I received a text today that suggests something pretty surprising. It said that Tom Anastos, Commissioner of the CCHA Conference, is leaving that post to become the new head coach at Michigan State. The Spartans position is currently vacant after the (forced?) retirement of Rick Comley.
From my vantage point this sounds really odd; I'm trying to imagine NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman leaving his post to coach the Ottawa Senators next season. But maybe that analogy is flawed, after all, Anastos does have 2 years of assistant coaching experience under his belt so he's clearly the most qualified candidate to take over for Comley.
Maybe I'm selling Anastos short - I'm told that he also has a year of head coaching experience at "Michigan-(Deerborn)" which is mentioned in this old press release from when he took on the Commissioner position.
I contacted Paul Kelly from College Hockey Inc. and asked him if something odd was going on and this was his reply:
"This development certainly caught the college hockey community by surprise. I can understand why it has already caused concern within the CCHA, especially on the heels of the Big Ten announcement earlier this week. The CCHA has strong and committed programs remaining and I believe that it will continue to be a strong hockey conference in the years to come.What is perhaps most confusing here is that the CCHA Commissioner is taking a step down and doing so at a program that is actually about to leave the CCHA. In his position at the top of the CCHA, Anastos is supposed to be (as described by another contact) "leading his conference against the exodus of teams and help preserve the CCHA's standing in NCAA hockey". With MSU, Michigan and Ohio State poised to leave in 2013 for the newly announced Big 10 Conference... does this strike anyone else as odd?
Tom Anastos is a hockey guy and has lived and breathed the sport as a player, coach and administrator his entire life. I have no doubt that the head coaching part will come easy to him. I have sat and watched college and NHL games with Tom and he is one of the smartest and most perceptive hockey analysts you will find anywhere. He also has great leadership and motivational skills. I think this will prove to be an excellent move by MSU.
"Greasy" was the word used by that TPS contact.
The Spartans have made it official issuing this press release.