Saturday, December 13, 2014

U of M's Next Football Coach

I am thoroughly impressed with Dr. Mark S. Schlissel’s appointment as the University of Michigan’s 14th president on July 14, 2014. This former provost has an unequaled resume. Dr. Schlissel obtained a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and attained both a PhD and MD at Johns Hopkins. During his professional-academic career, he also was a chair and Dean at UC Berkeley (a distinguished, to say the least, Public University). And of course the provost at Brown, an Ivy League University.

According to one interview, Mark likes playing basketball and tennis and reads about intercollegiate athletics. He is said to have a passion for the role of higher education in making a difference to the world we live in. So, I have no quarrel with his selection as president of this world renowned University. On the other hand, I wonder about his recent interim appointment of Jimmy Hackett as Michigan’s athletic director.

Mr.  CEO Hackett, in a major decision, recently accepted athletic director Dave Brandon’s resignation. And then, he terminated head football coach Brady Hoke. It is true that Brady Hoke had an overall winning record. And it is also true, that in his four years each successive season had more losses. Further, Michigan did not get a bowl appearance request. One can argue should or shouldn’t Brady Hoke, have been fired.

It is also a fact that the University of Michigan’s football-athletic program is big business and has been for quite some time. So, when I heard that Mr. Hackett is having an executive search team fined a new coach that bothered me (too corporate). Yes, I know that past history is important and that predictions about future performance is flawed. Just take a look at the number of hiring’s and firings in big time collegiate athletics, and at the professional level. It appears that it is more an art than a science as far as the selection process.

I would just as soon take a more scientific approach in setting up the criteria for the selection process, especially with the search team. We all know in our culture that the bottom line is wins and losses. I hope they don’t forget the matter of integrity as an important variable. For those of you that do not know, Coach Bo Schembechler’s history, this man was sincere, honorable, didn’t cut corners or break rules. Just ask Fritz Seyferth when Bo found out that a Michigan alum was bending an NCAA rule. Bo would have none of it, and dismissed that alum from Michigan’s program on the spot.

Stay tuned as the Michigan story unfolds. In the meantime, Go Blue!

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