John Currie is gone now, walking away from the struggles and decisions and successes and problems he helped create in the athletic department at Kansas State. He is leaving for more money and a better league and old friendships as the new athletic director at Tennessee.
Nobody can begrudge him that personal choice. Who among us wouldn’t leave our current jobs if it meant better pay, more stability, a higher profile, and going home?
But this is a strange situation, still, because usually when a man leaves for an objectively better job it means he’s outgrown his old place and the people there are sad to see him go.
Here, with Currie and K-State, not so much.
Currie did more to help K-State athletics in his eight years in charge than he will be remembered for. He wouldn’t admit this, even privately, but that had to bother him on some levels. He was a proper fundraiser who was always driven by the realization that facility upgrades are by far the most important daily priority of an athletic director in modern major college sports.
But if Currie is as smart and self-aware as he came across in private conversations, then he also must realize that in the ways that matter most — particularly to fans — he is leaving K-State in worse shape than he found it.
Whatever preparation Currie had done to hire the next football coach — even Bill Snyder is unlikely to coach forever — will have to be taken up on the fly by the next athletic director.
More immediately, Bruce Weber’s men’s basketball program is the next man’s problem. Currie made that hire five years ago, and no matter how much he wants to talk about Weber outperforming most of that year’s hiring class, Weber has already been around longer than some athletic directors may have allowed and Weber’s continued employment at K-State has presumably depended on making this year’s NCAA Tournament.