In a stealth transition of power straight out of the CIA playbook, Alabama has hired Arizona athletics director Greg Byrne to run the Crimson Tide's athletics department, FootballScoop can confirm. The news was first reported by Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star.
To make room for Byrne, Alabama athletics director Bill Battle has announced his retirement.
"It's been a distinct privilege and honor serving as Director of Athletics these last four years," Battle said in a statement. "When I took over this role my wife, Mary, and I made a commitment to serving four years and I am pleased to have been able to do just that. There are so many people in the department who do a great job every day to make the Crimson Tide successful. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of them for their extraordinary efforts and loyalty to the University. Being able to lead this department has been an honor and a privilege for which I am most grateful."
Battle is 75 and stepped away from the job last year to battle multiple myeloma. Hurt notes for the Tuscaloosa News Battle will officially step down when his contract expires in March. The Tide secured his successor -- one of the fastest-rising ADs in the country -- with Texas and Tennessee on the market. That's the type of move that, well, Nick Saban would've done to secure the Alabama athletics department's future.
Byrne had been Arizona's AD since 2010, where he hired Rich Rodriguez to run the football program and secured funding for multiple major facilities upgrades across the athletics departments. Prior to that he was the AD at Mississippi State from 2008-10, where he hired Dan Mullen to lead the Bulldogs' football program.
He'll inherit perhaps the most stable coaching situation in college football in Tuscaloosa, but Byrne's hiring secures Alabama has one of the most well-regarded athletics directors in the country in place to oversee the inevitable change once Saban does retire.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.