John U Bacon on UM Football, Athletics

Submitted by Michael on October 24th, 2014 at 1:57 PM

I'm surprised to see that this hasn't been posted, but Bacon has written a very thorough analysis of where things currently stand with respect to the AD and football program. It's a bit long, but worth the read:



October 24th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

He usually re-hashes what's happened with the whole Brandon 2014 saga so far, but I think he's doing that because his stories get published on yahoo sports now so he knows they'll get national play. Most people who stumble across the article probably aren't as in the know about every detail of what's happened so far. He's basically just adding to his story with every new publication, which is fine with me. What he's saying is still no less spot on.


October 24th, 2014 at 3:32 PM ^

then in private, probably in your regular one on one you say - Boss your presence in the film review is distracting from what we need to do. I'm going to have to ask you to sit those out for a while. If Brandon is watching film with the coaches, then he's welcome there and not a problem, bet on it. 

In case you're curious, over the years I've had to have similar conversations with more than one of my bosses and in a couple of cases more than once on different issues. 

Roc Blue in the Lou

October 24th, 2014 at 11:41 PM ^

1000000000000000 points to, if i had any to spare!  Brandon does NOT i repeat NOT IN ANY WAY threaten Hoke or Mattison or whoever by being in the film room.  And, although I iwould not and prefer he wouldn't participate in this activity, iI find it absurd, both in the reaction to it on this board and the idea--without a smidge of evidence to support same--that Hoke is both bothered by Brandon's viewing and unable/unwilling to prohibit the same.  Maybe they all eat popcorn, maybe the more the merrier, maybe Hoke just doesn't give two stones about Brandon's proclivities as long as they don't interfere with his own.  GD Time this was said for St. James' Sake.


October 24th, 2014 at 4:04 PM ^

I dont know. But I can't see how Bacon is allowed to throw that out there as a type of accusation without acknowledging that he did the same thing, despite having far less reason for doing so.

And he didn't even say that Brandon was meddling, coaching, or even talking in there. He of course insinuates it when he suggests that no good coach will work for Brandon because he likes to watch the film.

If he is going to make an accusation, fine. Make it. Got some proof? Tell us; its something we would love to know. But he has handled this exactly how he handled the Lloyd Carr accusations in Three and Out. He wouldn't sayoutright that Lloyd sabotaged the program, but he did quite someone else blaming, 'Numero Uno'.

I don't like the idea of Brandon in the film room. Even if he just sits and watches, getting a read on how the coaches prepare and so on, there is a chance that he is a distraction. Or that his presence doesn't allow our coaches to be themselves in there. I don't like it.

But I like having a football-playing AD in there just as much as I like a hockey-playing writer in there. And then taking what he hears in there are writing a tell-all book about it? Not for me.


October 24th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

And changed my mind at the first sentence of your last paragraph. I don't think there is a "chance there is a distraction" - I am sure there is. Whether the 3rd wheel is an egomaniacal, former football-playing AD or a hockey-playing writer, the point is the same.



October 24th, 2014 at 4:21 PM ^

I'm no good at concise posts. My first one was one line and didn't get the point across. The next one was about 100 words too much. But yeah, that's the point. Bacon makes it look like Brandon just sitting in the room is bad, but he did the same. Both are bad.

Now, if he can show me that Brandon is doing more than sitting in, I will kiss Jon Bacon.


October 24th, 2014 at 4:45 PM ^

Of course the purposes are different. But if the conduct is the same (both are just sitting and watching how the coaches operate) then the outcome is probably very similar (a distraction). And as a fan of the football team, the outcome is what I am concerned with.

I've said a lot of times, I am apathetic when it comes to Brandon. I dont like him, nor do I hate him. I can't say that he is in there to stroke his ego. I dont know enough about him as a person. I would hate him if I thought he was trying to coach in there. But I don't believe that. I think the most likely scenario is that as an old ballplayer, he likes to watch film. I do. I'd rather watch film than the actual game. I think a lot of old ballplayers think that way.

Blue Durham

October 24th, 2014 at 5:15 PM ^

I don't know whether the conduct is the same, that would probably depend on how much if at all either interact.

Regardless, they can't be an equivalent distraction. One is just one of many writers that are around during the season, the other is someone with power over every single person in the room. There is no getting around the fact that Brandon's presence would be very disproportionate as compared to Bacon's.

And I don't know if any of this Brandon/film session stuff is true, but if so, another difference would be that for Bacon it was a 1 season thing, presumably, for Brandon, it would be on-going.

These two cases really aren't comparable.


October 24th, 2014 at 5:28 PM ^

Your point about Brandon having a larger effect than Bacon is taken. +1.

But Bacon was in there for three years. Brandon has been in there for 3.5. Brandon was also in there in 2011, when it was all sunshine and roses, so I don't know how large the effect actually is.

The degree of interaction is what my posts have all been about. I assume that neither interacted at all. My reason? Because Bacon, who has been making this assertion for a few years, has never gone so far as to say that Brandon is interacting at all. Which is the problem. Bacon would do us all a huge favor by exposing that. He hasn't, and I think its because he cant.

Is Brandon's worse. Yes. I never said otherwise, and I sure ain't blaming Bacon for Coach Rod's failure. But neither guy has any business being in there, and I find that for Bacon to keep using this as proof that no coach will work for Brandon to be a bit much.

Blue Durham

October 24th, 2014 at 5:57 PM ^

I'm not sure, but I think that Bacon had access only for the 3rd season of Rodriguez. Obviously in his book he discusses what happened during the coaching search that lead to Rodriguez' hiring, and the first 2 seasons, but I think he had the special access only for RR's 3rd year.

I guess I envision the 2 interacting in the film room in very different ways because of the background and very nature of the 2 men. Brandon is older and has much more direct experience and knowledge of football. Bacon is probably just there trying to learn stuff.

It has also been noted by many people have said at various times that, regardless of where he is, Brandon is convinced that he is the smartest person in the room. The content, context and purpose of anything Brandon says or asks in the film room is going to be much different than anything Bacon says or asks, and will be taken as such.

Because of this, anything that comes out of Brandon's mouth is just going to have a different air to it than anything that Bacon says or asks, and with Brandon's, it is going to have a lot more weight to it.

Regarding Bacon using this as proof that no coach wants to work with Brandon, I am sure that this doesn't help. I would think it is more a personality thing, but don't you think that this film room stuff is a reflection of Brandon's personality?

And that is off-putting.


October 24th, 2014 at 9:48 PM ^

I'm sure the staff would be happy to send him film which he could watch on his own.

The situation is as poisonous, perhaps more so, than RichRod and so a lot of RichRod supporters gave up for the good of the program. Why can't the Hoke/Brandon supporters, you may not be pro Brandon but you claim apathy which is a vote for the status quo, do the same?

The situation is bad but it can certainly get worse if it continues.


October 24th, 2014 at 10:01 PM ^

I'm not sure what you want. I'm 100% apathetic on Brandon. Wouldn't bother me if he stays or goes. I dont think its a vote for the status quo, because I dont particularly want him. Nor is it a democracy. I dont have a vote.

With Hoke, I am pulling for him because I know him and like him, but as coach of Michigan, I've pretty much lost hope. Sort of like John U Bacon at the end of Three and Out. What more do you want?

I wanted Coach Rod gone, but I never once made personal attacks on his integrity or intelligence. But to the board, Hoke is a boob and Brandon is a bad guy. I dont get it. I wont play that game now, just like I didn't play it then.


October 24th, 2014 at 10:54 PM ^

Well like you I don't have a vote either. I'm not blaming you and don't mean to have it come out that way. I do agree there is no place for personal attacks but do believe there are legitimate gripes with both Brandon and Hoke. Anyway, my issue isn't with you and I apologize if you interpreted as such.

Roc Blue in the Lou

October 24th, 2014 at 11:52 PM ^

In what way has Brandon publicized or emphasized (i.e. "agrandized") his presence in the Film Room???  It seem JUB and several on this blog have broacast his iinvolvment FAR more than Brandon has...oh, and that is his employee(s) he is spending time with watching, you know, a sport in HIS Athletic Department.  Jeez...and Schissel (sp?) went to a football practice...was he giving Hoke a new play????   You can hate Brandon, and why would I care, but quit acting like a bunch of dicks all up in arms cuz a former Michigan player turned AD wants to watch some film with his hand-picked head coach.


October 25th, 2014 at 6:30 AM ^

Bacon was with Rodriguez as an embedded reporter writing a book which Rich Rod supposedly had the final editorial say on.  Brandon is the AD, it's not his job to coach football.  His job is to make sure things run well, that rules aren't being broken, and to suck up to rich donors to give the department more money. He's the boss with the power to hire or fire everyone in the room.   I'm sorry if you don't understand the difference in the power dynamics in the two situations.  Now maybe Hoke invited Brandon or Hoke doesn't care, but the perception to an outsider, ie., a new head coach candidate, is that Brandon is overbearing and/or micromanaging.  And if you want a top-tier head coach, who generally want a great deal of autonomy and also have healthy egos, that perception will make many of those candidates stay away from Michigan.  


October 24th, 2014 at 4:45 PM ^

To an outside coach, an AD sitting in on film study may seem like a form meddling that would be a pain to deal with.  And that may make him less likely to want to work with that AD. Whereas hearing that RR let a reporter watch film with him once doesn't have that impact.  The new coach could very easily tell Bacon "no" with no problems resulting.



October 24th, 2014 at 5:11 PM ^

The point about Brandon being a distraction is true, and because of that, I've already said that I dont like it.

But the conduct itself seems to be identical: two guys who are not coaches just sitting in the room and watching film with the staff. I assume that is what is happening, because Bacon hasn't said anything more than that. He hasn't said what his words are leading a lot of us to believe -- that Brandon is giving technical, tactical, or personnel orders. That's my problem.

Would anyone have a problem with the HC popping in on positional meetings? I can tell you that the whole dynamic changes when the Old Man walks in the oline room. Is he undermining his position coach? Obviously not. Well, the AD is the HCs boss. Why can't he sit in? Is he undermining the HC? I dont think so, unless he does something more than just watch. And if he does, he shouldn't only be fired, I'd want him shot. But there's no proof, even from the guy who keeps bringing it up.

Roc Blue in the Lou

October 24th, 2014 at 11:56 PM ^

Or, maybe it means the AD gets it and football rules???   Yeah, i would agree with you about the bad vibe if you had Brandon criticizing Hoke or players on post-game review, but he keeps his reactions to himself.  Frankly, if i was the AD there would be a great deal more public criticism about this current regime and the sorry state of football affairs.

You Only Live Twice

October 24th, 2014 at 4:50 PM ^

For most jobs, the John Bacon as a guest in the room is not the same as having the manager's boss in the room.  Even if the boss says nothing at all (and how likely is that) it sends a message to the manager's employees... or, I would think, to the coach's players.  Whatever the boss does say outside of "Well carry on the good work guys, just wanted to say hi!" before taking his leave, will function as a dilution of the manager's authority.  There's just no good reason I can see for having the AD hang out there. 

 Who knows how often he does it; maybe that's been exaggerated, none of us know.  I just think that all the players should know about the AD is that he does his job and that the coaches are supported by him. 


October 24th, 2014 at 5:58 PM ^

Let me rephrase that, I don't understand why a third party would have a problem with a supervisor sitting in on a meeting one of his subordinates is conducting.  From the coaches perspective I can understand it, they don't want their methods to be critiqued, they would rather their voodoo remain secret, hand shakes and all.

I can understand it in some certain circumstances.  Example, I won't sit in on my company's safety committee meetings.  I'll have one of my junior subordinates conduct the meeting so there isn't an overbearing company presence, I want the employees to be completely candid.

 On the other hand I often sit in on daily shift meetings and maintenance planning meetings as well as safety meetings.  I want to both know what is going on and I want my managers knowing I care about what's going on.  Do I involve myself in those meetings, no, but I do take notes and do folllow up.  That isn't self-aggrandizement, that's doing my job.


You Only Live Twice

October 24th, 2014 at 9:46 PM ^

I see what you are saying, TX, some of the effects depend on what kind of relationships are there, trusting, supportive, and so on.......and at some point when we try to draw analogies with our jobs, it may start to be, not relevant to what happens in the AD/HC situation. 

I had a job once where my superior did not discourage employees from doing an end run around their manager and go right to him instead.  Eventually it blew up in his face and the resultant dysfunction cost him his job.

This wouldn't be applicable in football, I'm guessing, absent some really weird stuff happening.  Where it might get to be a problem in the coaching world is, for example, why did Shane Morris start that game?  Coaches, outside pressure on AD putting pressure on HC?  Or totally independent decision making from coaching staff?  Who the [email protected]$! knows?? 

If the AD is watching film and saying, "OH that's what went wrong with that play" and he enjoys that analysis he should be doing that from his own living room because it just plain should not matter what his opinion is of a play.  Coaches aren't there to improve the AD's understanding, they are there to improve the players.   Coaching should be 100% delegated to the people paid to do that job.

But this is all opinion based on speculation... what really happens.. we'll have to wait for a book some day.



October 24th, 2014 at 11:28 PM ^

First off I totally agree with you that if Shane starting came from the AD that is totally f'ed up.

I just don't think that is how it went down. The two scenarios I see could be One Gardner haveing problems throwing the ball. Is it mental or physical I don't know. Nuss barely calls plays that go downfield cause he isn't confident they will succeed. Funch's TD was thrown about 10 to 15 yards short of where his route was dictating the ball should have gone. Them they only three deep one other play all game. So if Gardner can't throw the ball downfield why wouldn't you try the highly recruited back up?

My other theory on what happend was Hoke was mind Fing his team. The week before I saw some awful effort by the team against Utah and benching Gardner let the team know that if you don't give the kind of effort needed to win we will give another guy a chance. I think I saw better effort in the Rutgers game and Penn State then I saw in the Utah game. So whatever reason The coaches had to playing Morris the effort of the team has been better.


October 24th, 2014 at 2:36 PM ^

Honestly, If I were Dave I'd watch film with the coaches too.  After watching the Borges debacle last year I'd want to know WTF was going through his head and if the problem was Hoke or Borges, and if you had confidence that we'd get better. 

It wouldn't surprise me if the coaches watched our film and said "well we just didn't execute but we competed and showed some toughness".  If I was choosing between making a coaching change or not, I'd sure want to know what I really thought of the current staff before making a move. 


October 24th, 2014 at 2:42 PM ^

Dave "watching film with the coaches" is a major part of why the team sucks.  David Brandon obviously has a lot of say as to the "direction" of playcalling.  Brandon should have been happy with his AD job, but he wanted to be the de facto football coach. 

The results speak for themselves.


October 24th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

You're saying that Brandon has completely taken over the job as OC?  Because certainly Nussmeier would have the offense clicking along at least as good as last year's 42 points per game through the first seven games.  Think Nussmeier will go public with what really happened to the offense that currently has his name on it?

turd ferguson

October 24th, 2014 at 3:09 PM ^

As far as I know, there is no evidence of this whatsoever.  We've heard that Brandon likes to sit in on film sessions, but I haven't seen a word about Brandon dictating anything with respect to playcalling or strategy.

I want Brandon fired.  It's both dishonest and unhelpful, though, to mislead people about what he's done in order to encourage that firing.  His true record offers more than enough reason for dismissal.  When people start exaggerating, misleading, or extrapolating, it makes it seem like the bad stuff he's actually done might also be exaggerated.


October 24th, 2014 at 3:24 PM ^

He hired Brady, because of the MANBAWL feature he promised...


Dave is the old school one who wants nothing but power running.


Brady has ran more with Michigan, than any other team he previously coached. Even more than when he had Hillman at SDSU.


Brandon is the disease, the football team is the side-effect.


The side-effect of Dave's ego.


October 24th, 2014 at 4:11 PM ^

Probably so and I do, too. When I'm trying to run a team meeting or where I need (for whatever reason) to lead a group, I find it's really hard to have my boss in the room. By definition, he outranks me, and the other participants know it. It diminishes my authority among my own team even if the acknowledgement is not a conscious one.

turd ferguson

October 24th, 2014 at 4:20 PM ^

If Brandon's in there saying, "Hey, I think we need to do more X or stop doing Y or try play Z," then that's (1) insane and (2) very different from him just sticking his head in to see what happens.  Sticking his head in probably isn't good either, because it gets people nervous and changes the dynamics in the room, but it's completely different from him actually dictating what kind of offense or defense we're running.  

There's no doubt that it's a little weird and that it might undermine or mess with our coaches' thinking.  Still, that's a very different allegation from saying that Brandon is designing our offense.


October 24th, 2014 at 6:10 PM ^

Your boss isn't undermining your authority by merely being present.  If he contradicts you in front of your subordinates, that's undermining your authority.  If, on the other hand, he does as I do, and praises how you conducted your meeting while your subordinates are present it sends the message that he has confidence in you and that he's bolstering your authority.

I understand your lack of comfort but I think if you spoke to your supervisor about it, you would quickly learn that he's not there to undermine you, he's there to ensure your success.


October 24th, 2014 at 7:04 PM ^

I get where you're coming from. I dont like Brandon being in there either. But this is nonsense.

Does your boss only ever look at your output? Isn't it incumbent upon him, as evaluator of your ability, to see what it is you do? How you do it? If you make a mistake, shouldn't he try to find out why? Where you went wrong? Or does he just fire you?

How effective can your boss be if he is not allowed to judge you closer than at a DVD-distance?

Your posts have been reasonable. This one isn't.