Who’s in Charge of U-M Football?

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

A struggle for power isn’t exactly news. GM’s want to do this; head coaches want to do that. Head coaches want to do this; coordinators want to do that. Everyone has the correct answer for the problem. Shoot, the ongoing battles between federal and state governments are breathing proof, just in case you’re more in tuned with politics than sports.

The same debate is starting to take catch fire at Michigan, where questions are arising about the details of former offensive coordinator Al Borges’ firing. Most notably, of course: who made the call?
Personally, I think as fans of the program, we should just be tickled to death that the move was even made. So let’s turn our attention away from the firing of Borges and the hiring of Nussmeier. It’s not the focal point of this argument.

I want to know where the power lies in Michigan football. Is it upon the shoulders of Brady Hoke, or is it athletic director Dave Brandon? Naturally, most of us would love to think that Brady Hoke has the outright power of the program when it comes to those below him. It makes sense because he’s the guy who spends the most time with his coaches and staff, which would presumably make him the best fit candidate to call the shots. He’s inside of everything at all times.

Dave Brandon, on the other hand, has a worthy knowledge of the U-M staff and, as a former player, understands how things should look from within the program. The only problem with that, though, is Dave Brandon doesn’t exactly have his eyes on the inside. He’s the athletic director of a major Big Ten university. Though he primary interests rest with the football team, the man carries more responsibilities than dissecting every part of one of his programs.

In a recent press conference, Brandon was asked this very question. To it, he responded, “Brady (Hoke) makes all decisions as it relates to the people he wants to surround himself to be successful. This is Brady. This is Brady being a leader and Brady knowing that the program comes first and sometimes you have to make changes in the best interests of the program and that’s what happened today.”

Brandon praised Brady Hoke a few times in his responses with titles like “leader” and saying “… it’s why Brady is here.” 

Those who say Dave Brandon is power hungy and, most importantly, calls all the shots, often point towards the fact that Michigan football gives Brandon a pretty penny every year — a very pretty penny. So why would he not do what’s in his best interest? 

Though it’s not the complete answer, let’s go back to the hiring of Brady Hoke. On the phone with Brandon, Hoke accepted the position immediately, before any talks of contracts, money, benefits. It was all secondary to the job itself. Logic tells you that’s the beginning of a pretty healthy relationship. And it’s true. Hoke and Brandon have worked very well together through three years, and I firmly believe Brandon really does have his coach’s back. 

That’s why I believe the power at Michigan rests with Brady Hoke. There is absolutely no logical reason as to why Dave Brandon would need to step in with a heavy first and put his reputation on the line like that. I won’t dismiss the notion that Brandon didn’t give a little whisper into the ear of Hoke, but there’s no reason for Brandon to intervene on these situations. 

You say the head coach should have the authority of his team. And I believe that’s what you have. 

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.