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Tuesday, 31 August, 2010 0:02 AM

U-M Athletic Director David Brandon discusses the future of Michigan football

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Moderator Jim Brandstatter with U-M Athletic Director David Brandon at the Detroit Economic Club on Aug. 25, 2010.
by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In a sitdown chat sponsored by the Detroit Economic Club, University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon got intimate about the present and future of U-M football in the aftermath of venue updates. Among such statements, he confirmed the playing of the first night game at Michigan Stadium in 2011 against Notre Dame.

In January, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman announced that Brandon would take on the new position of the university's athletic director on March 8. He was most recently the CEO of Domino's Pizza before taking on the new role. Brandon stepped down as CEO of the pizza chain, but remains at the company as non-executive Chairman. Before that, he served as the former CEO of Valassis.

"I was fortunate, I got to a point where I had choices as to what I wanted to do with the last third of my career," he said. "The choices I had were not driven by economic reasons, they were driven by passion and love for doing something important. I love this place. This place has had a profound impact on my life as a student athlete here and getting a degree from this university."

The athletic director spoke about the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference.

"Bo would hate the idea that we let Nebraska into this conference," Brandon said. "My e-mail box when Nebraska was announced as the 12th team in the Big Team. We're going to divide into divisions and play the championship game. The favorability reaction to that was like 99 percent to one. The reality is you can't bring in a 12th team and incorporating a championship game without some changes occuring. Some compromises and changes are going to have to occur."

He stated he wants to keep the rivalry with Ohio State alive by playing the team at least once every year. If Ohio State is placed in a different division of the Big Ten than Michigan is in, it is possible for the two teams to face each other once during the regular season and then again during the championship game.

"One of the things that made that game so magical is that so many times that game came down to being the game that determined the Big Ten champion who went to the Rose Bowl," he explained. "That can't happen anymore. The champion who represents the Big Ten and who represents the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl is going to be that championship game. These protected rivalries are a real important thing. In some years, when we play for all the marbles, we'll play Ohio State twice."

The U-M Athletic Director said he stands behind head football coach Rich Rodriguez as the NCAA makes a decision on whether or not to punish the university. U-M's football program is accused of requiring its players to attend extra practices and using an excessive number of coaches.

"I represent this department, this community, if you're a leader, you step forward and take responsibility," Brandon explained. "I wasn't here when some of these things happened. The reality is i'm here now and in some cases, we were sloppy and we didn't do things as well as we should have done. Our chain of command broke down. There was just things we didn't do well. I fixed it, the issues we had. I can assure you those situations have been addressed."

On June 21, 2007, the Board of Regents approved a $226-million renovation and expansion project for Michigan Stadium (also known as "The Big House.") Improvements include new bleachers, widening of aisles, installing hand rails, adding a new press box, 83 luxury boxes and 3,200 club seats.

"We have been building since November 2007 and we're just finishing up this year," said Joe Parker, U-M's Senior Associate Athletic Director. "So we built throughout the 2008 season, the 2009 season. The approach has been to a hollistic renovation for Michigan Stadium. There's been improvements for every fan who experiences a game at Michigan. We had an effort to raise major gift dollars from people that had a passion for the university."

Before the renovations, MIchigan Stadium had a seating capacity of 107,501 people giving it the title of the largest football stadium in America. During construction, some of the bench seats were covered up to make way for handicap seating, which dropped the total capacity to 106,201. For a short period, Penn State's Beaver Stadium became the largest football stadium in the U.S. After renovations were complete, the new seating capacity of the Big House is at 109,901, enough to reclaiming the title.

"It is in fact, people continued to call it the Big House obviously," Parker added. "But as far as capacity wise, we are now the largest stadium in the country."

Michigan Stadium will host The Big Chill, an outdoor hockey game in which U-M will play Michigan State on Dec. 11, 2010. Over 100,000 tickets have already been sold and the event is expected to break the all-time attendance record for a hockey game in history. Ticket sales were stopped so that students would have an opportunity to purchase the remaining seats.

"It's been a great project and a team of people that have made it successful and we're excited to have people come in on Sept. 4 when we host the University of Connecticut," the senior associate athletic director said. "Everyone gets to experience it for the first time."

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The special meeting of the Detroit Economic Club took place inside the Junge Family Champions Center at Michigan Stadium.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Brandstatter with Brandon

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The presiding officer was Bill Popp, Vice President of Global Sales at Dell, Inc.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Brandon addresses D.E.C. members, guests and the media.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Brandon laughs after Brandstatter tells a joke.

 

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