Coach And AD Chatter Part II

Submitted by Brian on October 29th, 2014 at 10:14 AM


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.

Yes, seriously.

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…

…and former Vol WR Jayson Swain asserted there's a 0% chance it happens. Also:

"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.

ON LES MILES. Some of the Jones chatter is undoubtedly coming from a 247 post from their national guys that reads like mostly speculation, but it did have a sourced tidbit on Miles:

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.



October 29th, 2014 at 10:24 AM ^

Jesus, I cannot freaking believe Brandon is trying to make this seem like a political witch hunt.  Do the head coaches actually believe this?  Does Schlissel know about the backroom vieled threats to the coaches basically saying 'you better support me and make it look genuine or else...'?  That man needs to GTFO now.

Also, UT can keep Butch Jones.  For now at least. 

Bando Calrissian

October 29th, 2014 at 10:26 AM ^

Not just that, but that he's trying to rope in support from his employees under the guise that it's all political.

But can we really be that surprised? The entire message of the DB Athletic Department has been tone-deaf expressions of "we know what's really going on, and you don't." And it's almost always completely delusional. I think he really thinks this is all about losing football games and those pesky kids with their constant need for wifi.


October 29th, 2014 at 10:56 AM ^

The more we hear about Brandon's operations with respect to the athletic department and alumni and fans, the more he reminds me of the owner of the Redskins.  When he was trying to get his purchase of the team approved, he was incredibly nice to all of the team's exisiing employees, providing assurance that nothing would change.  As soon as the sale was approved, he fired almost everyone, including secretaries nearing retirement who had been with the team for over 30 years.  He also started charging people to park to see the team at training camp, hiring high school kids to collect parking fees but stopping his limo, publicly berating one kid who "failed" to recognize his limo and firing him on the spot.

Brandon sounds like the same kind of egomaniac as Dan Snyder.  Sad.  And really sad for all the loyal employees who lost their jobs when he was hired.

One of the most astounding comments from his email exchanges, to me at least, was his telling one of the people who had sent an email that he could trace his season tickets through his email address and cancel them.  That might also be enough to terminate him for cause.


October 29th, 2014 at 11:34 AM ^

Being a Redskins fan and living in the D.C. Metro area, I can attest to this. Dan Snyder is a complete and total douche-nozzle. He took one of the best and historic NFL franchises and demolished it in two seasons. Rich, powerful, and completely in over his head in running a football franchise. Sounds like DB to me....


Edit: I meant to say Snyder also runs political garbage Advertising here, but about the Redskins name, not Coke for tickets stunts...


October 29th, 2014 at 10:48 AM ^

Actually, I can believe it. If you accept the idea that Brandon is a petty, egotistical SOB (and by now, it's hard not to), then to him, the blame has to come from elsewhere. It can't possibly be about him, or something he's done/something he's said/a decision he's screwed up/etc. It's always got to be someone else's fault. And what better "someone else" than the people on the other side of the political fence?


October 29th, 2014 at 11:02 AM ^

He doesn't have any ammo.  The party lines thing, while I don't doubt is true, is absolutely irrelevent.  No regent who actual wants what is best for UM, regardless of political party, has any legitimate rational for wanting to keep Brandon at this point.  Just because some regents belonging to Brandon's political party are sticking with him because of said political party affiliation,  or just because other regents may be even more eager to fire him because of his political affiliation, does not make it a politcal witch hunt.  Dave Brandon has not performed at an acceptable level in his duties as the Athletic Director by all objective accounts, and should be fired.  That's it. 


October 29th, 2014 at 11:36 AM ^

Actually, the two Republican regents do have one possible reason for publicly supporting Brandon, as they have: money. DB is a well-known political donor, and the two regents may not be willing to risk cutting off a source of future campaign funding.

To be fair, I have no idea if Brandon has ever donated to their past campaigns. Still, it's always a good idea not to piss off someone, especially if you might need him to open his checkbook some time in the future.


October 29th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

Additionally.  Politically speaking what would the two Republicans have to gain with coming out against DB.  No one is going to change their vote because they came out in favor of removing DB.  They may even agree that he needs to go. They are not the tie breaking voice. They could get what they really want, and save face with a donor or potential donor. If I am in their situation I take the political cover afforded me and celebrate my "loss" later behind closed doors.

I am certain there are many Republicans who want to see DB go. For them it is not and does not need to be political at all.

Wolverine In Exile

October 30th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

There are far many other GOP'ers in Michigan with money beside Dave Brandon, and many with far more influence. In fact, if Brandon is using party politics to try and save himself, that would piss off even more GOP'ers. Rick Snyder is the face of the Michigan GOP now and in the near term, esepcially if he (likely) wins re-election, and from some political heavyweights I know still in Michigan, Snyder and Brandon are NOT happy best buddies. My take is the political angle Brandon is throwing out is a simple red herring.


October 29th, 2014 at 11:16 AM ^

DB.  Wow, just wow. 

I'm going to start a list of all of the things this guy has done to screw things up.

#1 on the list is pay Hoke an average of $3.5m per year for 6 years with a buyout that started at $6 million and steps down.

#2 on this list is finding out who (MSC?) approved Brandon's contract and buyout.  It's one thing to be a big contributor to UM, but not-so-much when you're taking a huge pot out of UM.

Vice President…

October 29th, 2014 at 10:28 AM ^

I can't believe this team is in the middle of the B1G season and all any one of us can think of is "when are these guys out of here?" and "Harbaugh please."

What a trainwreck this program has become.

I look forward to the day when we can actually enjoy watching our team play again.


October 29th, 2014 at 10:29 AM ^

Man I want Brandon to go but I hope that alums don't seriously consider not giving to the academic side of the school because of this.

True Blue Grit

October 29th, 2014 at 11:13 AM ^

I think the donors may be just threatening to do it to get the President/Regents to take action sooner rather than later.  In other words posturing as part of a de facto negotiation.  That being said, the success of the athletic teams (especially football) does have some carry over effect on how much people feel they want to donate.  I think that's been pretty well proven. 


October 29th, 2014 at 10:31 AM ^

As an Arizona alum, Greg Byrne is pure class. I judge this by the small things, like taking the time to write a thoughtful letter of recommendation for an athlete from a non revenue sport or sending out weekly emails including a balanced approach and consciousness of the fan base.

From one of his emails to students/alums:

"...We’ve been a national Top 10 athletics department in the past and I think we’re on the right road to being back in that group consistently. We still have work to do, and with your continued support and the dedication of our staff, coaches and student-athletes, we’re going to get there.

But for now, let’s enjoy what’s currently taking place on this campus. It’s an exciting time to be an Arizona fan. We don’t know where this thing is going, but it sure is fun to enjoy the ride and we want to make sure you’re enjoying it with us. Get out to games, wear the colors in your office or around town and let everybody know that College Athletics is Wildcat Country!"

The case for Byrne is as simple as "he gets it" but the getting is extensive and I've never heard a word spoken against him. 


October 29th, 2014 at 10:33 AM ^

...we live in as supporters of the University of Michigan and we are spoiled. Our blog covers real timebreaking news, scoops on insider sources within the AD, follows flight trackers and provides extensive e-mail investigations with real life ramifications to those in power. 

Well done, MGoBlog. Well done. We are truly spoiled, indeed


October 29th, 2014 at 10:38 AM ^

was teh most encouraging thing I've read in a week.  Mayyybe Harbaugh?  Yeah.  Mayyyybe Bates?  Yeah. 

On the other hand I don't care whether our AD's politics are in line with Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz.  I doubt anyone else does either (well there is one MGoBlogger I can think of).  Brandon's blaming his politics for his problems makes him either delusional or a liar.  I have to believe the coaches know this.


October 29th, 2014 at 10:50 AM ^

mandatory meeting to discuss his own situation and then describe the relationship as not "being all about me"?  How would you like to be head coach of a non-revenue sport?  you earn A great job at a great university.  Maybe your dream job.  But no one knows who you are.  No real fan or media support.  Your entire career hinges upon the support and the opinions of Dave Brandon and his ginormous ego.  It would be like working as Joseph McCarthy's staffer after his censure.


October 29th, 2014 at 11:25 AM ^

my real fear is the slight chance that Brandon just might survive this whole ordeal, so I better wave the pom poms for this jackass or he's going to fire me once he finds out that I didn't join in on this "grassroots" letter-writing fiasco. Call it what it is: extortion.  Shameful. 


On the other hand, if he gets canned and I'm running my program successfully there's no reason the new AD would feel the need to replace me.