Exactly one year after he took over as Michigan Athletic Director, Dave Brandon reaffirmed his primary goal for Michigan athletics: domination over Ohio State.
“I want to kick Ohio State’s ass,” Brandon said to roaring applause in the Ross School of Business Blau Auditorium yesterday.
Addressing about 70 students, Brandon spoke about issues ranging from his self-proclaimed “storybook” career to the future of the Michigan Football program.
Brandon began the conversation by pointing out that he was an unconventional candidate for the job of athletic director since he never meant to enter the business world to begin with.
A former Michigan football player, Brandon graduated from the University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in teaching. But his plan to go into teaching or coaching was never realized. Instead, he started working in business immediately after graduating college.
In an interview after his lecture, Brandon said his work in business has been rewarding, and he doesn’t regret abandoning his initial goal to go into the teaching field.
“I felt like I could always go back to teaching and coaching,” Brandon said. “I didn’t know that 30 years later I would still be in the business world, but I always felt that (teaching) was something I could go back to.”
However, Brandon said his job as athletic director incorporates many aspects of being an educator.
“I get to do a lot of interaction with students and trying to teach them lessons that I’ve learned,” Brandon said. “I’m not a coach, but I coach coaches. So I feel, to a large degree, (my career) has come full circle.”
In his speech, Brandon said he accepted his current job because of his long-time ties to the University.
“I took this job because Michigan opened up enormous opportunities for me,” he said.
Brandon pointed out how much he’s benefited from the University in the past, including receiving treatment as a prostate cancer patient. After an extensive search, Brandon said he decided to get treatment at the University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Nine years later I’m cancer-free, and I have the Michigan Cancer Center and the Michigan Department of Urology to thank for that,” Brandon said.
Brandon said it was a no-brainer to take a job working for the institution that had done so much for him.
Later, Brandon steered the focus of his discussion to the University’s Athletic Department, saying the program needs to generate revenue to continue to be self-sufficient.
“Our job is to generate the capital we need to improve and expand,” he said.
Fielding questions about the football program, Brandon said improving the team will also benefit the University as a whole.
“As Mark Twain said, ‘If you’re going to put all your eggs in one basket, you better watch your basket,’” Brandon said. “All my eggs are in the football basket.”
Measuring the success of the University’s athletic program against that of Ohio State’s is a primary motivation, he added.
“I want to get to the point that we’re not as good as them, but we’re better than them,” Brandon said.