Earlier this week the University of Maine introduced Ken Ralph as the Director of Athletics at UMaine.
While I have not met him in person yet, I have spoken with him on the radio. And I have done a bunch of reading up on him. And I like what I see.
Orono is a small fish in the big NCAA athletics pond. That’s not likely to change soon. The Black Bears average a new boss just about every three years. I think that just might change with Ralph.
He is from New Hampshire and still has family there. That’s good.
He has been the top dog at his last two jobs. Cool. In the past Maine has hired folks who have been rank and file types at major programs. No disrespect, but Black Bear athletics have very little in common with the big boys. Ralph was the AD at RPI and for the last eleven years at Colorado College. I like that.
I also really like he was there for eleven years! That’s an eternity in the world of athletics. It shows commitment. If Mr. Ralph stays on the job for half of that in Orono, that will be a major improvement over the folks who have been here the past 16 years or so.
I have said before I think Karlton Creech did an admirable job while here, but it was never a question of “if” he would hit the road, but “how soon?” I suspect we won’t have that feeling with Ken Ralph.
I also like that the past two departments he has guided each have Men’s Hockey as their flagship program. Black Bear fans know Colorado College has been a hockey power for years with seven NCAA tourney trips. From 1993 to 2013, the Tigers averaged 24.15 wins a season.
But it is interesting. After two down years Ralph and longtime coach Scott Owens parted ways. In the last four years under new head coach Mike Haviland, the Tigers have stunk mostly playing way under .500 hockey.
I believe that after a long drought, in year six of the Red Gendron era, he needs to lead Maine back to the NCAA tournament two of the next three years. I wonder if the new AD feels the same way?
Ken Ralph also brings with him a reputation of improving facilities. He just broke ground on a new 39 million dollar hockey complex before he took the Maine gig. The experts say Alfond needs some updating to truly make Black Bear hockey competitive again. I’ll be curious to see what the building looks like in five years.
Maybe I’m Bananas (His real name is Jeff by the way. I swear.) but I think there’s a lot for Black Bear faithful to feel good about with this new hire.
Blog by Jeff Solari