Interview by Sam Webb. Story by Kyle Bogenshutz.
Donations poured in from all over the country during Sports Talk 1050 WTKA’s annual Mott Takeover Friday. Many of those that contributed to the nearly $80,000 raised for Mott Children’s Hospital haven’t experienced any direct benefit from the cutting edge research and care that takes place inside the state of the art facility, but their desire to help others… and maybe potentially themselves some day in the future compelled them to act.
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon knows firsthand just how suddenly the need for Mott’s life-saving expertise can hit.
“When our identical sons, Nick and Chris, were born they were born at a local community hospital,” said Brandon on WTKA. “Two minutes after birth it was very obvious there was very serious problems. One was in absolute crisis, the other one was iffy, and they were airlifted (to Ann Arbor) because the first thing I heard the doctor say after they were born, once he realized the problem, he said, ‘we got to get these kids to Mott.’ I think says it all because Mott is where you take these incredibly complicated, difficult problems that frankly a lot of other hospitals can’t handle. They are miracle workers there who know what to do. And in our case, the resident who met them when they arrived had just finished a research study, a multi-year study on the very rare problem that these identical twins were born with. He knew exactly what to do and he saved their lives.”
Heart-wrenching situations similar to the Brandon family’s battle happen every day at Mott. It’s why so many former Michigan athletes made their way to Ann Arbor and gave of their time over the past three days to raise funds for the hospital. It’s why Brandon went on the radio to talk about his experience. But the stories of medical triumph were only part of the programming. Much of the time was also spent on more light-hearted topics that would both entertain and inform the fans about their favorite team. One of those topics was alternate uniforms
It’s no secret the Michigan fan base has been split in its opinion on the uniform variations that were unveiled on a few special occassions last year. Brandon had a message for any fans that oppose the practice.
“I would say that in today’s world of contemporary football, the attitude of recruits and the attitude of the players is that they wear that uniform every day -- they love it,” Brandon stated. “They don’t want us to change the uniform, but once in a while changing it up is something they enjoy. They look forward to it, they’re excited by it and they enjoy it. And it’s a game about the players -- sometimes people forget that -- but I defer those decisions to our coach and to our players. I know Coach Hoke spends a lot of time with his senior leadership class. They discuss these things and I am absolutely aligned with whatever conclusion they make as it relates to the uniforms.”
Michigan will again wear commemorative uniforms next season, but the specific games they’ll be used in is not yet known. Brandon mentioned in recent days that the specifics of the uniform plans will be announced prior to the start of the season. When the jerseys are worn and which design is chosen are decisions Brandon makes in conjunction with Hoke and the players on the team. That said, the design of the jerseys is an aspect of the process none of them have a hand in.
“I know what I like and don’t like, but Adidas is in the business of designing uniforms and so typically what will happen is they’ll bring designs to us and most of the time we don’t like them,” Brandon said smiling. “But occasionally they’ll bring something to us that we think bears some consideration. Then we take it to the coaches and to the players and in some cases the players have said, ‘you know what, I don’t think we like that,’… and in other cases they love it. I would tell you that the locker room last year after that Notre Dame night game was pretty special. There was a lot going on in that locker room, as you can appreciate. And I went in there and the first guy I saw was Denard Robinson. He came up and threw his arms around me and said Mr. Brandon can I keep the jersey? To me that says it all… that was top of mind in the locker room and the first thing he wanted to ask me after that game. So to me it speaks to that notion that once in a while doing something different, something special, once in a while, is ok. And I’m fine with it if Brady’s fine with it.”
For video of Brandon at the M Den on State Street in Ann Arbor, click play below.