Dear Mr. Ross,
We have never met before, and we likely never will. I am not an athlete or a Business student, but please, I implore you to read and carefully consider my words, for they are the (completely unofficial and unauthorized) pleas of every Michigan student, alumni and Walmart Wolverine.
Today, we beg of you: fire Athletic Director Dave Brandon.
We do not ask this lightly, for we know it is no simple act for you to remove a member of the administration. Please let me explain.
The last month has been a tough one.
While our hopes were high after dominating rival Appalachian State, the season — and our lives — quickly fell apart. We suffered our worst loss to Notre Dame in program history, followed by a disappointing performance against Miami of Ohio and a loss to Utah. We collapsed against Minnesota and lost the Little Brown Jug. For the first time in 135 years of football, we had three losses before the end of September–and then we lost again to Rutgers.
This is an unprecedented embarrassment to the school and requires action.
I know, I know — Dave Brandon hasn’t been all bad. Our Athletic Department has built beautiful new facilities while racking up huge achievements in basketball and a handful of sports I didn’t know we had. But Mr. Ross, as you know, Michigan is not Michigan without a winning football team. It’s like a library without books or going to Rick’s while sober.
I am a lifelong Michigan fan, and during my undergraduate years I have seen a clear decline in the prestige of our program. We haven’t made a single trip to the Rose Bowl, and we have been rocked with scandals that Brandon should be more than capable of covering up. I fear that soon football players may even start doing their homework or waiting in line at bars. We must attack this problem root and branch. Michigan coach Brady Hoke should certainly lose his job, but if we are to return to our glorious past, Dave Brandon must go as well. Even a digital appearance from Beyoncé can’t fix the damage he continues to do.
In his interview with The Michigan Daily, Brandon was absolute in his resolve to stay on, ignoring the anger of thousands of students and alumni. It appears that he will not leave on his own accord, no matter how hard we try to shame and embarrass him. Mr. Ross, you are the only person with the authority to fix this situation.
You recently told The Wall Street Journal that you hope Brandon stays on. I understand your hesitance at taking action, as you consider Brandon a friend and one of your favorite employees, but Michigan football is a business and people need to be held accountable. In your heart of hearts, can you look at the devastation this man has caused and not be moved to action?
You might believe that these protests and petitions about player safety and athletes getting away with sexual assault would be nonexistent if we were winning football games — well, you’re totally right. But dammit, that isn’t going to stop me from asserting that Brandon has been instrumental in debacles, debacles that strike the heart of the student experience.
Ticket prices have skyrocketed; Michigan Stadium has lost its traditional luster; our quarterback is wearing number 98.
This isn’t just about X’s and O’s.
Think of the pregames! How can we chug Crystal Palace at 8 a.m. when we’re expecting to lose? What motivation will we have to wake up from our naps and go to the bars?
What kind of example are we setting for the freshmen?
Last year, you gave an unheard-of $200 million to Michigan Athletics and the Business school, showing your deep commitment to athletes and future bankers of all creeds, colors and social classes. I ask you to stay steadfast in this commitment. We aren’t asking for money (though we kind of always are), we’re asking that you hear our pleas and take action. We have come together as proud Wolverines and marched, united in our outrage over a defining issue of our generation.
Mr. Ross, do what is right. Exercise your powers as granted to you by the Board of Regents, the Michigan constitution and most of all, by the number of zeros in your bank account. Fire the bad man who has single-handedly made all of our lives so miserable.
James Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.