[T]the alchemist of the stadium atmosphere [at Penn State] and of other changes around the football program is a man behind the curtain, Guido D'Elia, who is not even a permanent employee. D'Elia, a consultant from Pittsburgh brought in two years ago, has delighted some people and worried others with his aggressive innovations and his influence with Joe Paterno, the veteran coach in his 40th season.
"I am the designated trouble-stirrer of change," D'Elia said in one of two recent interviews in his office in the Lasch football center. "I'm the lightning rod. I'm Darth Vader. I'm the angel of death."
D'Elia, whose official title is director for communications and branding, often speaks in the hyperbole of a salesman. He has a background in television and Internet production with his company, Mind Over Media. He said the head groundskeeper at the stadium recently told him, "If you ever turned up missing, there would be an endless list of suspects."
Tim Curley, the athletic director, praised D'Elia for being creative and said: "He probably moves at a faster pace in terms of change than what we had traditionally done before. He's not afraid to make changes."
D'Elia said major college sports, like Penn State football, must operate more like professional sports businesses and should be sold forcefully to recruits and to younger fans. He said Penn State must hire "professionals that can manage the image, promote its brand, market its content and recruit its personnel."
Got that, everyone? A Pittsburgh consultant is pushing aggressive change. Too bad he's doing it in State College.