While listening to Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night, I heard that an upset San Francisco Giants fan had recently e-mailed the team’s manager, Bruce Bochy. In fact, this fan is an attorney who had attended a convention at which Bochy had spoken recently. The fan was irate because Bochy hadn’t started eventual Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (whose Game 7 outing was one for the ages) on short rest at different points in the playoffs.
As part of Bochy’s response, he thanked the writer for being such a dedicated fan of the Giants. A savvy move by an outstanding coach and overall representative of the team and program.
What do you think Dave Brandon would have done? This was the first thing I thought of when I heard this story, with MGoBlog, one of the finest resources in the blogosphere, having just broken the news of Brandon’s hostile e-mail replies to concerned Michigan fans in the last year. My thought was that he would have told the fan to go root for the Royals instead, while possibly also insulting his wife.
And on that note, this sad, disgusting saga in Michigan athletic history will mercifully and thankfully come to end at 1:30 PM today, as Brandon is set to announce his resignation at that time. Which, of course, is the University’s way of allowing him to save face. Brandon had slowly dug his own grave over the last couple of years and this e-mail disaster was the last bit of dirt that needed to be removed from the ground before his career was ready to be buried in it.
I mean, stop and reflect on this for a minute. Here we have the athletic director of one of the nation’s foremost universities. A university that is among the best at most of what it does (football obviously not being one of those things at the moment). And what is he spending his time doing? He’s engaging in hostile e-mail exchanges with fans. And this is a man who is supposedly known for his marketing and PR sense (which had long since been shown to be non-existent, but more on that in a minute). The idea of the athletic director of a major university embarrassing himself and everyone else associated with the school in this way is so mind-boggling, it defies any sort of rational explanation.
Yes, make no mistake about this. In his short tenure as AD here, Brandon has brought unspeakable shame and disgrace first and foremost upon himself, but also on the players who work so hard to be part of the football team, the students, the alumni and all the other fans, and on the game of college football itself. His policies have been a travesty:
- There was the nonsense of raising student ticket prices to such an absurd level that only 12,000 students bothered to purchase them this year, down from the usual 20,000 or so. In a desperate move to save his job, he recently agreed to lower them for next year, but fortunately, that move won’t save him.
- There was increasing outrage from the alumni and general fanbase as he continued to raise the
preferred seat donationextra fees required for season tickets in all sections of the stadium over the last couple of years.
- There was his pathetic handling of the Shane Morris concussion situation.
- There was the corporate atmosphere he put in the stadium, in which the latest terrible crap from the Top 40 would be heard more often than the great Michigan marching band.
- Oh, and let’s not forget his coaching search that landed Brady Hoke, which was conducted in such an incompetent way that it makes the handling of the Iraq War look strategically sound by comparison.
Overall, it had started to resemble more of a carnival with football as a sideshow attraction (for the visiting fans, anyway) than anything we are familiar with as fans of Michigan football and the gameday experience.
With all of this in consideration, the news of his e-mails made his imminent dismissal as certain as the sun coming up tomorrow morning. It was only a matter of time. I applaud University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel for seeing to it that it happened sooner rather than later. And thus ends one of the most mind-bogglingly pitiful chapters in Michigan football history. There is no doubt that Hoke will also be gone, after the OSU game, at this point.
Now, a word of caution. As we know from, oh, four years ago, firing one coach who had proven that the job was too much for him doesn’t guarantee that we get anyone better. However, I am confident that the University will move quickly to hire a solid AD – Brad Bates of Boston College has been mentioned many times lately – who will then conduct a proper head coaching search and bring us someone who will bring this program back to prominence. As good as Michigan football has been historically, we do only have one national title since 1949, along with a few near-misses, and it is time to get into the playoff picture and get that next title. It will take time, no doubt about it, but it will happen with the right hire.
There are plenty of good coaches out there, many of whom will want this job, which makes the Brandon
firing resignation that much more important. As substantiated by John U. Bacon – whom you might know for his fine work in Three and Out – and reported on 105.1 FM this morning, this job was not desirable if Brandon stayed, due to his insistence on being part of, well, everything. Such as film sessions and practices. In fact, we can now say that each of the last two Michigan football coaches, while clearly being inept in some key areas, also had elements within the program undermining his ability to do his job properly, but that is another post for another time, let’s say after Hoke is fired.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also go off-topic here and give some props to the Lions, who won in yet another thrilling comeback this past Sunday. I was originally going to write about them today, because I wanted to embrace the positives in local sports (imagine that!), but this news superseded everything else in my sports world today. More on the Lions soon.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an e-mail to write….