In today’s college football scene, the structure resembles that of a monarchy. The athletic director and coaching staff act as the monarchs, controlling the program and attempting to become the most powerful. Meanwhile, the thousands of screaming fans are the subjects over which these monarchs rule. The subjects allow for their monarchs to preside over them, through good times and bad. However, if the situation gets rough enough, this is when a revolution may occur. When analyzing Michigan’s football program against Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, many parallelisms become evident.
At the beginning of the year, Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke were the monarchs who presided over the “nation” that is the Michigan fan base. On page 79, Burke states that a monarch is a servant to the people, but at the same time above the masses. This is true because Brandon and Hoke were trusted to run the football program, making them a servant of the student body, alumni, and other fans, yet putting them a step above everyone else. This first parallel can be seen between Burke’s writing regarding kings and the Michigan football program’s “kings”. As many people know, one things is bound to happen when subjects are unhappy with their king; revolt.
Revolt occurred earlier this year in the form of protest and outcry against Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke. One protest calling for the firing of Dave Brandon occurred on the diag following the way Shane Morris’s head injury was dealt with. It was a well-known fact in Ann Arbor that the subjects wanted their monarchs to be removed.
On October 31st, Dave Brandon resigned as athletic director, marking the first usurping on a Michigan monarch. Some people felt bad that he was so heavily pushed to resign, especially after his issuing of an e-mail to athletes at University of Michigan. This message made more people feel guilty since Brandon appears as a genuinely good person in the letter. Burke also addresses this point. On page 128, he states that the murder of a king is no more than that of an ordinary citizen, and it should not be punished any more heavily than ordinary homicide. He also states that it is perhaps justifiable. Although Dave Brandon was not literally murdered, his existence as a leader in the Michigan athletic department was destroyed. Even though the type of personal backlash he experienced was not necessarily right, it was justifiable. Despite him being a likeable person, he needed to be removed. Nobody should feel badly for how his career ended, it is merely an occupational hazard according to Burke.
With one of the two kings gone, and the second one likely to follow, many believe the program is going to get immediately better. However, Burke would suggest otherwise. A dire parallel between France and Michigan comes in page 88 when Burke claims “revolutions destroy the fabric of old society”. He talks of other nations already having new government laid out, or having a steady old-government in place. One may ask, who are the nations in relation to the University of Michigan? The answer is frightening; Ohio State and Michigan State. These teams already have a stable leadership, and it continues to get stronger. With us getting a new core of leaders, nothing is really figured out, so we are even more vulnerable than ever. The program is likely to get worse before it gets better, so Burke would probably suggest that the worst is yet to come.
While nobody can promise our football team is headed to even harder times, nobody can guarantee success either. The future is unknown. With Dave Brandon gone, and Brady Hoke likely to follow, our monarchs have fallen and a new leadership is due. To quote Burke, “From that moment we have no compass to govern us; Nor can we know distinctly to what port we steer”. Our direction is not defined, so all we can do is keep faith, continue hating Michigan State, and until our time comes, go blue!