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April 27, 2010

Brandon says U-M has corrected mistakes

Michigan athletic director David Brandon told radio host Doug Karsch Monday night that he's learned "a lot" about how the NCAA has handled cases similar to U-M's, but didn't go into detail. U-M is in the process of responding to alleged major violations regarding practice time and plans to meet the May 24 deadline.

"We're going to learn from our mistakes -- we've already corrected mistakes," Brandon said, noting the department has already implemented new policies. "We've been very public about our response on these issues and we're moving forward, and we'll get through this process. We'll move forward and we'll move on.

Brandon said he told Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman when he was hired that he was a "change guy," not satisfied with the status quo. He's proven it with several moves in the first few months of his tenure, including scheduling U-M's first home night game with Notre Dame in 2011.

Brandon touched on a number of subjects in his one-hour interview. Here are his responses:

On the 2010 football team's potential: "I've been out to several practices this spring. From one guy's opinion, I've seen a few football teams, been to a few practices and even been on the field for a few, and I can say we have a much better, stronger, team. These young guys are still young, but they're not as young as they were a few years ago. They're stronger.

"Our skill position players - some of them are just amazing with the speed with which they play the game and the skills they have, and I think we're going into the season with a much stronger, better team. But you've got to play the games, right? Coming off the two years we've had, we've got to improve at a faster rate than our competition. Bo [Schembechler] always said you can't stay the same, you either get better or you get worse, so we've go to get better and got to get better at a faster rate than the other guys are getting better for us to get to the level we all want to be at. That's going to be the real test for our team."

Brandon wouldn't say what he was looking for this season [and beyond] other than improvement over last year's five-win total.

"My job is to measure that improvement and make sure it's adequate for what we need to do to get our football program to where we want it to be," he said. " That's what I'm going to do."

On possible expansion: "The Big House can get bigger -- there's always a possibility of that. There are a lot of things we can do. When you look at the design of the stadium and where we're at [following the recent renovation], there's a lot of flexibility for us and we look years into the future."

Brandon said he's seen plans but has not given much thought to how big he would like the stadium to be. He also talked about upgrading the stadium scoreboards for high definition and other improvements.

On overwhelming ticket sales for The Big Chill hockey game at Michigan Stadium in December between Michigan and MSU: "The response we've gotten is incredible. We're at like 85,000 [tickets sold], and we all know that's already beyond the world's largest crowd to watch a hockey game. We're not quitting here -- we're just getting into this, [but] I'll be really disappointed if we're not in triple figures [in attendance]."

On working to sell out the new suites: "One of the things we believe will really help us is now we have product to show people. Before it was drawings and sketches, and now we'll take you up there and you can see what those things are like. They're really well done and really a wonderful experience for people who want that on gameday.

"We hope -- and we started this with the spring game -- that as we get more and more people to go up and see what it's like and see what comes along with that package that we do a good job of continuing to sell them."

On advertising in Michigan Stadium following the PNC Bank sponsorship of the spring game: "The fact that there were a few banners to give credit to the sponsor who gave money to the children's hospital didn't bother me, and I didn't hear that it bothered anybody else. I got one letter, and the concern was this was some kind of a precursor to what we're going to do in the fall. Trust me when I tell you, in the fall when we're charging people to get in the stadium, we're putting on our normal event. We do not intend to have any sponsors in the stadium. That's a tradition we continue to hold."

On conference expansion: "Anybody that comes up with a plan that says Michigan shouldn't play Ohio State should be institutionalized. That's one I can probably carve out and say, 'that's a deal stopper.'"

Brandon added he wasn't sure what form expansion would take and had no idea of Notre Dame's plans with regard to joining the Big Ten.


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