ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan football fans have had very little to cheer about over the first two months of the 2014 season. The team traveled to South Bend for the final meeting with Notre Dame and got pounded 31-0. Then Minnesota stormed into the Big House and took the Brown Jug for the first time since 2005. Last weekend, in-state rival Michigan State walked all over the Wolverines to drop them to 3-5 on the season.
Who would have thought Michigan's biggest win of the season would come on a Friday?
President Mark Schlissel announced Friday afternoon that Dave Brandon has resigned as Michigan athletic director amid a storm of national scrutiny. Jim Hackett, CEO of Steelcase, will serve as interim AD in wake of the announcement.
Hackett was an offensive lineman at Michigan at the same time as Brandon under legendary coach Bo Schembechler.
With Brandon's departure, the university not only hopes to bring back a winning football team, but also to knock down the divide the businessman created between the athletic department and the students.
What went wrong?
Brandon took over the Michigan athletic department with one goal in mind: Turn the tradition of the university into profit. With that money he played a major role in building some of the most impressive athletic facilities in the country, but it came at a steep price.
Students were not only shoved to the corner of the Big House during games, but they were charged more and more money for season tickets each season, despite the declining quality of the on-field product.
Football games that previously centered around an elite team turned into a spectacle, as the program awarded players with "legends jerseys" to honor the greats from the past, yet struggled to produce any greats for the future.
Brandon's demise began when he ignored the needs of the students, but it accelerated when he let the inferno spread to the alumni. Last week, MGoBlog revealed controversial emails that Brandon sent to unhappy alumni. In those emails Brandon told die-hard fans that Michigan didn't need them and attacked them for their concern about the direction of the program.
On Monday, in wake of all the controversy, Brandon's most valuable ally, Stephen Ross, backed off his previous statements backing the AD. Ross said that he wouldn't stand in the school's way of making a change. Just four days after his statement, Michigan and Brandon parted ways.
Schlissel didn't release any names in regard to a search for a permanent athletic director.
"This is a very important position at the university," Schlissel said. "I'll be looking for a person that prioritizes the welfare and the experience of our student athletes, a person of unquestioned integrity, not just integrity to the level of NCAA rules, but integrity to the Michigan way of doing athletics. I'll be looking for somebody that appreciates the bond, the cultural aspects of this great athletic program and what it does for our community. And I'll be looking for somebody who wants to make the athletic program as tightly integrated a part of the overall university environment as possible."
In other words, Schlissel is looking for someone that not only brings Michigan athletics back to the standard of decades past, but also someone to bridge the gap Brandon built between the athletic department and the rest of the community.
Michigan could potentially be interested in the University of Connecticut's athletic director Warde J. Manuel, who served as associate AD at Michigan. Manuel also played defensive tackle for the Wolverines from 1986-89 before suffering a career-ending neck injury.
Current Arkansas AD Jeff Long also rose to associate AD at Michigan before becoming the top dog at Pittsburgh.
Specific terms of Brandon's resignation will be released later on Friday. The university has not commented on how the move will affect head football coach Brady Hoke, who is also under fire.