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Published: Sunday, 11/30/2008

BGSU fires Brandon day after win over UT

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
BGSU coach Gregg Brandon, right, shakes hands with UT coach Tom Amstutz after the Falcons' Friday night win. It was the last game for both coaches, as Brandon was fired yesterday. BGSU coach Gregg Brandon, right, shakes hands with UT coach Tom Amstutz after the Falcons' Friday night win. It was the last game for both coaches, as Brandon was fired yesterday.
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BOWLING GREEN - As it turned out, Friday's football game at the University of Toledo's Glass Bowl was the last for two coaches.

Gregg Brandon was fired as coach of Bowling Green State University yesterday morning, just hours after the Falcons defeated rival Toledo 38-10 to end their year with a disappointing 6-6 record. It also was the final game for UT coach Tom Amstutz, who announced his resignation weeks ago.

BGSU Athletic Director Greg Christopher said "an accumulation of things" both on and off the field went into his decision to fire Brandon, who accepted a three-year contract extension in February.

"There have been some off-the-field things that I think ultimately have impacted what's happened on the field," Christopher said at a news conference last night at Anderson Arena.

In six seasons as head coach of the Falcons, Brandon went 44-30 overall and 31-17 in the Mid-American Conference. His winning percentage (64.6) in the MAC is the best of any league coach since 2003.

Under Brandon's watch, BGSU played in three bowl games and in the 2003 MAC championship. Despite having 17 seniors back from last season's 8-5 team, BGSU did not live up to preseason expectations of contending to win the MAC East. The Falcons finished 4-4 in the MAC despite holding fourth-quarter leads in each defeat. Losses at home to Eastern Michigan and Miami were "the tipping point" for Christopher as those teams finished the year a combined 5-19.

"The period of time where I really started having serious concerns that we were headed in this direction was probably in the window of the Eastern Michigan and Miami games," Christopher said.

BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher said a variety of factors, on and off the field, led to the decision to fire Gregg Brandon despite giving him a three-year extension in February. BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher said a variety of factors, on and off the field, led to the decision to fire Gregg Brandon despite giving him a three-year extension in February.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Christopher said he was disappointed in, but did not base his decision on, Brandon's criticism of BGSU fans for poor attendance in the Falcons' 40-34 double-overtime loss to Buffalo on Nov. 21 at Perry Stadium.

"I'm obviously disappointed with the decision," Brandon told The Blade in a phone interview. "I want to wish the best to my players who always played their hearts out for us, particularly [Friday night] against Toledo."

Brandon's firing comes after he signed a three-year extension in February through the 2011 season. He was paid $250,000 this year, which was the final year on his previous deal that he signed after the 2004 campaign. Brandon was to receive a $5,000 increase in each of the three years of his new contract.

"It is a little unusual, it's not unheard of, but ultimately I was faced with what's going to be the best long-term for Bowling Green State," Christopher said of firing a coach who has yet to work under a new contract.

Brandon's buyout clause of $250,000 was paid for through fund-raising and marketing revenue, according to Christopher.

Junior receiver Chris Wright said he was surprised by the news but understands someone needs to be held accountable for the team's rough season.

"Our season obviously didn't go the way we would have wanted it to," Wright said. "There were key games that we should have won that we didn't win. Some people may think it was due to coaching, some may think it was due to players. Either way, we're a team and we're together."

Brandon spent two years as BGSU's offensive coordinator before replacing Urban Meyer as head coach to start the 2003 season. In his first two seasons at the helm, Brandon led the Falcons to marks of 11-3 and 9-3, ending each year with a bowl victory. But in the last four years , Brandon was just 24-24 and had one bowl appearance - a 63-7 loss to Tulsa in January's GMAC Bowl. It was the largest margin of defeat in the history of bowl games.

Eleven players have fallen into legal trouble since then, and two former players were arrested on drug trafficking charges, although one was acquitted. Christopher said nine scholarships have been revoked from the program by the NCAA because of inadequate scores on the Academic Progress Report that will be released this spring.

Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg contributed to this report

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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