the light isn’t a train heading straight at us.

He did win two extra but point noted. We underachieved this year and last no doubt, and have a hard cap on our win total till the D gets competent.

Next year is huge but if Reynolds doesn’t return the odds on our over/under will be below 6 I would imagine.

Also a bowl is not the goal, winning the conference is. A bowl is the minimum for a year not to be a disappointment.

I’ll still donate something…but I’m done buying tickets. I buy tickets to go be entertained and when I attend a game I am much less entertained than I am frustrated and pissed off. Been buying season tix for Fball since inception and Bball since 1995…after the last 15 years…my sanity has finally reached it’s breaking point. I’ll buy single game tickets on occassion maybe and will simply foillow online and on TV. That way…I can walk away from the ticker/TV when I get pissed off and I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars to do so.

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So I gather from the discussions on here that the honeymoons are officially over with Ron and Will? Mike too? Good. Now they all need to s*** or get off the pot, to borrow an old worn out phrase. Worn out. Like I am suffering through football and basketball seasons here.

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We had a lot of low hanging fruit that Mike has knocked out. Branding, connecting to the city, talking with smaller donors, revamping social media presence, connecting with the students - he has done all of that. The school adopting athletics branding and moving more towards using Charlotte shows a connection between he and Gaber is much more symbiotic. He has not run his AD as family.

He came in and said winning matters. He threw down that gauntlet. He then backed that up by letting go of coaches that were not getting that done. We are better in nearly every sport not basketball or football. With basketball he made a great hire that just hasn’t worked out. The second extension is mindblowing, but to me that is just about the only misstep he has made. The first extension I am not as upset about. Keeping coaches with 4/5 years under contract is normal. I probably wouldn’t have done that there, but it wasn’t the worst thing. The second extension though really confounds explanation. The good thing is in the long run that likely didn’t cost us THAT much money withthe contract wording. In football he hired a guy that took us bowling his first year, had a season wrecked by covid that you really shouldn’t count at all and then had a year where we were 4-2 before falling apart. I can’t call football a failure at all. Jury is def still out. The student crowds all year were amazing so what he is doing with football is going in the right direction.

If basketball stays around .500 I think odds are Mike moves on from Ron. With football I do wish Mike had stepped in a mandated West go if Will wasn’t gonna do it on his own, but this could also be Mike saying fine roll with your guy but next year it could be your head. We shall see. At some point Mike is going to have to start looking at his own hires and decide when it’s time to cut bait. You don’t hit on all of them. In his interview someone asked him a question about firing a coach. Remember Judy had just fired Price. He said at Florida there were a few times they fired a coach early in their contracts because it was clear they were either not a fit or couldn’t get it done.

Mike got us into the AAC when last go round we were not even on the radar. That is huge. We leap frogged a few other institutions without having significantly improved either money sport. To me that means what ever plan he has for success must have worked for them. In his interview Mike said finding a better long term conference home was imperative towards success. He started working that relationship immediately and was proactive in getting us where we needed to be. I am at a loss as to why we are still sitting on the master plan though as clearly that was a key component of the invitation.
I have seen parts of it and I know others have as well. Not sure what the hold up is. I fully expected it to drop this fall with the conference news. I would be nervous that means fund raising isn’t going well, but if it was that iffy the AAC wouldn’t have extended the invite. I am a bit confused there. Disappointed we haven’t seen it, but at the same time not worried that we haven’t. Would be nice to hear an update either on timeline or fundraising goals. He has reorganized fund raising in the AD and the fact we are hitting new records in fund raising each year tells me he knows what he is doing there. He has landed some 100k-1mil gifts, but we need some really big ones to make an impact to the long term goals.

As for his long term goals. I know he loves living in Charlotte. He loves the area and I think he truly believes we are on the edge of some really amazing things. I think he would leave us for 3 jobs, Chapel Hill, Clemson and Florida hands down. I am not sure other jobs move the needle enough for him to leave, but I wouldn’t say he sees this as a job to just coast through the next 20 years like the last person. I have said with other roles and I say it here - if Charlotte is your dream job, I don’t want you here. We are a stepping stone role for nearly everyone. That’s ok. Come here, make an impact and get paid by a P5 program. That’s the game.

Now the big thing is we are going to have to get our budget to 50 mil in the next 3-5 years and then to 75-80 mi in the next 10. We are at nearly 41 now. Thats a 20% increase in 3/5 years and a doubling in 10. That is going to require some really heavy lifting. Mike has some big challenges there. I would also like to see them keep trying to tackle the merchandise challenges, rework on campus tailgating and keep pushing our name and brand locally.

He has had 4 years. Basically 1 year to observe, 1 year to start making changes, then a crazy coivd year and now this year. I give him a B+ so far. Money is up, attendance in football is up, wins in nearly all sports are up, branding, conference move, with the detractions being delay in master plan, delay in announcing any new large donors, question over Ron, still to early to judge football, improvement opportunities to gameday experience with football. Overall I am pleased with where we are but a big caveat with how Mike handles Ron if this season goes the direction we are all thinking it is headed and the master plan.

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