Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Losing To Utah - What's It Mean For Michigan?

You know it’s bad that you’re a Michigan Football fan when:

1.    Sparty acquaintances begin “pre-apologizing” for the ass kicking they are going to lay on you this year….

2.    People offer suggestions for replacement coaches and say that Dick Rod might come back if you ask him nicely… (When in doubt – make a Dick Joke.  -Robin Williams)

3.    People know you have season tickets and ask if you’re giving any away yet.

4.    Which they follow up with, “You know, seeing as how the school is giving them away I figured you might be giving them away, too.” – (Please see the “Buy a Coke and Get a Ticket” Campaign that the AD has now said has been pulled.  But anyone who managed to buy a coke and get the voucher will receive tickets!!!)

5.    Sparty and ohio fans claim they are taking up a collection and signing a petition to keep Hoke as Michigan’s head coach for the foreseeable future.

6.    “Hoke is the best defense you can have, as a Spartan!”  Sparty fan…
7.    “Relax, dude!  There’s only 8 games left…Chances are you won’t win 4 more and you’re season will be over in November!”

8.    Michigan memorabilia at Meijer’s and Wal-Mart is 50% off while the Sparty crap is still full price….

9.    People hand you a used head set as a joke….

10. When part of what they are offering to console you is, “Hey, come on man…It could be worse.  You could be Texas, Florida or….Va Tech.”

While those are mildly comforting words (The Texas and Florida thing – sorry Hokies…I really don’t know what to make of your situation), I’m really at a loss.  Growing up with the idea that Michigan Football would always “BE” was kind of a given.  I just never figured that Michigan would ever be a 2nd rate has been of a program, and yet, here we are.  Buy a coke and get free tickets:

Thirsty????  Buy a Coke and Get Tickets!!!

Of course….The AD immediately issued a statement stating in part that it was a “miscommunication” and that the promotion has immediately been pulled…. Yeah…probably right after the 100,000th ticket had been sold/given away in order to preserve the sell-out run….I’m sick and tired of crap like this….It has to end and firing Brandone would be a great start.  Then, whoever comes in, needs to offer up deep and heartfelt apology to all the fans….starting with a commitment to long standing season ticket holders that something….anything will be done to re-affirm our belief in the value in this whole thing.  Lower ticket prices and a reduction in the PSL would be a nice start.
So, do they both need to go?  Brandone and Hoke?  Let’s look at it:

The Case Against Dave Brandone

I don’t even want to get into what a complete and utter fiasco the Athletic Department has created with marketing gimmicks, cheap showmanship and outrageous ticket and concession prices.  But you know what?  I believe it’s time to put together a plan. 


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 25 years of the auto-business, it’s this:  IF you’re dealing with a great big pile of stinking shit, it’s there for one of two reasons:  There was some sort of unforeseen circumstance that created the big pile of shit, or, you’re dealing with a REALLY BIG ASS-HOLE that has “excreted” said pile of shit.  And if you have a big pile of shit, you can do one of two things:

1.    Find a better gig.  Leave the situation behind and move on. 

2.    Deal with the big pile of shit the best you can and hopefully get rid of the situation or the ass-hole that created it in the first place. 

Option 1 for Michigan Fans is obviously a no-go.  So, as a collective, we need to look at and begin to address option 2.  And seeing how Brandone’s favorite saying is,

 “Find something that isn’t broke and break it”,

I think we can all easily identify who’s heiney defecated this particular shit-pile.
In Brandone’s case, I believe – no, scratch that – I can offer enough performance-proof directly related to the head recto-cavity that would lead an objective or non-objective person to conclude that Michigan has, as the head of its Athletic Program, a huge problem that starts at the very top.

Case in point(s):

1.     Brandone, for reasons that were never really made clear but can easily be surmised, early in his tenure fired Jamie Morris from the Athletic Department for “questioning the AD’s decision making process and the handling the canning of Rich Rod and considering who should be contacted for Head Coach”.  I have mentioned before that when I heard Jamie had been canned, warning bells went off.  You would be hard pressed to find anyone truer to the program or Michigan Athletics than Jamie Morris.

2.    Brandone has raised ticket prices every single season in all revenue generating sports, as if that is the Athletic Department’s entitlement or COLA, without giving any thought what so ever as to what a 2% to 5% increase can do to the price of anything…Even Sail Boat Bill Martin understood that just because you can raise ticket prices, you shouldn’t always raise ticket prices.

3.    Brandone has “Banned” certain journalists from the Press Box and Press Conferences.  In particular John U. Bacon, after writing “3 and Out”, the Rich Rod Story, who by many is not only considered a friend of the Michigan Program, but who objectively looks at the “Michigan Condition” and comments frankly on it.  In my book, that’s called, “Being a Good Fan.”

4.    Brandone has surrounded himself with “Yes” men that have learned that it’s better to agree with “the Dictator’s” myopic ideas of what’s good for the athletic department vs. what’s good for the fans or the overall Michigan Athletic climate in general.

5.    As a result of #4, Michigan has joined the ranks of creating and deploying every marketing “gimmick” known to man, from the special uniforms “that were only going to be a 1 time thing” every season for a single game to having weddings or paid for events in the Big House.  People simply aren’t willing to stand up and say, “Hey, this isn’t a great idea” anymore.  They fear the Dictator.

6.    The quiet mass ticket dump of unsold tickets to charities through-out Ann Arbor and Michigan because tickets are so over-priced that any normal fan can go to any of the after-market locations and easily get an 80% discount.

7.    The “Groupon” ticket offer that included 4 cokes, t-shirts hats and other memorabilia….

8.    This gaffe, followed by the “miscommunicated” promotion of “Buy two Cokes, Get two tickets”.  Look, nobody printed those signs without some sort of authorization.  And that had to be discussed and that decision was made at the top.

9.    Instead of looking for ways to cut the athletic budget, Brandone continues to try to “keep up with the Jones” and increase the athletic budget every year, WHETHER IT MAKES SENSE OR NOT!!! SPEND IT OR LOSE IT is a private sector thought process.  It should not be an athletic department thought process.

10. As a result of 5 thru 9 above, the “Michigan Brand” has been destroyed.  While the Block “M” used to stand for excellence and integrity, it is now just another name in the corporate world that one associates a “value” with.  And frankly, that value is dropping like a rock.

11. Brandone continues to operate the Athletic Department as his “little Kingdom” without any oversight of…anyone at the University.  How can something that large be operated without oversight? 

12. Though not a result or measurable for Brandone, he has lost the regents, regardless of his take on the Fireworks vote and that “They have their opinion”.

There’s more… 

-running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists,
-Allstate field goal nets
-enormous macaroni sculpture
-seat cushions
-sky-writing over Spartan Stadium
-telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago

but do I need to go on?  Of Course, it begs the question:  

Would anyone care if Michigan were winning?

Yes…I get that winning cures a lot of ills.  But I’ve been bitching about Brandone for quite a while.  A long while.  And I want to believe that part of me would look at a lot of this and state, This is not the Michigan I know, and not only that, it’s not the Michigan I want to be part of.”  And while I agree I might not be as “VEHEMENT” in my statements to get rid of Brandon, I would be vocal never the less.  And losing does make the whole discussion easier and shines a bright light where, if there were 4 W’s in the column, well, it might be more of a pen-light….

Part of the reason I used to enjoy college football was I thought I was getting a deal.  I THOUGHT there was a mystique about it and it wasn’t the commercialized euphoria that is pro-athleticsI THOUGHT there was integrity and a sense of belonging to something bigger and somewhat exclusive.  Brandone has now turned it into another money grab that has completely turned this fan off. 

Is there or can there be any hope?  Gregg Hensonbelieves so and in the following articlecites sources as two journalists, an ex-Michigan Football Star and HUGE Donor.  Excerpts from the article (more or less the entire article, but you can click the link to read in its entirety):

The Michigan Board Of Regents is off the Dave Brandon bandwagon, change is inevitable and I am told it is “only a matter of time” before Dave Brandon is done as Michigan Athletic Director.  The Regents have tired of Brandon’s act and believe his aggressive marketing and “gouging” of the Michigan fan base has done extreme damage to the brand that has been so tenderly cultivated for the last 50 years.  The “free tickets” with a Coke disaster is the final nail, although I’m told Brandon’s fate was sealed long ago.

I’m told by three solid sources that the Board Of Regents is no longer in Dave Brandon’s corner and realize that Les Miles, Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh and any other credible coach will not come to Ann Arbor as long as Brandon is the Athletic Director.  None of the big name coaches will tolerate his meddling.  The Board of Regents understands that, if Brandon isn’t fired, Michigan won’t get the right coach to lead the Maize and Blue.  Dave Brandon only understands how to make money, he doesn’t understand how to do the other half of the job, hiring the right men to lead the Michigan athletic programs.  It’s the classic sales vs. product problem.  You can only market so much without a solid product, Dave Brandon is cooked.

My three separate sources tell me that the next domino to fall is Brandon.  He must go before any potential football coach can be approached as he totally botched the Hoke hire, never offering the gig to Miles or either Harbaugh.

The two names surfacing in the AD hunt are Ward Manuel the AD at Uconn and Brad Bates, the current AD at Boston College. Manuel was a HUGE Bo Schembechler recruit from New Orleans in the mid 80′s who injured his neck and retired from football as a Wolverine.  He spent many years in the Michigan Athletic Department after his injury and was highly regarded before he left for The AD position at University of Buffalo. The second name in the Michigan AD equation is Brad Bates, the current AD at Boston College. Brad Bates, who Bo Schembecher thought would make a great Michigan AD in “Bo’s Lasting Lessons,” leaves Miami (NTM) for Boston College, according to the BC school paper The Heights. Bates played under Bo from 1977 to 1981 as a walk-on DB.

If either one of these gentlemen is hired, the road to a Harbaugh gets much more probable.  Both Harbaugh brothers and Miles would take the Michigan job under the stewardship of Bates or Manuel, none of them would come to Michigan under Brandon.

As with anyone’s “Reporting” and this includes this Henson article, I can only say, take everything with a grain of salt.  But it’s hard to take pieces of a puzzle and put them together without at least some direction from someone.  So, while I agree it makes for great reading if you want Brandone gone, it may all be speculation on Gregg’s part after a “beer talk” with his sources. 

And talk of a coaching change are pre-mature, and any speculation of Harbaugh coming is just that - speculation at best.  This article being a perfect example (Clickthe link).  Yes, a 1-2 start sucks for Harbaugh, but it’s a long NFL season.  And Brandone is still here.

The Case Against Brady Hoke

This one is a little more obvious and probably needs a lot less discussion.  But, what the hell…Let’s discuss it anyway. 

With respect to what’s on the field:  There’s no identity to this team anymore.  Hell, even Rich Rod’s teams could at least hang their hat on the fact that, “Yeah, you might be able to score on us…Scratch that, you will score on us…We’re just going to score MORE!!!”  And you know what’s really sad?  I can actually point at and show how Rich Rod’s teams improved over his three years.  And Hoke’s best season was Year 1 with Rich Rod’s guys….

What does this team “have” as far as an identity goes? 

You certainly can’t identify with the Head Coach.  I like Hoke.  I really do.  But he’s not a guy I “Think” like.  I felt Lloyd Carr was a smart guy and a master motivator with the wry one-liners that were always timed perfectly.  I even liked the way Rich Rod thought on offense and the way he embraced the changes in the game.  You HAVE TO HAVE THAT as a head coach. 

Hoke says dumb things.  Telling the fans who don’t show up that they aren’t “Real Fans” is a shot in the gut for this fan.  I am a fan…There are plenty of days lately that I wish I wasn’t a Michigan Fan.  I wish, at times, that I was blissfully unaware of what is happening on Saturday afternoon around the college football world and I could live a normal life that didn’t depend on the outcome of games played in Ann Arbor.

But I’m not that person.  I do care and that’s what makes this so hard.  Watching this once great program get run into the ground by a coaching staff that says all the right stuff, but clearly is NOT LOOKING AT THE RESULTS OR THE EVIDENCE AS TO WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THINGS BETTER! 

Ignoring or dismissing the question over something as simple as the “Spread Punt”…Come on.  That’s like elementary school type crap.  EVERY MAJOR DIVISION 1 SCHOOL IS DOING IT…..What’s your excuse?  Not paying attention to details?

Isn’t there a stats person on this coaching staff?

I’m challenged with where to go with all of this.  Hoke, I believe, has to go.  Firing him mid-season accomplishes nothing…But may prevent further embarrassments.  How many more days like the domers and Utah can a true fan handle?  It’s getting a lot harder….

Almost impossible.

My greatest fear is that Hoke somehow manages to pull off some weird upset and then everyone says, “Well, he did beat X.  Give him another year.” And Brandone comes out prior to OSU with the slap on the back acknowledgement that "You're my guy..."

No.  This has to end.  It hasn’t felt right since U-Conn of last year and the objective data against Hoke is clear.  It needs to end.  4-8 in your last 12 isn’t good enough…not after 4 years…

Brandone and Hoke.   The same train…The same day. Am I being cold?  Maybe…

Somehow, Michigan is a 10 point chalk Saturday.  I’m not seeing it.  I don’t know how anyone can not think that Michigan and Minnesota are the same team.  Not much direction to right a sinking ship and decidedly dinosaurs when it comes to their approach of the game.  I predict a 2-0 final or perhaps a 2-2 tie that will lead to OT and forcing someone to score on offense.  And what’s worse:  I really do think the Little Brown Jug is in jeopardy of leaving Ann Arbor. 

And that’s just wrong.  But it will get us all, collectively, closer to an end that will start, hopefully, another “Bright Beginning…”

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