Winning not enough for Falcons to keep Brandon


BOWLING GREEN - Gregg Brandon became head football coach at Bowling Green at the start of the 2003 season. The Falcons are 44-30 since, including 31-17 in Mid-American Conference play, and none of the league's other 12 teams has matched or bettered those numbers over that time frame. BG also is the only MAC team since '03 to have a winning record in non-league play.

Those are the little snippets you find in a school's weekly game notes prepared for the media. In fact, it was all right there in the BG notes on Friday, although we've taken the liberty of updating the records in light of the Falcons' subsequent 38-10 romp past archrival Toledo.

Not such a big deal was made of all that yesterday in a midafternoon press release sent by BG officials to announce Brandon had been fired.

Very interesting. V-e-r-y interesting.

Although the 2008 season, which ended 6-6, was definitely frustrating and disappointing for a team expected to win a MAC divisional title, BG could not very well fire Brandon for losing. Could it? Not with his aforementioned record. Not a year after he led the Falcons to a bowl game. Not some 10 months after giving him a contract extension through the 2011 season.

Contracts, of course, are disposable. Might as well be written on toilet paper. If somebody wants to get you, they'll get you. Athletic director Greg Christopher is the "somebody" in this case. He giveth the extension and he taketh it away.

It will cost $250,000 to separate Brandon from his contract. Christopher made it clear at a press conference last night that the money will come not from student fees but from athletic department fund-raising and marketing revenues. Translation: Someone whose wardrobe features orange and prefers his tailgate fare served on fine china will write a check.

So be it. Coaches come and go. At least one-third of the MAC's teams will have new men at the helm next fall. Toledo will replace Tom Amstutz after a third straight losing season bottomed out at 3-9. Shane Montgomery went 2-10 at

Miami. Jeff Genyk won 13 games in five years at Eastern Michigan. And, then, there is Gregg Brandon who, well, pretty much won a bunch of games.

So why was he fired?

According to Christopher, the underbelly of the Falcons' program is wallowing in the muck. OK, those are my words, not his. But he at the very least inferred it.

He said too many players' names have showed up in the police blotter, several of them in regards to a well-publicized home invasion. The BG athletic director made public for the first time that the Falcons "have lost and will be losing" football scholarships because of NCAA academic progress penalties. He cited attrition, and research by my colleague, Ryan Autullo, indicates 31 of the 71 players recruited by Brandon and his staff from 2005-07 are no longer with the program.

Christopher wouldn't say the program was out of control, but when asked what he would be looking for in a new coach, he said, "It starts with character."

You can read into that whatever you choose.

But it'll surely fire up Brandon, who has been known to wear his emotions on his sleeve and shoot from the hip. The coach was not at the news conference, although a BG media relations staffer said Brandon may wish to speak at a future date. Set your alarms for that one.

We did have a short phone conversation yesterday and Brandon took the high road. He said he was disappointed, but wished his players the best and said, "I truly enjoyed my six years as the head coach at Bowling Green."

This may surprise you. Christopher said Brandon's loud criticism of BG fans after the ill-attended Buffalo game nine days ago was mere "noise in the system and not why we're sitting here."

That's because the decision was made long ago, he said, back around the time the Falcons dropped home games to Eastern Michigan and Miami.

In fact, Christopher said it was "tough to say" if he would have changed his decision had the Falcons avoided a fourth-quarter collapse against Buffalo, followed with the win at Toledo, and then headed for the MAC championship game and an automatic bowl berth.

Brandon might still have been fired?

"It's possible, yeah," Christopher said.

I don't believe that, but it perhaps illustrates how adamant Christopher was that BG needed to make a change. So he fired the most successful coach in the MAC over the past six years. Winning, apparently, isn't everything.