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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Purinton is the right fit for Arkansas State

by Wally Hall | August 24, 2022 at 3:04 a.m.

It made sense that ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit knows Arkansas State Athletic Director Jeff Purinton.

Purinton came to ASU from Alabama, the giant of all football programs in the country.

During his 15 seasons with the Crimson Tide. ESPN's "College GameDay" came to Tuscaloosa 12 times and Purinton was the point man to get everything done to GameDay's satisfaction and even more importantly to Nick Saban's approval.

When David Bazzel was recognizing guests at Monday's Little Rock Touchdown Club luncheon, where Herbstreit was the speaker, and he pointed out Purinton and Herbstreit later said:

"Jeff and I go way back. I have nothing but respect for him, professionally and personally."

Apparently so much so that Herbstreit, the face of college football, wrote a short testimony that is part of Purinton's biography on the Arkansas State website:

"I've known Jeff for more than 20 years going back to the FSU dynasty days in the 90s when we were both in the early stages of our careers. We've worked together and been friends since then, but the main reason I think so highly of him is the trust and respect factor, as well as the level of professionalism he has always maintained in doing his job. That's why his name was the first I recommended to Coach Saban back in 2007 when he was looking to improve relationships with television and national media and deal with the external areas of the football program. He's taken on expanded administrative roles at Alabama now, but he still makes sure ESPN College GameDay and the broadcast announcers are treated in a first-class manner when we come to Tuscaloosa. Jeff is one of the good guys in the industry. He has a great family, and he makes the place he works better. He knows college football and college athletics, and Arkansas State got it right when they hired Jeff Purinton."

Others who shared their respect for Purinton are Saban, Gre Byrne (Tide athletic director), Mark Ingram (Tide Heisman Trophy winner), Nate Oats (Tide head basketball coach), Tiffini Grimes (Tide senior deputy athletic director) and James King (Tide faculty rep).

Purinton, who started his career in sports information at Florida State before moving to the Orange Bowl, was hired by Alabama in 2007 when Saban was hired.

Purinton became Saban's right hand man in dealing with all things media and grew into the same role for Byrne.

The opinion here is that dealing with Saban would be a tough job, which was mentioned to Purinton on Monday.

He laughed and quickly said he thought Saban and yours truly would have gotten along fine, that he likes a little give and take.

Wasn't sure if he emphasized the little or not.

The early return on Purinton is he fits in Jonesboro and at Arkansas State.

That's important since the last AD, Tom Bowen, was only there for 13 months, which might have seemed longer to him.

Purinton, his wife Julie and two daughters adapted quickly.

"It is a lot like Tuscaloosa," he said. "Tuscaloosa has about 100,000 and we are about 80,000. It is a good size for us."

Purinton was hired on May 4 and hit the ground running.

He's got his finger on the pulse of college athletics and with his contacts is able to stay in front of the ever-changing landscape.

In these economic times, all athletic directors are having to work a little harder, dig a little deeper and Purinton, by all accounts, is a tireless worker.

It looks like ASU System President Dr. Chuck Welch and his Board of Trustees found the right guy at the right time.

Print Headline: Purinton is the right fit for Arkansas State


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