Just like every other major university that has a premier athletic department, the University of Michigan’s Athletic Department has its every move put under a microscope and scrutinized by countless media outlets. This holds especially true for Michigan’s football program, which is steeped in tradition. Over the past decade, though, the nation has watched on as this once truly amazing program has gone from competing for a spot in the 2007 BCS National Championship game, to stumbling to an abysmal 2-3 record this season.
Ever since David Brandon left his position as CEO of Domino’s Pizza and took over as the Athletic Director for the University of Michigan in 2010, there has been very few bright spots other than an incredible increase in revenue for the football team. Now increasing revenue is obviously a great thing, but it came at the expense of the fans, students, and alumni and has created a toxic environment around the football program. Brandon’s biggest mistake has been treating the athletic department as a corporation by raising ticket prices, hiring a puppet head coach that was not qualified for the position, and by undercutting loyal fans with promotions to keep records intact.
Beginning last Monday, arguably the worst week in Michigan football history kicked off with reports of a promotion to buy 2 coke products and receive 2 tickets to the Minnesota-Michigan game Saturday. Twitter, the same medium Dave Brandon had used successfully to help garner Michigan positive attention, blew up in laughter and many pundits in the national media used this to show just how far Michigan has fallen. Little did they know this was going to be the most meaningless event of the week. Brady Hoke, the head football coach, was arguably a dead man walking before Saturday’s game against “rival” Minnesota, but after the game the situation became a matter of when than if. As many of you know, concussion issues in football has become a very highly debated issue and this weekend, Brady Hoke threw a can of gasoline onto this topic and destroyed any chance he had of remaining the head coach of Michigan. After his quarterback, Shane Morris, took a direct hit to the chin, slowly wobbled up with the help of his offensive line, Hoke decided to keep Morris in even though he was clearly concussed. Naturally, the whole nation saw this as Michigan is such a prominent program, and news stories tarnishing Michigan began to be published all over the world of sports and eventually to places like ABC news. And now, as I’m typing this, there is a large student protest on Michigan’s campus calling for the firing of Dave Brandon, the man who used social media to promote the Michigan brand and the man who is going to eventually lose his job because of his poor decisions being spotlighted by the media.