Brian Cook’s remarkable obituary for the sad, sorry Dave Brandon era at Michigan is definitely worth your time to read, but there’s one part in particular I want to highlight.
If Dave Brandon’s off-the-wall head coaching choice had turned out to be Nick Saban 2.0, fans would have allowed Brandon to ritually flay them on the Diag if he so desired.
But you know who isn’t being chased out of his job? Jeremy Foley. The guy who hired Ron Zook and Will Muschamp. Florida football is currently at an unwatchable nadir, just like Michigan, and Florida fans got a ‘Bama acolyte with three reasonably successful years at Colorado State with a high chance of failure. Dan Mullen is not the next guy because he doesn’t get along with the AD. Foley’s pursuit of Jim McElwain was hilariously public, committing Florida to a middling hire with a huge buyout by ignoring realities of the Flight Aware era. Florida fans are not marching on the president’s house in protest of this fact. At most they grumble a bit.
Why? Well, hiring coaches is hard. Foley’s had some successes; he’s had some failures. But one thing he has not done is drag a proud institution through a cycle of blame, incompetence, and recrimination. One day after Treon Harris came off the bench to beat Tennessee, he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation. Florida delayed its Monday press conference, released a forthright, transparent statement, and kept everyone up to date as the investigation progressed. There were no explosive revelations five days later. Nor were there marches.
That takes a special kind of incompetence, the kind of incompetence it takes to get run out of town on a rail as an athletic director. I cannot recall another incident like it. In this, at least, Brandon’s certainty that he is a unique individual is correct.
If you’re an AD and make mistakes – and let’s face it, even the best ADs are human – own up to them. You work at a public institution and you answer, at least in part, to a fan base that you raise money from, and, accordingly, expects some answers about how you operate. Winning at a very high level quiets the questioning. Arrogance when your program isn’t all that is a path for, well, eventually being run out of town on a rail.