The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 59 "I had to get to sleep," Madej recalled. "No- body would stop calling me. I literally put the answering machine on, for it to automatically pick up. I said: 'If this is a media call, if you're calling about this, the University of Michigan has no comment. We'll get back with you in the morning.' Then I gave everybody Frieder's statistics and all that stuff. "The next morning, I wake up and [WJR's] J.P. McCarthy is on. He said: 'There's a lot of news coming out of Ann Arbor.' I'm laying back thinking, okay what news is he going to have? "'We couldn't get a comment from the ath- letic department, but Bruce Madej, the sports information director, has this on his phone.' They replayed my message, and in this, I started off: 'I think I know what you want, but I'm tired. I've got to get to bed.' "My wife, Suzette, says: 'Is that our an- swering machine on WJR this morning?' Ah … yep." It got even more interesting in the morning. Madej knew he had to go see Schembechler, and the AD was poised and waiting. "Bo is in the window," Madej said. "He's standing there, and I'm walking. He sees me, and starts motioning me in with his finger. "He says: 'What the hell happened?' I said: 'Bo, this is what I know. We've got to get the coaches in here to find out what's going on. "He said: 'I told them to get in here. They're going to be in here right away. But before that … what was that on the radio this morning? I'm tired … I've got to get to bed …' "In the middle of one of the most chaotic moments in Michigan history, Bo is doing this, and I'm just shaking my head. He's laughing his tail off at this. It was classic." An Eyes-Forward View Madej can spin the stories all day, including the self-deprecating ones. He's plenty proud, though, of what Michigan accomplished dur- ing his years at the PR helm, including all the breakthroughs listed before, Michigan's own sports television show that ran for a decade, and countless other endeavors. He always felt he was at his best when in crisis mode, such as the Michigan basketball scandal. "If you've got a bad story, don't hide behind something," he insisted. "Tell it the best way you can, to help the athletic department or whatever organization. Just remember this: you don't want to make a bad story into a week-long story. You want to get it done in one or two days. "If you're up front and honest about it, you can do it. If people trust you, you can do it. I got a lot of trust from people, and that's be- cause I handled things honestly. It's a lot easier to tell people the truth. It's easier all the way around." He recalled university president Mary Sue Coleman putting him in charge of the media regarding the Ed Martin situation, above the public relations people of the university at large. He worked closely with Marvin Krislov, Michigan's legal counsel, in making certain all the legalese and public relations talk meshed. He's also been blessed through a host of relationships, Madej assured. "Probably one of the greatest relationships I have is with Red Berenson," Madej noted of the U-M hockey coach. "The guy is one of the best, from A to Z. He has uncompromised integrity. That's what was great about Bo, and is great about Red. Hutch [Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins] is like that. "I haven't gotten to know John Beilein as well, but John always comes up and says hi to me. I know Brady. I liked Rich [Rodriguez]. Lloyd [Carr] and I got along really well, and Mo [Gary Moeller] might be my favorite coach of them all. "Bo was not always the easiest guy to work with as a coach. Bo and I got along one heck of a lot better after he retired." He's grateful for many others, whose names don't pepper the headlines. He cited sports information personnel such as Dave Ablauf, Tom Wywrot, Barb Cossman and a host of others, some who have long since moved on — Amy Carlton to serve as a con- ference commissioner, Bill Wickett to become vice president of the Tampa Bay Lightning, intern Tim Frank, who became vice president of communications for the NBA. Senior administrative assistant Tara Preston kept him straight as well, Madej acknowledged. "If I didn't have Tara Preston … I'd have been dead in the water," he said. "She's bril- liant. She's so organized, and I needed some- body organized. I needed somebody to point me in the right direction, and she did it." Now, he says, it's all eyes forward. "I've always wanted to do something in the twilight of my career," Madej said. "I have too much gas in the tank to say I'm done. I want to do things where I'm in control of my time, and things where I can have some fun. "That's the problem. I'm like a kid in a candy shop right now. I've really found myself to have a good idea of what is necessary in so- cial media. I really enjoy that. I enjoy content. I enjoy journalism. I enjoy the public relations aspect." Madej always waved off reporters talking about streaks, he recalled, insisting it's the next game that counts. "That's the same thing in life," he assured. "It's the next event, the next fun portion of your life. As long as I can have fun with it … and now I'm at that point in my life where I can have fun with it." ❏ "I'm going to miss working with a group of people that I've had a lot of fun with. I'm going to miss the coaches — I've had great relationships with them. I'm going to miss the equipment managers, the trainers, the PR staff. I'll miss the people." MADEJ Madej (second from the right) — seen here with his football press box staff in 2009, (left to right) Art Parker, Dave Ablauf and Ken Collica — cherishes the relationships he built during his time at U-M. PHOTO COURTESY BRUCE MADEJ 54-59.Retiring Legends.indd 59 6/18/14 3:52 PM

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