The big decision - the naming of Maryland's permanent AD - is still some ways off, but the smaller one - the naming of Maryland's interim AD - was finished yesterday when Randy Eaton was named to the position. But at this point, Eaton is little more than a name to most fans. So let's get to know our AD for the next few months a little bit better.
First off, the basics: Eaton is 49 years old and has been a part of the department since 2003. He serves essentially as the CFO of the program, though his official title is "senior assistant athletic director." He knows the programs - and their necessary budgets - very well, which likely heavily contributed to his appointment.
Luckily for Maryland, he holds a trait that seemed to escape former AD Debbie Yow, at least in her later years: straight likability. The WaPo called him "well-regarded" for his "straightforward-yet-personable" approach. They also say he has strong relations with men's basketball and football, which is very refreshing after the non-revenue emphasis of Yow. Jeff Barker said he's "not regarded as a polarizing figure." A "basketball insider" said that "everone likes him." Again, very refreshing after the Yow-Gary spats in the past.
He's never been a full-time AD at any level, but he was interim AD at East Tennessee State in 1998, so he's not completely new to the process.
As for what Eaton will ultimately look to accomplish in his short time in office? Well, he's an interim AD, after all, and will be limited in his future involvement. He's said his goal is to not wreck the ship, and that's an admirable one. His financial experience will come in handy as he deals with the budget, which is always an issue at Maryland, but I'd be surprised if he ended up starting any projects.
Also, I wouldn't expect to hear Eaton's name all that much when it comes to the search. He's not sure yet if he wants to be a candidate for the ultimate spot, but it's doubtful he's be given serious consideration considering the credentials of some of the other candidates. He won't be on the search committee, either (on a side note, Brenda Frese will, which probably bodes well for the two names I mentioned earlier - Castiglione at Oklahoma and Hathaway at UConn - due to the success of their women's basketball programs). And while it's possible that he'd remain on board after the new AD is hired, it seems unlikely at the moment; I'd imagine the new AD would have their own person in mind for their second-in-command.
Ultimately, it seems a good decision for a short-term AD. He knows the program, he knows the finances, and he's well-liked. There's really nothing to complain about.
Oh, and one last thing: remember when I complained about the way Ralph Friedgen assessed (ie, deflected) failure? Well, Eaton takes the best approach possible. Check out the end to the WaPo article linked above:
"I feel as the interim athletic director, my role is to take the blame when things go wrong," Eaton said. "And when things go good, everybody else, they get the kudos."