It was only a matter of time. College football and basketball have become commodities to be consumed by viewers on TV and for a privileged few to view at the stadiums. Big time University programs obsesses over "branding" and spend ten of thousands of dollars on refining their product; targeting their "demographics" (almost never students by the way since they buy so few tickets or products) and working with "sponsors" to give them product placement at games.
CEO of Domino's Pizza to run their athletic department.
Now the University can utilize all the techniques of selling pizza to sell their football and basketball (and hockey since this is Michigan) programs. Brandon actually did some fun commercials, and one thing Dominoes has attempted lately is running commercials that admit their short comings and turn this into challenges to improve quality.
Well he has his hands cut out at Michigan given the festering Rich Rodriguez football mess, the lingering scandals and mediocre basketball teams of recent years. And will somebody figure out how to beat Ohio State, I mean, come on! The once proud Michigan brand, much like Domino's, has fallen on hard times. Maybe a brand expert and pizza seller is what the program needed.
To be fair, appointing a CEO who is taking an 80 percent salary cut and is doing the job out of love and passion, illuminates another trend. A number of college presidents have grown increasingly disenchanted with the professional pool of athletic directors and the career path many of them follow. The path itself is fraught with multiple role demands from fund raising, to hiring coaches, to managing complex physical plants to being a public spokesperson to managing crisis to actually paying attention to the academic welfare of student athletes. The job, like the university presidency, has become almost impossible. Many university presidents are looking outside the traditional pool of candidates, sometimes it works, sometimes it fails.
One of Brandon's true attractions is that his a a "Michigan man." This means a Bo Schlembechler clone, sort of. He is demanding, hires well and has a finely tuned sense of the integrity and trusteeship of the University (he served a a University trustee), This makes the appointment intriguing because it brings in an outsider who is also an insider. Michigan has gone this route before when President Lee Bollinger hired real estate mogul Bill Martin to serve as AD. Brandon's tenure will be engrossing as a portent of the future, a fascinating experiment and an ironic and sad commentary upon the state of big time college sports.
pictures courtesy of AnnArbor.com &and Domino's Pizza