David Brandon Press Conference Semi-Transcription

Submitted by Brian on January 5th, 2010 at 12:12 PM

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.



January 5th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

And I realize a lot of this is corporate speak, but I really like that Mr. Brandon seems like he has a plan, he's got the "vision thing" and that he'll make it work.

As much as one can make fun of Domino's for needing to revamp their whole pizza, the fact that they are basing a new marketing campaign for the relaunch on how much people disliked the old product takes some guts, even if it is a clever marketing ploy. It may be calculated honesty, but it is honesty. The key will be to keep what works and improve what isn't working. That's not easy, but I like the chances that Mr. Brandon will be successful.

Also, don't forget, Mr. Brandon was also the CEO of Valassis, so I wonder if we'll see some principles from targeted direct mail coming in to play. Michigan's already done some of that with ticket sales, so I wonder if that is an area upon which he will expand.


January 5th, 2010 at 9:24 PM ^

Sucking up.
Boot licking.
Brown nosing.

All of these are truly manipulative and trite. However, all represent a time-honored method whereby many - and perhaps most - budding tycoons have achieved corporate success: ass kissing.

There are a myriad of important life lessons for those who wish to kiss ass with dexterity, aplomb, and (dare I say) a certain savoir faire! For example, one must learn to tolerate the taste of ass, develop a high level of ass-kissing skill, and...well, you get the idea.

But our newly minted AD, through the faithful fingers of a trusty scribe, has dropped a pearl into our laps which, if we heed it well, will prevent us all from committing the two most detrimental ass-kissing transgressions: Kissing the wrong ass and kissing too much ass.

Neither of these will ever occur if you will LISTEN AND LEARN ASSES.

Powerful words from a powerful man which should inspire, comfort and uplift us all when our butt's in a sling and our ass is on the line.


January 5th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

I also believes this can be turned around.
On a serious note, I'm intrigued at how he plans to solve the problem with factions. You can't force people to support someone, so I wonder if it will be in the form of a strict code of conduct with the ax coming down on those stirring up problems.


January 5th, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

I think that's why he brought up the whole 1200 franchises thing. You can bet that not every one of those franchises was on the same page as he was, but if he got things sorted out then, he'll have some great insight into what he can do to sort things out at Michigan.


January 5th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

Factions are one of those things that happen in part because they are ignored in the hope that they don't exist. If someone with power comes in and lays down "this is the way that it's going to be" AND lives up to that, then you will have two choices, get on board or get out of the way.

275 people that you're going to see pretty regularly present a different set of challenges than 1200 franchisees, but that answer sounded very measured and realistic to me.


January 5th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

as we are way better off (ALL things considered) than we were 10 years ago. Now I look forward with excitement and confidence to watch Brandon take us even further. Maybe this will serve as the emotional boost that the program seems to need.


January 5th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

But it doesn't sound like he had dinner "regularly" with RR as Brian's tipster had suggested. It's splitting hairs but the point of the tipster was that their relationship was stronger than casual, and this press conferences suggests that that's not really the case.

It's not that I think he's in an anti-RR faction, but I would just hope that when he says he's giving him a chance that doesn't mean "we go 9-3 next year or you're gone" kind of chance. If RR gets to a bowl next year, even at 7-5, I would hope the AD would at the very least consider the situation and circumstances rather than be looking for a reason to get his own guy in place.


January 5th, 2010 at 1:11 PM ^

Bo School Of Leadership?

Is that located in College Station? And does that mean our popular radio announcers will get fired?

I'd watch out of I were Brandstatter.


January 5th, 2010 at 1:21 PM ^

Who asked "Are you a quintessential Michigan Man?"(Rhetorical. I'm sure it was the Free Press.)

Blech. Another example of why press conferences are useless.


January 13th, 2010 at 2:07 AM ^

Crisler is already scheduled for a huge renovation. It's a done deal and has nothing to do with the new AD. Martin headed up that project. But, I can tell you this. After paying $6 for a slice of the worst pizza ever (I didn't think any pizza could be bad... it's pizza) at Crisler last weekend, even Dominoes (cardboard and ketchup) would be an improvement over Hungry Howie's....


January 5th, 2010 at 2:28 PM ^

I don't think its adequately registering with people the kind of relentless competitor that Brandon is. He's not Jack Welch, but dammit if Brandon doesn't get to the destination of consensus quickly and then demand accountability and performance from his people. Sure, he'll do the listening, but I believe UM is in for some big changes once Brandon implements his way. And make no mistake, it's Brandon's way or I-94. And as far as airing out stale brands and driving innovation, holy crap. Michigan did a good job here getting Brandon.

Poster Nutbag

January 5th, 2010 at 3:11 PM ^

I'm excited to see what he can do. Also, it will be interesting to see how he brings the factions together with in the athletic dept.

Do you thing the Big House will become the Domino's Big House?

st barth

January 5th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

...domino's is changing their pizza? but i loved the old style. is this brandon guy possibly responsible for a "new coke" sized corporate disaster and that is why he is being pushed out of domino's?

my fingers are crossed that this doesn't become a disaster.

I Luv TDs

January 5th, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

he is saying all the right things so far in regards to richrod however i am still unsure as to if he believes in richrod or if he is just saying the right things at the moment. i hope he gives richrod a fair chance


January 5th, 2010 at 7:34 PM ^

I was listening to an interview with Brandon this evening and loved one bit (paraphrasing here):
"One of the goals of the football team is to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl. In order to be successful at the Rose Bowl, we need to play the type of competition we'll be playing there."

Obviously there isn't time for interesting out of conference games in 2010 or 2011, but hopefully by 2012 or so we can play a non-conference slate that isn't ND and Directional-Michigan x 3.


January 6th, 2010 at 1:09 PM ^

how the hell do i go from - 12 points to - 17 points? Content? What do the points mean, anyway? Can I redeem them for coffee? If not, give me -1,000,000, because, although I appreciate the website, and the differences of opinion, even when the owner's opinions are a pos, I have 0 respect for the intolerence BC shows on the board. I can't even listen to WTKA on mondays anymore.


January 5th, 2010 at 8:31 PM ^

Wait a minute here. He has always lead a company that was #1 in their industry? What the heck is he talking about? Dominoes Pizza has been dead on the vine for 10 years. It isn't even #1 in it's home state. The commercials about "cardboard crust and ketchup for sauce" are dead on. It has lacked quality and a competitive position in the marketplace for a decade (basically one year after he took over as CEO). That aside, it's in print now. He can't reneg on his position to "keep RR for his contract". If he does, he will lose all credibility and support from many close to the program. GO BLUE in 2010... RR will win the Big Ten the following year! This guy sounds like a typical politician to me.


January 5th, 2010 at 9:26 PM ^

I am excited about this guy and really, really hope he turns things around. We are in good shape financially, but our showcase athletic teams stink. We need help.

I cannot forgive Martin for botching the Les Miles thing. When we really needed leadership -- i.e. putting Lloyd on a leash and orchestrating a scenario that would get us Les -- Martin totally checked out. A truly weak effort.

Brandon -- be the man! We need one.


January 5th, 2010 at 10:33 PM ^

Will Dave Brandon's replacement realize how much better the old Domino's Pizza is than the new crap that they're selling now and change back...

Six Zero

January 6th, 2010 at 7:49 AM ^

I said it yesterday, the guy gets marketing and branding, and probably played a part in the hire, and with good reason. Hell, Don Canham practically invented collegiate merchandising during his tenure.

Why does everyone suddenly disapprove every move on campus anymore...?

OMG this sucks, never nuff peperoni on my Dom's, shooda highered da Coner???


January 6th, 2010 at 9:47 AM ^

At one point in my storied career, I worked as an Assistant Manager at the Domino's store serving Dave Brandon. It was corporate at the time, and we annotated his phone number so we'd know it was him, as we did for every exec who lived in our area (there were a few). Basically, everything stopped when he called up for an order; his order was made as soon as it was taken, and it jumped the line for delivery too. What's kind of funny is, he wasn't that good a tipper. Irritated at this state of affairs, I came up with the Dave Brandon Special- full price plus five dollars. (Don't get your panties in a bunch, I only ever overcharged HIM; you're just cheap and prone to thinking you got ripped off when you didn't.) I did this a couple of times, and the next time he calls up, he hesitates for a minute and asks, "Do you have any specials?" Good times.

Here's why I love MGoBlog: the alt-tag for the pic reads 'Dave-Brandon-some-guy'. That guy had won a Frannie, which is the highest award a franchisee can win. You have to be really awesome at everything- sales, profit, store cleanliness, volume, you name it- to even be considered. Guys like this tend to be the Rain Man of pizza, but hey, they're really good.

A note of caution, though; it was disingenuous of him to talk about getting 1,200 franchisees all pulling in the same direction. The franchise agreement is a one-way straightjacket. They have very little say, and Domino's messes sh*t up periodically to drive mom-and-pops out of the business, like mandate a new computer system worth $8,000 that they charge $20,000 to install, or mandate store image standards that force franchisees to spend many thousands to keep up, or lose their store. I was amused by that. As a CEO, he was meh- not good, not bad. He came in to Domino's with that same 'listening' shtick, fwiw. So, good luck with that. Michigan's AD is very MSU-ish, so if he can fix that, good on him. Turnabout is fair play, I guess- MSU's AD, long riven by dissension and factions, is now very Michigan-like, while Michigan's AD... you get the idea.


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