Well, the news in Ann Arbor Is that Athletic Director Dave Brandon resigned. With all the negative publicity surrounding Michigan football, the only surprise is that it was today. Was Brandon the right person for this incredible position or was the Peter Principle in play? I have not studied or evaluated Brandon’s tenure as the athletic director at the University of Michigan(although he fired, Rich Rod and hired Brady Hoke).
However, some background is needed. In 1968 Don Canham succeeded, Fritz Crisler, as the athletic director at the University of Michigan. Canham was an impressive athlete being an All-American at Michigan in the high jump in 1940. After completing and helping the Michigan Wolverines track and field team win the Big Ten Conference in 1940 and 1941, Canham later served as Michigan’s head coach in track and field for 18 years from 1950-to 1968. During his tenure, the Wolverines won 12 Big Ten conference championships, seven indoor and five outdoor. It’s obvious that Canham was superb evaluator of talent and recruiting.
Don Canham ran the athletic department as A.D. from 1968 through 1988. He first hired Bo Schembechler as its head coach in 1968; was a skilled, aggressive marketer; placed Notre Dame on its football schedule and set national attendance records at the Big House. Canham knew about business marketing and selected a brilliant football coach to say the least.
Don Canham was succeeded by Bo Schembechler as A.D. Schembechler coached until 1989 when he began became athletic director and served for two years. Schembechler’s health had something to do with his short tenure as the Wolverines athletic director. We all know that Schembechler was a brilliant and successful coach.
In my opinion, I don’t think anyone has successfully run the A.D. department as did Don Canham. Sure, William Martin made a profit during his 10 years or so. And the others since Canham, had relatively short stints as A.D.’s. That doesn’t say much for stability nor direction.
Hopefully this time, the highly intelligent new president Dr. Mark Schlissel will select the right A.D. for the University of Michigan. And that he’ll not be threatened by picking the best individual for this position. Some of the criteria he might consider include: 1. an outstanding athlete 2. Head-coaching experience 3. Business-marketing skills 4. Ability to evaluate, understand and surround oneself with brilliant, competent individuals
Go Blue !