I had taken a hiatus from writing on here because let’s face it, there hasn’t been anything good to write about. I won’t celebrate Dave Brandon leaving the University of Michigan because that’s asking for bad karma. That being said, this is a step in the right direction.
Michigan President Mark Schlissel looked very good in his first major press conference and handled the situation quite well. He has had a storm thrown at him in his first 100 days as President and handled it quite well. Everything that I’ve read about Jim Hackett has been positive. He seems like the type of guy who will be able to help mend some fences between the students, alumni, and fans while helping conduct a search for a new Athletic Director. Hackett played for Bo Schembechler and is also a former CEO, but that doesn’t concern me. You can’t worry about one CEO who did a bad job and then write off all other CEOs as being bad people or people who will do a bad job.
Schlissel said in the press conference that Dave Brandon approached him on Wednesday about resigning and obviously, Schlissel accepted. My feeling is Brandon saw that the end was near and decided to leave on his own accord, rather than continue to be a distraction and then have to suffer the indignation of getting fired. I still think that for whatever problems Dave had, he did truly care about the school.
At the end of the day, the embarrassments and missteps were too much to overcome and ignore.
So what does this mean for Brady Hoke? In my mind, this is the end of Brady Hoke, unofficially of course. I don’t see any way that a new Athletic Director will come in and keep Hoke around after the season he is on pace to have. I still think at this point that 5-7 is the best case scenario, which would mean regression in all four years. Add in the fact that the players aren’t developing and forget it. Reboot and start over, end of story.
Schlissel was asked about some general requirements about the Athletic Director position requirements and this is from The Detroit News:
“The athletic director is a very important position at the university. I will be looking for a person that prioritizes the welfare and the experience of our student-athletes,” Schlissel said, “a person of unquestioned integrity — not just integrity to the level of NCAA rules but integrity to the Michigan way of doing athletics.”
This to me is very encouraging to hear and it sounds like Schlissel has a good feel for what is needed in a new Athletic Director
Who will Michigan target as an Athletic Director, you ask? Let me first start by saying I don’t care whether the new Athletic Director is a “Michigan Man” or not. Everyone is putting far too much emphasis on the new guy having Michigan ties. Would it be nice? Of course, obviously. But it shouldn’t be a necessity. Get the best man for the job, period. That’s how it should always be with every job search.
That being said, some obvious candidates right out of the gate will be Brad Bates, Warde Manuel and Jeff Long. All three of whom have Michigan ties.
Brad Bates is currently the Athletic Director over at Boston College and Warde Manuel is currently the Athletic Director at UConn.
Some background on the two:
Manuel is a graduate of Michigan and played football under Bo Schembechler. Before accepting the UConn athletic director position, Manuel served six years as the athletic director at Buffalo.
Bates was also a part of the Wolverines football program under Schembechler. Bates holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan, and a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt.
Before accepting the athletic director position at Boston College, he spent ten years as the athletic director at Miami (OH) University.
Jeff Long is the Arkansas Athletic Director (had a brief stint at Pitt as AD too) and held various positions in the Athletic Department at Michigan before taking the promotion. He was hired by Bo Schembechler himself, so I’m sure that will have Michigan fans giddy.
If you want some more in-depth analysis on the three, you can read more here from Nick Baumgardner at MLive.
In regards to any other candidates outside of those three, your guess is as good as mine. I personally would prefer Warde Manuel if I’m given the choice. I like what he has done with the hiring over at UConn for football and how he handled Jim Calhoun’s retirement, and Turner Gill was a great coach at Buffalo. On top of that, Manuel managed to increase the UConn athletics budget from $11 million to $25 million. Then again, Bo Schembechler said that Brad Bates would make a good Michigan Athletic Director some day in his book.
At the end of the day, someone new will be a much-welcomed change that will have a very tough task ahead. Mending relationships with fans, students and alumni will not be an easy task, nor will be picking a new head coach. But at this point, Michigan is at rock bottom, it can’t get any worse, right? Right?!?!
Here are some details on Dave Brandon’s buyout:
Some more good news:
Thank god for a $9.47 billion endowment and basketball and hockey season.
Some interesting reading from John U. Bacon:
The Post Game: Dave Brandon ‘Broke’ Michigan Athletics; Now Pressure’s On University President