I see a lot of unhappy people walking around Michigan’s campus lately. While some of that may be due to upcoming midterms, a lot of that has to do with the football team’s losing streak. Michigan is considered the “winningest” football team in college history. (“Wikipedia”) This is a title its fans take very seriously. After the Lloyd Carr years Michigan struggled with the newly hired coach, Rich Rodriguez. The most recent coach, since 2011 is Brady Hoke who fans have come to regard with an almost fanatic hatred.
I group up in Ann Arbor and was raised by a diehard Wolverine’s fan who didn’t even attend the school. I remember the sentiments that the townies have had towards these two coaches. “Rich Rod” generally was regarded with disdain and fans praised the decision to hire the current Hoke. Many believed that the football team would be brought back to its glory days of the Schembechler years. The hopes were high, especially when Michigan beat Ohio State. However, people are fickle and when a football team with Michigan’s prestige begins to lose nearly every game people are bound to go ballistic.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in class the other day that a light bulb went off in my head. We were talking about Machiavelli and what it takes to be a good Prince. Sports are kind of like politics. Dave Brandon, is kind of the Prince. Except, he’s a prince who doesn’t know how to be a very good one. Michigan’s recent luck in football may have everything to do with fortuna and Brandon can’t figure out how to roll with the dice given to him.
Brandon believes in running athletics like a business. This is all due to him being a businessman himself; he was formerly an executive of Domino’s Pizza. While he may have exercise “manly strength” as a leader should, he also lacks foresight and the ability to win over his people. I’m sure Brandon had no idea that Michigan would do so poorly in football or that Shane Morris would sustain a concussion that would go unnoticed by Brady Hoke. However, by being a leader it is his job to deal with the unpredictable. Machiavelli would not approve of Dave Brandon or his actions. Because it was his actions following the Shane Morris injury that would prove Brandon does not have the characteristics to maintain respect as a leader. He released a press statement at 1 in the morning, further incriminating himself and his ability to lead. He has alienated himself from the people so much by portraying himself as an arrogant, narcissist that he no longer has any desirable traits. Maybe he is all of those things, but part of being a successful leader is not showing them. Machiavelli believes that a leader should portray themselves as kind, humane, and faithful. (“The Prince”) While Machiavelli also believes that it is better to be feared than loved, that is hardly what has become of Brandon. Students and fans congregate in the hopes of getting him fired and recently a fan even changed his occupation on Wikipedia to “Pizza Delivery Man.” (“The Detroit News”)
Dave Brandon has raised millions of dollars for this University. Yet, his more noticeable contribution is the steep hike in ticket sales and the massive sports complexes he has built. He appears to have “dirty hands” when it comes to the Shane Morris incident as well. While he eventually came out in support of Brady Hoke, he still delayed making a press statement. All in all, he has portrayed himself as a poor leader. While Brandon has continuously justified his actions and policies over the years in an “the ends justify the means” attitude, there haven’t been tremendous results to justify anything.
Michigan needs to stand by their school, which cannot be done by boycotting the athletics department in any way. Where is our sense of nationalism? You cannot simply quit just because of poor leadership. Part of being in a strong nation is sticking with it even when the going gets tough. In turn, Michigan needs leaders who appear to have strong convictions, passion, and the ability to create a loyal following.