I did not make this headline up
“Good afternoon everybody, and thank you for coming. This morning I accepted the resignation of Athletic Director David Brandon. Dave feels that it would be in the best interest of our student-athletes, the athletic department, and the University community if he moved on to other challenges and allowed the important work of the department and the University to continue without daily distractions. I agree with this decision.
“I’ve spoken regularly with Dave over the last few weeks and we both want what’s best for Michigan athletics, which is to be able to pursue the highest levels of excellence in all of our programs for our 931 student-athletes, and to advance the strong bond that athletics has helped the University foster with our students, our alumni, and our fans. I believe Dave has always had the best interest of the University of Michigan in his mind and in his heart. He is fiercely dedicated to all of our student-athletes regardless of their sport or background. During his nearly five years as Athletic Director he worked to ensure the well-being and the athletic and academic success with programs and facilities that helped them grow as individuals as well as teammates, and to succeed as students.
“For years Dave’s commitment to Michigan has touched many other parts of the University as well. He co-led the campaign that raised funds for the construction of the new C.S.Mott Children’s Hospital. He and his wife Jan personally donated $2 million for the creation of our neonatal intensive care unit. Dave has also provided support for the arts on campus, student scholarships, and many other academic and educational priorities. He served on the Board of Regents also from 1999-2006. Dave’s first connection to the University of Michigan was as a student-athlete himself when he played football under coach Schembechler and earned his undergraduate degree. There is no doubt that Dave loves the University of Michigan and wants to see us move forward and succeed. I thank him for his long service and life-long commitment to Michigan.
“I’ve appointed Jim Hackett as the Interim Director of Athletics. The interim appointment is effective immediately and will become formal with approval by the Board of Regents at their next meeting. Jim is a highly experienced and respected business leader, a man of integrity, and a devoted member of the Michigan community. He was a student-athlete and graduated from the U of M in 1977. In 1994 to 2013 he served as Chief Executive Officer of Steelcase Incorporated, the office furniture company based in Grand Rapids. He led the company in their transition from traditional manufacturing to an innovate global company and now brings that success and experience in heading a complex organization into his interim role here. I’m also very pleased with his interpersonal skills, his value system, and his long-standing commitment to serving the University. Jim is currently on the Board of Trustees at Northwestern Mutual Life and on the Boards of Directors at Ford Motor Company and Fifth Third Bancorp. Perhaps most importantly he serves on the Board of Advisors at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and Life Sciences Institute.
“I am confident Jim will immediately begin the process of moving the department forward, including working closely with me to develop a plan to identify and recruit Michigan's next permanent athletic director.
“To our alumni and others in the Michigan family, I want you to know that we are working to establish the right balance between academics, the competitiveness of our athletic programs, the financial stability and the athletic traditions that we hold dear. To our students and student-athletes, I want you to know that the University of Michigan is behind you always. To our fans, I want you to know that we value your input, your support, and your spirit. Recent events have only reinforced my belief that it is important to listen and to engage in dialogue with all of our stakeholders.
“It is clear that Michigan athletics helps unite us as a community. It has an enormous reach that I've seen firsthand and the connections it fosters are deeply personal. These connections cross state and national borders, they spans decades, and they're shared across generations. The force that has this amazing power to join us together, the connective tissue if you will, is the heartstrings of the Michigan faithful.
“At a recent fireside chat with students, a student in the crowd further illustrated this point for me. She had lived in a major city in another state, but she could always count on hearing “Go Blue” when she walks down the street wearing her Michigan sweatshirt on a Saturday in the fall. Those moments, those uniquely Michigan moments, take place because of our unique sense of community. Before I turn things over to Jim I invite everyone in our community to help us as we begin a new chapter in the history of Michigan athletics. I hope we can join together as we move forward to preserve and enhance the qualities that make us truly special for the ultimate benefit of Michigan athletics, our students, and our great university. Thank you all very much and ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to introduce Jim Hackett.”
[More after THE JUMP]
Interim AD Jim Hackett speaks as President Mark Schlissel looks on. [Anbender/MGoBlog]
"This morning I accepted the resignation of athletic director David Brandon."
Adam will have the full—and lengthy—transcript of today's press conference up later, but U-M President Mark Schlissel's opening statement obviously contained the most important part. Brandon met with Schlissel on Wednesday to discuss his resignation, saying he thought it would be best for the student-athletes and the university if he stepped down; Schlissel agreed, saying it was best for the department to continue "without daily distractions."
Jim Hackett, incidentally a former M teammate of Brandon's, will take over as the interim athletic director effective immediately. Hackett served as the CEO of Steelcase from 1994 until February of this year; he currently sits on the Board of Advisors for both the School of Public Policy and the Life Sciences Institute.
The search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately; in the meantime, Schlissel made it clear that Hackett has the power to run the athletic department as he sees fit, including evaluating the football coaches, especially if a replacement isn't in place at the end of the season. Hackett mentioned Bo Schembechler and Gerald Ford as personal heroes of his, saying "both would be quite certain the future of Michigan is not in doubt."
When asked if he would be looking for a candidate with Michigan connections to permanently replace Brandon, Schlissel said that he simply wants "the best man for the job," adding that he'll take as long as necessary to find the right person. "I have excellence in mind," he said.
Terms of Brandon's resignation will be released later today, according to Schlissel.
UPDATE: The terms of Brandon's resignation have been released. Full PDF file is here; the short version:
- Brandon will receive $3 million over the next four years.
- Michigan has the right to reduce his compensation should he take another job.
- The University will pay the cost of COBRA for Brandon and his dependents' health benefits through June 30, 2015.
- Brandon will retain two "Regents Emeritus" seats for football, men's basketball, and hockey.
- Brandon retains the use of two company cars through the end of the year.
The rest is mostly legalese; here's the fun part of said legalese:
It might be happening, and soon. Chatter has picked up after the most recent last straw. Today I've gotten two reports that Brandon is resigning in… a couple hours(!). One comes second-hand from within the department, the other second-hand from the regents*. Premium sites seem to have the same chatter.
Prior to what seems like a major shift today but after the most recent last straw I had heard that the next bye week (ie, after Northwestern) was a point at which something might happen, with another independent report from within the department asserting that knives were being sharpened, and a report from one of the events being held in the run up to the regents' election that he was done in a couple weeks.
The the emails supposedly blunted a lot of pushback Brandon's supporters were trying to muster. While you should keep in mind that someone who would relate this to me might be inclined to believe such a thing, John Borton is… uh… not so inclined, and he asserted that white flags are being waved($) inside the department. Sorry if that sounds like self-tootin'. Nobody likes a self-tooter.
*[Note: I endorsed Mike Behm. I should clarify that none of this comes from him or his camp.]
I am told by several sources there will be a 1:30 press conference at UM involving the president to discuss AD Dave Brandon
— angelique (@chengelis) October 31, 2014
Dave Brandon is resigning as Michigan’s AD, source told @ESPN. Press conference this afternoon
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 31, 2014
[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]
continuing this week's theme
The response. Brandon on the emails:
"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. … I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."
Would you describe this award as… major?
Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:
I've had multiple conversations with Dave Brandon. He has talked about @mgoblog before. So...yeah.
— Michael Proppe (@mikeproppe) October 29, 2014
Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:
"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."
It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:
"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."
"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."
"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."
The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:
Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.
Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.
This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?
This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?
Ripped from the headlines.
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.
It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:
In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.
Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.
I… I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.
I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.
Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.
Well, at least I…
By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.
To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.
Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.
THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.
Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.
A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.
Quite an artifact.
[HT: SBN CH]
You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…
John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.
[ED: Hey guys! Ace is looking for a few good questions for a basketball season preview mailbag. Hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Meta-response about yesterday's post.
[ED: I normally hack out praise from these emails in an effort to be as concise as possible but it was not possible to do so here without making bronx sound like a jerk.]
I've been trying to think of a better way to ask this, but I can't so I'll just come out with it:
What is/was your goal with reporting about the Brandon emails?
Man, yeah, that comes across as condescending. Let me try to explain.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given their due. and I respect the hell out of you and Ace putting in the effort to figure out their veracity; count me in the camp of people who doubted WD's initial post due to the inconsistencies in his story. Following through on the story and backing it up with multiple sources is the type of reporting you don't expect to see from a "fan" site, and yet you guys did better work than I've seen in a long time from more established media members in the community. Heck, it's basically you guys and the Daily kicking ass in that department.
But once the dust settles, how do you see this information positively or negatively affecting the program going forward? I've made my feelings known about Brandon and how, frankly, this really shouldn't accelerate his removal (I mean, if his handling of Gibbons, Morris, ticket prices, attendance, stadium experience, alumni relations, coaching snafus, losing, etc. doesn't do him in but bitchy emails do I'll be a bit disappointed in the administration for needing something so trivial to move them to action), but I honestly want to know your take. Do you think the fan's role in the turmoil surrounding the program, now being given a wider public forum by your site than in the past, will ultimately hurt its recovery going forward?
For example, you mentioned in your podcast that fans' habits can be broken quickly and it can take a generation to get them back. You and Ace seem to think that Brandon and Hoke coming back would lead to an exodus, but are you worried that the level of vitriol displayed by the fans already shows the pivot point already happened, and that everything from this point on is just piling on and driving even more fans away? Personally, I'm less and less excited to follow this team even this year because it is just a clown show made worse by the negative tone so many fans seem to hold toward it. My Facebook feed is full of people linking to articles calling for Hoke an co. to be booted (many to mgoblog), and lots of them were moderately-sane fans before the last couple of years. I'm not saying you and the site are to blame for any of it; you are just reporting and commenting on the shit show being trotted out every week. But do you think we'll look back in a couple of years and wonder if too much gas was thrown on the fire?
And again, I'm conflicted even asking this, because you guys have a duty to ferret out these idiots and bring them to the public's eye, and you do a great job at capturing the Michigan zeitgeist effectively. But there's just such a toxic culture around the program, and I wonder even if they get some homerun hires (which I'm a bit dubious about), if some of this damage will linger.
Anyway, feel free to respond however you want; if part of this makes its way into a mailbag or something then by all means out me and respond how you wish. I'm fine with it. I honestly just want to know.
I made a decision to let the original Have A Happy Life email stand—in fact I made a decision to re-instate it after one of the mods pulled it 200 comments deep—and from there things proceeded inexorably to yesterday's post.
I let it stand because I thought it was true.
[After THE JUMP: a full run-down of the decision to run with this story and evaluation about whether this was in error.]
IT HAS BEGUN. Oh hell yes, we're already on FlightAware. Various people have pointed out that this plane went to a place two hours away from San Francisco and has done this several times over the last few months. Also they point out that Mississippi is not Tennessee. To them I say your petty "logic" and seeming "sanity" cannot stand in the way of an internet full of ludicrous hope.
God save this country if it ever can. FlightAware: love it or leave it. We have a song.
[Even though I'm pretty sure 95% of people who got on the Flight Aware bandwagon were joking: this particular flight has been thoroughly debunked by Sam Webb, who points out that's an alum's plane and he's got auto dealerships in the cities he flies to. This did not stop it from being on Around The Horn, because they got yammerin' to do.
Coaching search plane is not going to have a block M on it, I bet.]
ON HARBAUGH, AGAIN. Previous chatter here was an opinion from someone in the 49ers organization that Harbaugh was coming to the conclusion he might fit better in college long-term. I have a couple more infobits.
One is from the Michigan/AA side of things and indicates that he would be open to a return in the event of an AD change.
The second is intel from guys who work for another NFL franchise: it's well-known in the league that Harbaugh and the 49ers GM don't get along and that Harbaugh's relentless intensity wears on NFL players who expect to be treated like adults. This is not something you haven't heard from a half-dozen NFL reporters already.
These guys think Harbaugh will end up at Michigan, though, so that's interesting.
ON THE AD CHANGE. Support for Brandon at the regent level breaks down along party lines. I can't believe that would really matter—and of course in my opinion the only problem there is that anyone would support a man so toxic that he can cut student ticket prices 40% and still get bombarded with calls for his firing this weekend.
There are yet further suggestions that Brandon is fighting a rearguard action he's not likely to win.
Ross's about-face on Brandon is meaningful because Stephen Ross can always say nothing; if he doesn't return a phone call there is no article.
I can say that there are people in the department who think it's done, Brandon's out, and that this could become official by mid-November. Current chatter holds that one of the obvious Michigan-connected guys will be the pick as replacement, but I'd expect that would be the case until a serious search committee is formed and either includes or does not include potentially interesting non-M options.
ON HEELS AND THE DIGGING IN THEREOF. Brandon is going to go down swinging. They called another meeting, this one a mandatory one for all head coaches, about a week ago. A second-hand report from that meeting says after an apology about how it's not all about him, the upshot was the criticism was all "politically driven" and that the Board of Regents was after him because he's a Republican and there are upcoming elections. After that everything would die down.
Further, expect another letter of support organized by the department for the benefit of said regents. The email circulated to get this going indicates the level of organization here:
We wanted to keep this grassroots -- as it feels important to do so with the message of the letter. We did have a member of the leadership team and media relations take a look just to make sure there were no red flags.
You keep using that word, "grassroots." In any case, "employee publicly supports employer who hired them at high salary" is not news.
That should come out today or in the near future.
UT Rivals board as of late yesterday.
ON BUTCH JONES. The Tennessee rivals board blew up yesterday with speculation after one of their moderators confirmed that the ever-nebulous "representatives" had been in contact with Jones. That can mean anything at all, obviously.
Tennessee folks on twitter got the requisite denial-ish substance…
Butch Jones via @GoVols247: "I may have been born in Michigan, but I am from Tennessee. When you're a Vol you're a Vol For Life"
— Teran Johnson (@TeranJ_WUTK) October 28, 2014
"It's not even worth discussing," Jones said of the rumors. "No validity to it.
"I'm not going to waste your time or my time commenting on that."
I wouldn't put it at 0.00%, but things would have to go in some funny directions for Michigan to hire Jones after two years trying to rebuild the cratered Tennessee program without much to show for it.
I'd keep him on peripheral radar only.
Sources close to Miles indicate that given the Tigers talent level that they don't "think" Miles would entertain a return to his alma mater at this time.
Not much to go on there. I don't expect Michigan pursues Miles for a number of reasons, but impossible to say anything certain until we know which guy is running the search.
OTHER FOLKS' CHATTER. Steve Lorenz has a post up in which he suggests it's Boston College's Brad Bates who has his nose ahead($) in the still-hypothetical race to be the next AD, amongst various other interesting things. His read on the Harbaugh thing seem to be in harmony with my take: don't rule it out, don't assume it's happening.
An old-timey insider popped up on Rivals after a long, long hiatus when people cried out for his wisdom($). Verily, GFunk did descend from the mountain and say unto them that wheels were turning, there was probably a change in AD coming, and that if he had to guess at this point it would be Bates and Harbaugh.
Sam Webb posted a freebie with some encouraging items about Michigan moving up its timeline:
…there are high ranking donors that have voiced their feelings to Schlissel during meetings over the last few months. Now comes word that some donors are planning to speak with their checkbooks.
“(Schlissel) has been told that not another penny will be given until this is resolved,” a source told GoBlueWolverine on the condition of anonymity.
Exactly how many donors have delivered that message is unclear, but any impact outside of athletics will clearly be magnified. Especially since Michigan is in the midst of its “Victors for Michigan campaign” to raise 4 billion dollars to finance "student support, engaged learning, and bold ideas.” …
Before this latest barrage of negative feedback about Brandon the odds of the evaluation process lasting at least a month longer appeared pretty high. Now, especially with Ross’ announcement that he won’t serve as Brandon’s buffer, the opportunity for the timeline to be expedited is apparent.
Sam also adds a non-Michigan name to the pile of guys for next AD: Arizona AD Greg Byrne. Yes, the man who hired Rich Rodriguez. Byrne also hired Dan Mullen during his tenure as Mississippi State's AD from 2008-10.