Commentary

Brandon recruits good recruiters

Athletic director puts premium on coaches who attract quality athletes

Updated: June 19, 2012, 1:31 PM ET
By Michael Rothstein | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has never put a mandate on the character of recruits his coaches bring into the Wolverines' athletic program.

He has, though, explained the importance of finding recruits across all sports at Michigan who, along with having athletic talent, won't have much problem with either character or the classroom.

[+] EnlargeDave Brandon
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioMichigan AD Dave Brandon's most high-profile hire was football coach Brady Hoke.
"What I strive for and push our coaches to do is recognize the challenge of that and to find those unique individuals who can come to Michigan and be successful in both those important areas," Brandon said. "I believe our coaches right now are doing a terrific job with that. All our coaches."

In part, it is because of his vetting process when looking to hire coaches. Another part is how many hires he has had to make since taking over the position in March 2010. The most high-profile hire has been Brady Hoke, replacing Rich Rodriguez as the Wolverines' football coach.

That has been far from the only change. In the past two seasons, Brandon either has hired or is looking to hire new head coaches for nine of his 29 sports. Those hires usually receive a thorough background and human resources check from Brandon and his HR department.

But finding the right fit has always been important to him throughout his hiring process, be it at a major corporation such as Domino's Pizza or now at Michigan. The academic and character components are critical.

"It's an important aspect of who we hire. When I interview coaches, as we're doing now, I ask a lot about their philosophies and how they recruit, how they manage their team, and what kind of leadership style they bring as a coach to their sport," Brandon said. "I spend equal amount of time with what are the profiles of the kids they are trying to recruit, where are they recruiting them from, what do you find most important, and what kind of academic standards do you set for your team and individuals on your team.

"I spend a lot of time on those things, because if a kid can't be successful in the classroom at Michigan, you can forget about them making a significant impact athletically."

Brandon usually performs his background checks before a prospective coach arrives on campus, doing the usual prep work: talking to former players, assistant coaches and administrators who have worked or played with the potential hire. He also does a good amount of reading.

Then, when the prospective coach arrives on campus or at a neutral location for a formal interview, they usually meet with a slew of administrators and human resources personnel, each then filing their impression to Brandon. Part of the reason for doing that is to see how they interact with others in the department and also to see if the image portrayed in the background research matches the image in person.

Then Brandon makes a call whether to hire or move on.

As of now, Michigan is looking for a baseball coach and a women's swimming and diving coach, so the process continues to roll on.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter