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Dave Brandon's new job gives UM budget a break

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Hackett on Jim Harbaugh: "I don’t think he sleeps."

Chicago – Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett said what he told the UM Regents in May would be a nearly $8 million budget deficit will be significantly lower than expected.

With the departures of athletic director Dave Brandon and football coach Brady Hoke, Michigan had significant buyouts, including $3 million for Hoke. Brandon was to receive $3 million over four years, but because he is now CEO at Toys R Us, Michigan's budget will get a break.

"There's some relief because Dave got a new job," Hackett said. "We weren't counting on that; we got that.

"The operations are really humming and, of course, the prospective football revenues – we get some of that ahead of the fiscal year because of seat licenses. Things are selling, donors went up. I'm humbled by it."

Hackett took over as interim athletic director after Brandon resigned at the end of last October. He has made some significant changes, most notably the hire of Jim Harbaugh as football coach, and most recently he negotiated the nation's most lucrative college apparel deal with Nike.

He is especially proud of Harbaugh and how he has affected change in the program.

"The impact is so much more than just economics -- just the standard that he's bringing." Hackett said. "Tweeting about academic performance. I've been watching the camps, how he's teaching the kids. He's a fantastic, inspirational guy. I see that all levels of the operation – he's a very inspiring guy on deeper missions about life, on self-improvement.

"There's a thing in business called marginal cost calculations. You'd say, if we could have saved more on his salary and not had as good a guy, what did it cost you? It's all the upside you wouldn't have gotten. So you see, it's almost insignificant to pay the extra money. That's a hard thing to tell your public because that means you save a million dollars.

"It's the notion of the leverage of all the good that can be done with that investment. I mean this sincerely -- it's an investment beyond the economics. It's the standard that's created of excellence that is invaluable. Every time I stick my nose into a sense of that, the robustness of it is really good. This is why I was happy and I'm even more delighted."

Hackett, who played football for Bo Schembechler, said he's enjoying watching how Harbaugh works, especially now as he starts narrowing his focus for the season. Michigan's camp opens next Friday.

"So now this is kind of game-face time," Hackett said. "How do we get ourselves ready for a season? You're going to watch a transformation now of one of the most competitive guys in the sport getting ready to compete. I have a deep respect for the focus that it takes to compete at this level. My goal is to keep our coaches not worrying about things except what they have to get done. I'm all about being an enabler in a good sense -- enabling focus. Let them focus on their craft. You're going to get to witness that. Jim (has been) up in his room (in Chicago) writing practice plans. He never stops. I don't think he sleeps."

Getting noticed

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was asked at the Big Ten media days Friday about what Harbaugh’s hire at Michigan does for the conference, which boasts top coaches in Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s a head-turning hire,” Delany said. “Jim has had great careers as a player and as a college coach both at San Diego and Stanford and then great success with the 49ers.

“So, you know, Michigan probably had the most consistent football program from 1984 to probably six or seven years ago. I think they’ve won eight or more games every year for 25-plus years, so I think it’s important for them to make a great hire. I think Jim is a great hire, obviously added energy and a proven record as a coach. For the University of Michigan, it’s probably a successful hire. If it’s successful for Michigan, I’m sure it will be successful for the Big Ten.”

Harbaugh on Hayes

There has been plenty documented about Harbaugh’s relationship with his Michigan coach, Bo Schembechler, but on Friday, he was asked his feelings about legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.

“Deep abiding respect and admiration as one of the greatest coaches that ever coached the game,” Harbaugh said. “I feel as well read on coach Hayes but also had the advantage of hearing a lot of stories about Woody Hayes from my dad, from other coaches who were friends of my dad’s and coached at Michigan for Bo Schembechler. If they were associated with Woody Hayes I asked them to tell me about Woody Hayes and what their relationship with him was like. I view him as one of the all-time greats.

“(He was a) tremendous football coach, a great presence and gift of personality. I loved the way he dressed, I loved his hat, the whistle around his neck, just a football coach. And when it came to principles there was a right and wrong, and he stood for things. He never wavered.”

Quotable

Michigan linebacker James Ross III on the crowd Harbaugh draws: “I’m not used to this. I’d probably characterize it as a circus.”