Title: Not a Michigan Man, but the Right Man
Michigan football is at a crossroads. Whether University President Mark Schlissel likes it or not, his choice for Athletic Director could very well be a decision that defines his tenure. I know that there are more important things to life than football, but as one who genuinely bleeds maize and blue, I’m hard pressed to find an activity I enjoy more than scaring the green people in East Lansing. It’s something that we Wolverines take so much pride in. By leaving the post of Athletic Director, Dave Brandon has shifted the spotlight from himself to Schlissel and now it’s shining brighter than ever. The former Brown provost, not even five months on the job, has his work cut out for him. His pick can both restore order and help us contend for national championship, or drop us deeper into the doldrums of college football purgatory. He must tread carefully.
When Dave Brandon hired Brady Hoke in 2011, much fanfare was made regarding Hoke’s previous ties to Michigan. Hoke served as part of Lloyd Carr’s staff from 1995 to 2002, carrying various titles like defensive line coach and assistant head coach. Students and alumni were cheering for Hoke. Former players like Tom Brady and Charles Woodson endorsed the pick. Everyone loved the Hoke hire. Especially the fact that he was a Michigan Man.
Let’s stop right there.
What exactly is a Michigan Man? Is it someone who has attended the University in a certain capacity or is it someone who shares the same beliefs and values as the University? Whatever it is, those that asked for Hoke’s hire are currently asking for his head. And those that asked for Rich Rodriguez, the previous head coach, to step down because of the lack of ties to the University, now wish he never left. By the way, Rich Rod is now 7-2 at Arizona with notable victories over California and Oregon. It burns doesn’t it?
Mediocre seasons like the current one and the past several give rise to a group of fickle fans and it is with this bandwagonnery (yes I made this word up) that I back President Schlissel in his decision to select the best person for the job of Athletic Director, regardless of previous ties to the University. Let’s face it. If Michigan football was 9-0 right now and in some parallel universe, Brady Hoke happened to have ties to OSU (my fingers won’t allow me to type out the full name), we would all be ecstatic. Also, just because you don’t have ties to the University doesn’t mean you can’t acquire them. President Schlissel at a recent press conference said,“Despite the fact that I’ve been here for only 110 days, I feel like a ‘Michigan Man’ already.” The wolverine nature can be learned. The belief in integrity and working for each other are some values one can learn by attending this University and embracing its culture.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that if another football player was chosen to lead this athletic program, nepotism has occurred and the end of the world is near. I am just asking that the person being chosen for the job be picked based on merit and experience and that he/she believes that Michigan football deserves to be in a much better place than it is today.
Michael Paul is an LSA junior.