Updated. The depth chart by class has been updated. Let me know if there are errors. I believe Brandin Hawthorne is gunning for a medical redshirt and that Nick Sheridan is going the GA route this year. I put Baquer Sayed on it since he seems like he has a chance to contribute. By my count, Michigan has 13 to give right now, so a class of 18 or so is probably in the cards next year.
Jalen winners. The four winners of signed Jalen Rose t-shirts: Lauren Leb, Brandon Cox, Nathan McFeters, and Brooks Dunn. Congrats. As a bonus, Jalen roped in Jimmy King so your shirts have bonus signatures.
This happened, technically. There was a meeting about the NCAA thing:
The University of Michigan Board of Regents discussed the NCAA investigation into the football program on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the session confirmed the probe was part of the discussion. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the school is not disclosing any details of what it calls an informal meeting.
Really? Fascinating. Details?
The person did not discuss any details with the AP.
Outstanding. Obviously, if I hear anything that qualifies as information I will relay it.
Antonio Bass, in repose. Outstanding article in the Daily on Antonio Bass, a man with cojones:
Late that night, Carr’s phone rang.
“Coach, I just wanted to tell you,” Bass said in a slow, deliberate voice. “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to Michigan State.”
Bass today says he could feel Carr’s normally warm, welcoming personality, the one Carr reserved for all his players, stiffening up. His voice became cold, formal.
“Well, Antonio, I wish you luck up there,” Carr said.
Silence. Bass held in a chuckle as long as he could before blurting out, “Nah, coach, I’m just playing. I’m ready to be a Wolverine.”
If deadly silences could kill, eh? Bass is walking in May with a communications degree.
CONEOFF. The Coner has graduated, but there must be another goofy fan favorite backup quarterback who pwns Michigan's I-AA opponent. Candidate #1 is obvious: Conelius Jones. His name is Cone from the future.
Candidate #2 has the flow, though, and support from spectacularly named walk-on Ohene Opong-Owusu. Here's Jack Kennedy:
It's… kind of good. Isn't it? I mean, given your expectations going in it vastly exceeded them, right?
In the Times. Two(!) relevant items, one of them with a big honking picture of Michigan's new athletic director and quotes from Mary Sue Coleman. It, unsurprisingly, is a trend piece on athletic departments hiring corporate CEOs:
“That business experience is almost essential,” said Mary Sue Coleman, the Michigan president, who said she also hired Brandon because he had strong ties to the university, having played football for the Wolverines and served as a university regent.
Still, she said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a successful athletic director these days that doesn’t have a deep understanding and skills for the financial side of an athletic department.”
The other is an analysis of the possible ripple effects from Big Ten expansion. OSU's president is the guy most heavily quoted. This is the most disturbing quote:
“I do think the Big Ten holds a key, maybe the key, in terms of what is going to be the next phase of college athletics,” Ohio State’s Gee said. “We need to explore this carefully. The law of unintended consequences applies most specifically to college athletics.”
I hope that this does not imply one of those super conference things that ends up with 30-team Big Ten facing off with 30-team SEC.
(Brandon HT: The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)
In the year 2000. Mike Hart's ambition remains the same:
Hart has been through a lot in his first two NFL seasons, from a torn ACL as a rookie last year to being waived and re-signed by the Colts twice this season. And he admits he contemplated calling it a career last fall and getting started on "my real life."
And just what might that be?
"I want to coach," Hart said. "And hopefully I'll be the head coach at Michigan one day. That's my goal."
"No joke," Hart said, smiling. "That's ultimately what I want to do. I love Michigan. That's a big part of me."
When Fred Jackson retires (in four years?), every Michigan fan on the planet will want one guy. No matter if it makes any sense, which it might not.
That article also contains a by now standard response to the standard "so… Rich Rodriguez?" question posed all former Michigan football players kicking around the NFL: I support Rodriguez, but he has to win.
Is there a space ray of some variety that explains this? Mark my words: sometime in the next couple years Jim Tressel will be revealed as a Bond villain whose nefarious plot was to create and deploy some sort of negative PR black hole in Ann Arbor.
Unlike all other Bond villains, his plan has been wildly successful. It took freshly minted Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon two days to land a tiny cameo on the Colbert Report in the midst of a segment on Domino's ballsy decision to admit that their core product is terrible:
Getting hired as Michigan AD opens the floodgates. By this time next week Brandon will see a real estate deal go sour, various critical members of the athletic department leave for Arkansas, and a pack of velociraptors with digital recorders tear his tasty flesh into long, delicious strips.
Mmmm. Athletic director velociraptor horror bacon.
At least Brandon is well versed in admitting that the core product is a shambolic mess and taking steps towards actual pizza, be it in food or bowl game varieties.
Yes. This is happening.
Time to call Charles Atlas. Yesterday on the Sporting Blog I pointed out that the Big Ten's bowl performance was somewhere between good and outstanding, depending on whether you want to take peripherals like yards into account, and asked anyone else who writes about college football to notice. Whether they will is yet to be seen.
In the course of it I linked to Rutgers blog Bleed Scarlet's sarcastic reaction to the Big Ten expansion hoopla in an effort to prove just how much crap the Big Ten has been fielding since Ohio State faceplanted against Florida three years ago. When a team whose main accomplishment in the 141 years since it played in the first college football game has been not ceasing to exist is talking smack, you have an image problem that goes beyond rational discussion.
And indeed, Bleed Scarlet notes the post and responds with one of its own that ends like so:
Even if Michigan ever does improve to the point that Big Ten football isn’t a national punchline, the conference as a whole can never fairly receive enough ridicule and disrespect.
What the hell? BS's main complaint appears to be that more people watch Big Ten football even if it's Illinois-Purdue (which was on ESPN) instead of USF-Pitt (which was exiled to Somalia), as if this was a choice ESPN had instead of a long-term contract the Big Ten earned by virtue of having teams people like to watch on television. I mean:
That’s why it’s so maddening that even today, Brian celebrates that the Big Ten is on equal financial footing with the SEC – how is that warranted at all on the merits?
What merits? The Big Ten earns a lot of money because they have a ton of alumni, a culture in which football is important, and a history of success that doesn't evaporate because the conference has struggled through some tough years. Nobody votes except with their dollars and eyes. This isn't a democracy. We're not having a recount. Whine about a lack of Big East respect all you want when it comes to automatic BCS bids—not that the Big Ten has ever spit out the dreck the Big East has with its automatic qualifier—but complaining that it's not fair when it comes to money makes you sound like a fake nihilist with a nine-toed woman.
The Big Ten's recent poor run in the bowls have to do with six letters: USC, which the Big Ten has had to play just about every year since the Trojans can't be bothered against one Pac-10 opponent per season, and BCS, which has dragged more Big Ten runners-up into the big time than any other conference and set up unfavorable matchups down the chain. A few years ago 9-3 Texas played a 6-6 Iowa outfit that had gone 2-6 in conference. Texas won by 3, and somehow the Big Ten's reputation took a hit.
A name to ignore. Probably. I don't think this qualifies as actual information about the mysterious assistant coach opening for reasons that will be bolded. It's an article about Marshall's open defensive coordinator spot:
Is it Chuck Heater?
The University of Florida defensive coach seems like a longshot. Yes, he is the father-in-law of new Marshall defensive line coach Rich Cronin, but this is business.
That's why Heater reportedly is interested in Michigan's vacant defensive coordinator job. ... and vice-versa. Besides that, there still are rumbles about the possibility of Heater staying with the Gators as co-defensive coordinator.
Michigan, obviously, does not have a vacant defensive coordinator job. And since Heater is the "assistant defensive coordinator" on a staff that just lost its defensive coordinator, chances are he's in line for a promotion at a school that isn't Marshall or a poor season or two away from a coaching change. Heater has no history with Rodriguez or Greg Robinson—he's bounced around a lot but never to a spot where either happened to be—and wouldn't be getting a promotion at Michigan. At best he could be the assistant defensive coordinator. The only way this happens is if Meyer brings in a new DC who sweeps out some or all of the existing folk in favor of his own guys.
Harumph. This was covered somewhat in the recruiting post yesterday but a follow-up from me: six players, all on offense, enrolled early but safety Marvin Robinson and quarterback Devin Gardner did not. That's unfortunate because if you asked me to pick the two guys I wanted in early most, I would have picked Robinson and Gardner. I'm still hoping that Gardner can find a way to redshirt this fall—this news definitely increases the chances of that—but if Forcier gets injured, having a slightly more experienced Gardner could be the difference between Rich Rodriguez taking root and getting swept out the door.
That's still less likely to have an impact than Robinson's absence. Robinson is either a safety or an OLB (or "spinner"; from now on I'm just calling the two non-spinners MLBs and the spinner and OLB) and would obviously have been in contention for a starting job somewhere if he enrolled.
Still, it is good to have both Stephen Hopkins and Austin White in early; with the seniors out the door and presumed starter Vincent Smith laid up with an ACL tear that may last into the fall, those two, Mike Shaw, Mike Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint will go to war to be 1B to Smith's probable 1A.
Boo, but in a yay way. Hockey picked up a big commit for 2012 in forward Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, who the Hockey News interviewed about a month ago. He was the top player at the USA Select 15s and, FWIW, a guy on Hockey's Future relays that one of the OHL draft scouting services ranks him in the top ten. Apparently he has no interest in that route. That can change, obviously. Please allow me to go weep about Jack Campbell over here.
Tim sat in on the call this morning and scribbled a bunch of notes that I turned into something more readable; what follows is a paraphrase faithful on intent but probably somewhat heavy on sentences that start with "I". That is an artifact of our amateur process and not a reflection of megalomania.
Brandon right; some guy from Findlay winning a "gold Frannie" left.
Why leave Dominos?
I loved my job there, and the company is doing great. It takes a special opportunity to leave 11-year job. I would only leave for a couple jobs in the world, this is one of them. I love Michigan, loved it as student-athete and have been connected ever since. I was a member of regents for 8 years, which was a labor of love. I know the place
Athletics plays an important role in Michigan's profile. It creates excitement, loyalty, connection. I got an e-mail from someone in Istanbul today. Within an hour of release, people in Turkey are talking about the athletic director at Michigan.
How does your background as a CEO work for your new job?
I'm more than a pizza man, I'm a CEO. I've been in the business world 35 years, a university regent for eight years, and been in involved in other governing bodies. I've been a been a student-athlete, donor, and fundraiser at Michigan. I know the talents of athletic department from my connections. I haven't lived a career in athletics specifically, but I bring set of qualifications, interests, and experiences that will help him succeed. I 'm Fortunate to be the one chosen.
What did you learn from Bo?
My second degree from Michigan was from the Bo School of Leadership. One advantage of not playing is that you can observe and learn. Learned how to select talent from Bo. His assistants went on to be head coaches. He was surrounded with terrific people, recruited athletes on skills and ability, but also character and integrity. Bo taught how to set high expectations/goals. He taught preparation, competing at highest level, intensity. Those lessons translated to my career as a business leader and will come with me as athletic director.
Why are you forgoing public office? Is it on the backburner?
I'm the athletic director at the university of Michigan. I committed for a minimum of 5 years, and hope to get that extended. It's flattering that people think I can serve the public good. I care about positively impacting lives.
I can do that in public office, but I know I can do it as Michigan's athletic director as well. Athletics changed my life, and athletes at Michigan are experiencing that now. I have three Big Ten champioinship rings and wear them proudly. I appreciate people think I can do other things, but this is what I want to do.
What is your feeling on Rich Rodriguez's job security?
He's the coach at UM. He has an awesome responsibility, a proven track record. I have great respect for Rich. I hope to know him better and get a chance to work with him.
Can you comment on the NCAA investigation?
I can't comment on an ongoing investigation, and wouldn't if I could. I'll get briefings when the university knows more about it. Doesn't mind being put in the middle, he'll worry about doing the right thing, like Michigan always does. If we'd made mistakes, we'll correct them. We'll deal as we need to.
How is your relationship with Rich Rodriguez?
We've spent a little time together, had dinner a couple times. We're acquainted in social way. We've chatted briefly on sidelines and at one practice a couple years ago. Though we haven't had time together, I hope to get to know Rich better. He looks forward to turning the program around and being where we all want to be.
Do you have any plans for changes in the department?
I'll listen and learn first. I don't have a a prearranged agenda. I'll meet and assess the team and organizational design. Why are we doing things this way? I'll come in with a new set of eyes and without hard-fixed ideas. I can come in, ask questions, and challenge status quo, come up with some unique things.
Listen, learn, asses, then change things when we're prepared. Is the right talent in place in the right spots? We'll make goals at that time.
How are you relationships with the Regents?
Unique, because I served with some as a colleague. I worked with some for eight years. Mary Sue Coleman contacted them last night, and some got in touch with me after. I am most appreciative that I got the opportunity. I still know the ones I didn't serve with due to my role as a regent emeritus. I knows what their job is about because I've done it.
What are your plans for Crisler?
Big plans underway to put expansion and practice facilities in place. Long overdue. Other considerations underway for doing things in arena, updating and making more competitive. Team and fans deserve that consideration.
Do you have Don Canham's vision?
I was just 18 when i met him. He was bold, innovative, willing to take measured risks. I admired his skills, I'll emulate some. I'm not him or Bo, I'll do me. I'll work hard to achieve what I can as AD.
How is your relationship with Mary Sue Coleman?
She approached and gauged interest, I said yes. I was in pool of candidates, vetted carefully. I'm the one she selected and I'm appreciative of that.
[Now starts a series of questions about factions that
What's your take on factions in the athletic department? Will you seek to remove conflict?
Yes. I'm a team sport guy. Brought up that way, and believes in it. Factions are counterproductive. Needs to be fixed immediately, won't be tolerated.
How do you cure factions, reel in anti-Rodriguez guys?
I'm leaving a job in which I had to get 1200 franchisees on the same page, and accept the plans I initiated. If I can pull that off, I can pull together 275 [athletic department employees] using some of the same techniques. It takes vision. You need to surround yourself with people who share that and your values. You hold people accountable. Every business I've led has been #1 in its industry. I don't know any other way. I want the athletic department to be number 1 in the nation. Talent, accomplishment, all the ways success can be measured. You surround yourself with people who will bring work ethic to achieve that.
Will playing under Bo brings factions together?
I was proud to play for Bo, but my initial recruiting was under Bump, and I would have been proud to play for him. I was proud to have Mo as a position coach, would have been as a head coach. I would be proud under Carr, under Rodriguez. Anyone who wears that winged helmet, or runs through that tunnel, I support.
Are you a quintessential Michigan Man?
Not quintessential anything, but I understand what it means to be Michigan Man. I understand traditions and role in the community, and that will be an asset in the job.
How important is it coming back to M?
It's huge. It's huge.
What was the hiring timetable?
I was contacted several weeks ago by search firm hired by Coleman and asked whether he'd be interested in interviewing. I said yes and submitted a letter of interest. I made it very clear that the process had to remain confidential, as sitting CEO of a public company. I was interested in pursuing opportunity, but had to maintain interests in Dominos. The private process culminated in meeting with Coleman and the search committee for several hours. I told my story and explained why I was going to be the right choice for the job.
What will you do in terms of branding?
I understand brand management. Brands, promotion, and marketing has been my background. I understand innovation and how to build a brand, how to bring innovation and freshness to a brand. But being inconsistent with brand can undermine it.
[Editor's note: I choose to interpret this as a desire to put Special K, piped-in music droid, in a catapult calibrated to provide him a soft landing in a war-torn former Soviet republic.]
As a football observer what is your level of concern with the program?
I am as concerned as everybody. The program likes and needs to win. We sing about being champions, the leaders and best. We want that to be true. Nobody wants that more than Rodriguez.
What are the business ramifications? How does the departure impact Dominos?
I am proud of many things at Dominos, including succession planning. My role includes active involvement at the board level. My successor at Dominos has been there longer than me, has gone through every unit of the company, president for past 3 years, completes the loop and is prepared to succeed me seamlessly. Interest of shareholders will be protected. I'm an investor, will continue to serve on board of directors.
How can the athletic department affect the university?
There are so many components. It has a 90 million dollar budget. It has a huge impact on the Michigan brand. It's somewhat of a selling organization for the entire university. When we won the NC, admissions to school were up 22%. The athletic department propagates what the university is all about. The university competes at the highest level in all aspects.
As suggested by this and every other site that ventured to offer an opinion about who Michigan's next athletic director would be, the new head man is current (and soon to be former) Domino's CEO Dave Brandon. Angelique Chengelis has the scoop:
Dave Brandon, the chairman and CEO of Domino's Pizza and a former Michigan football player and university Regent, has agreed to a five-year contract to become Michigan's new athletic director and is expected to be introduced to the department staff Tuesday morning, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Brandon, 57, has deep ties to the university and also to Michigan business and politics and has long been considered the front-runner to replace athletic director Bill Martin.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new guy:
It's late so no full analysis right now other than "nice hair." Between Brandon and Greg Robinson, we've got a regular Just For Men commercial going on over here. Daddy, you should really start dating again.
Something to address the foremost question in your mind—"what does this mean for Rich Rodriguez?"—is appropriate, however. When a couple of tipsters indicated that Brandon was a more likely candidate than I suggested in my first stab at the candidate list I related the tipster's take on Brandon's opinion of the head coach:
The tinfoil-hat wing of the internet that's suggested Brandon is a part of the shadowy anti-RR cabal hypothetically headed by Lloyd Carr could not be more wrong. Brandon was a key supporter of Rodriguez's candidacy. He and RR have dinner regularly. 3-9 engenders some frustration, but one of the items cited was Rodriguez getting "too friendly with the media".
This is not someone who has anything but the program's best interests in mind.
At the point I posted that no one else was suggesting that Brandon was a clear front-runner and most assumed, as I had, that Brandon's other desires would preclude a serious run at the job: the likelihood the above is quality information is very high. Brandon will give Rodriguez a fair shake at turning things around.
A quick take: Brandon is a default, safe choice. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise to an outsider, but Michigan fans will take the safe choice 100 times out of 100 at the moment. He was a regent. He's worked with Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman on the stadium renovations. He's a serious business-type person who should continue Bill Martin's legacy of financial stability, and he was a walk-on on the football team so he could better about the stadium atmosphere issues—in all revenue sports—I've expressed some discontent about.
There are some differences between running a major corporation and a major athletic department but there are just as many differences between running Oregon State or Arkansas and running Michigan; I'm perfectly content with the hire. This won't be another Goss. The only downside I can see is that Brandon's familiarity with the people in the department might make him loathe to clean out a bunch of people who have committed error after error—Marcus Witherspoon, practice log fiascoes, compliance issues, possibly Adrian Witty—in the last couple years.
Hello Dave Brandon?
OH SNAP FUTURE AD (POSSIBLY)
In the initial post on the topic, I lumped Dave Brandon in with a few folks who had been mentioned for the job but weren't likely to be strong candidates for one reason or another. Brandon's reason: his political aspirations. If the guy is going to run for governor or the Senate or something, he can't be Michigan's AD.
Since then I've acquired the following pieces of information from a source close to the situation, as they say:
- His political aspirations are real but have been put on the backburner because the state GOP doesn't want him to run for governor.
- Assuming politics are out of the equation—not 100%, but likely—Brandon would jump at the job.
- Brandon worked very closely with both Martin and Coleman on the stadium renovations and during the football coaching search. He's a known quantity in the AD and a guy the people at the top of the pyramid are comfortable with.
- The tinfoil-hat wing of the internet that's suggested Brandon is a part of the shadowy anti-RR cabal hypothetically headed by Lloyd Carr could not be more wrong. Brandon was a key supporter of Rodriguez's candidacy. He and RR have dinner regularly. 3-9 engenders some frustration, but one of the items cited was Rodriguez getting "too friendly with the media".
This is not someone who has anything but the program's best interests in mind. Brandon would represent an RR faction* win.
If Brandon wants the job I'm betting he's the front-runner. While the two BCS ADs have more direct experience running a department, Brandon is more familiar with the main folks at Michigan. He's been a regent and a CEO of a major corporation; he's worked with Martin on important projects within the department. And he was a walk-on at Michigan. Contrary to the previous post, I think Brandon is the most likely choice until I hear specific contradictory information.
PRE-CLARIFICATION: None of this information comes from the Michigan side of things; I don't know what they're thinking. I'm thinking I know what they're thinking.
*(Assuming that there is any actual anti-RR faction within the athletic department.)
On De Carolis And Long
So there are some complicating factors with the guy who seems like an easy #1 choice. A couple tipsters indicated that his departure from the Michigan athletic department was less than amicable. A former Daily writer explains:
I had a chance to interview Don Canham in 1991 when I was on the staff at the Michigan Daily. He was quite pissed with Bob DeCarolis then about quotes DeCarolis had given which showed up in a book by Murray Sperber on college athletics about how Canham put the athletic department in the red in having the Canham Natatorium built. DeCarolis thought it was a money-wasting project to feed Canham's ego. Doubt that would be held against him given that he stayed in the athletic department until 1996 and it wasn't like he pissed on Bo's grave as Harbaugh essentially did when he said he was steered into Mickey Mouse classes while playing football at Michigan. But, from what I just read in The Wolverine that feud with Canham is certainly not a distant memory.
Same guy also had some interaction with Jeff Long:
I think Jeff Long was probably the athletic department's first "Director of Football Operations." (akin to the position Scott Draper has today). Probably the job was essentially created after Long's GA tenure expired but he was liked by Bo and his staff to keep him around. He obviously made the most of the opportunity given where he is today. As student managers, our orders and assignments mainly came from Jeff Long and Jon Falk. Overall, Long was a decent, hard-working, straightforward guy back then who was easy to deal with and didn't have any hidden agendas.
If folks are over the Sperber incident from almost 20 years ago and De Carolis gets offered the job, he'll likely take the job. He's frustrated with Oregon State's inability to fill its 45k stadium:
"There's still uncertainty," De Carolis said Wednesday, expressing frustration in particular over attendance at football games, "no doubt about it. The free fall has stopped but I think it's going to be a challenge."
De Carolis did not intend to call out Oregon State fans, but he came very close when discussing the school's inability to fill 45,674-seat Reser Stadium.
"I've never seen a state like this, where it's one or the other, you're a Duck or you're a Beaver," De Carolis said. "Well, if (OSU alumni) are so proud of that, why is it so hard to keep this thing going? We have a hell of a football product -- a hell of a football product -- and we can't sell out the stadium?"
"Where are all the Beaver fans?"
The same Oregon-based reader who sent that link also mentions that local sports talk radio has discussed the possibility and they think an offer means De Carolis is gone.
On MAC Folk
At this point I'm pretty sure the two guys in the MAC are going to have to wait.