Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring Game Attendance – Do You Think "Dollar Bill" Dave Is Getting The Message?

Please consider the following figures:

Anyone know what those figures have in common?  They are all spring game attendance figures from what are considered to be four of the top football programs in the B1G conference – East Division
One program has a brand new head coach that’s from the “area” albeit not from the University itself and they are happy to have him and turned out in droves to show their support.  Another program allows alumni to come back and draft players and have a “real” game for some internal bragging rights and also generate fan interest.  The third program is still glowing in the aftermath of an outright B1G Championship and Rose Bowl victory…. And the other program is stuck in the mud with no clear direction….of anything.
Enough with the suspense:  PSU had 72K, OSU had 61K, Sparty - 35K  and Michigan had 15K.  Now, a lot of that could be attributed to the fact that ohio was knocked out of the NCAA’s in the first round and PSU didn’t even make the NCAA’s so there were a lot of fans ready to get “on with the next sport” at those Universities.
But Michigan used to draw 25K-50K depending on the weather and the weather a couple of Saturdays ago was not that bad…yes, a little cool…But not that bad.  Could it be that the next generation of Michigan football fans are starting to look at their collective elders and state, “What, EXACTLY, are you so excited about?  Michigan hasn’t mattered in the Big 10 Championship race for the last 10 years."  (Okay, I’ll give you the incredible 2006 season – but they still didn’t win the B1G and they didn’t win a bowl either).
Could it also be that the next generation isn’t as starry eyed as their elders and are just getting a little fed up with this team and the way the program has developed since the last years of Lloyd Carr? 
Could it be that all the fans who loyally go to the games on Home Saturdays in the fall are aware of what they are looking at on the field and wondering why on Earth they should renew their season tickets to the tune of $455 per ticket for 8 home games that are on the surface, painful.  And that schedule makes you wonder why you're spending good, hard earned entertainment budget money on the 2014 Season Tix much less go to a spring game?
Could be all those things…But I’m sure Brandon won’t see it that way. Dave’s too worried about what and how he’ll spend all of this early season ticket money that he’s receiving (almost 5 months in advance in today’s electronic age) and a lot of it is NOT earmarked for the betterment of the student athlete.
In just four years, the athletic department’s budget has expanded from $100 million to $137 million dollars – and that does not include the $340 million earmarked for a new building master plan. This rapidly growing empire could be threatened by a perfect storm of a bad record, skyrocketing ticket prices, and next season’s horrible home schedule.
This brings up two questions: How do they increase the budget by 37-percent? And where do they spend it?
First, Athletic Director Dave Brandon pushed aside faculty control. Michigan’s Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics didn’t even know he planned to promote Michigan’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams to varsity status – at a cost of over $3 million year — until the day before it was announced. But that’s one day sooner than they hear about large hikes in ticket prices, and just about everything else the athletic department is doing.

Michigan’s late athletic director, Don Canham, wrote in 2005 that without faculty control, athletic directors have virtually no restraints. “What $70-million dollar business could conduct business without a board of control?”

The athletic department needed to find new sources of revenue, and squeeze more money out of the old ones. To do so, it has tripled the size of its development staff, and pumped the prices of tickets and “seat licenses” by roughly 30- to 50-percent, or about $100 per seat. The athletic department now charges $9,000 for corporate events in the stadium skyboxes and $6,000 for a one-hour wedding reception on the 50-yard line. They even charge school kids for tours, which Michigan had always provided for free.

When former athletic director Bill Martin told me, “Just because you can charge them more, doesn’t mean you should,” he sounded like somebody who had retired thirty years ago, not three.

Add it all up, and the department will not just cover its expanded $137 million dollar budget, it will show a nearly $9 million dollar budget surplus.

So, where does all this money go?

Staff salaries, for example, have grown from $34 million to $49 million under Brandon, including a 62-percent increase in administrator compensation. The athletic department’s spending on “Marketing, promotions and ticketing,” and “Professional travel and conference dues,” have tripled to almost three million. But perhaps most surprising is the $2.6 million the department now spends on “Hosting, Food and Special Events,” an increase of almost 500-percent.

In other words, the additional millions the fans are now being forced to pay are not going to the students on the field, but the suits in the building – including almost a million dollars a year for the Athletic Director himself, three times the salary of his predecessor.

“Look into how much is spent on marketing, then look at how effective it is,” Martin told me. “You don’t have to do marketing at Michigan. We have the fans. We have the support. We have a great reputation. All you have to do is win. If you win, they will come. You just need to make it as affordable as possible for your fans.”

You could assume from all of this that I have an issue with Dave Brandon and his record to date.  You'd be correct in that assumption.  He's reached "Sailboat Bill" proportions and has now earned the nickname "Dollar Bill Dave"....In reference to how he can squeeze one more dollar from your wallet each and every time you visit Ann Arbor. 
I would suggest you read the entire blog entry for all the information.
Still Encouraging Cheating Update
In case you haven’t heard, the SEC has decided to maintain an 8 game league schedule that will more or less keep cross conferencematch-ups down to a minimum.
Even with 9 games as most every other B1G conference has adopted, the cross-conference games with all league opponents ends up sorting itself out to a twice a decade game with your cross-division opponents.  In the 8-game league schedule, Alabama and Florida can go up to 12 years without playing each other and will probably only play each other twice every 20 years.  That’s no longer a league or a rivalry but a league within a league that has an occasional game with someone they might remember from years gone by.
But Alabama fans can certainly get used to seeing the University of Southern Louisiana State every season…Yeah, that’s great. 
So, the SEC has more or less insured its top teams of 4 wins every season in addition to getting away from some of the toughest intra-league games and also providing either the East or the West champion of a decent shot of an undefeated (or 1 loss) season and a spot in the national title discussion – especially in a 4 team play-off.
And the NCAA doesn’t seem to give a crap about that….Not that there’s anything the NCAA can do about that particular issue, anyway.  And the other conferences of course cannot tell the SEC how to conduct business.  But the NCAA could at least frown upon it and make a public statement that in the interest of fairness and spirit of competition, the SEC adopt a 9 game league schedule…
Of course, that would mean that the NCAA has a clue.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Well, This Sucks....McGary Gone

In case you haven't heard or haven't been following along:

Mitch McGary declares for NBA Draft due to a failed drug test administered by the NCAA.  The drug was marijuana - which, that gives him some sort of  athletic competitive edge? - and he would have been forced to sit out a full season on top of the season he already sat out.

mgoblog.com runs it all down pretty well here and so does mgoblue.com in the side bar.

My Take:  Well - That's  - Fantastic..NOT.  First, I get that kids are going to be kids and I lived in Ann Arbor where the funny stuff appeared at more parties than you could count.  I would imagine there were contact highs for everyone who attended some social function at Michigan.  Not only that, but it's a misdemeanor in Ann Arbor and 17 states have already legalized it and we are probably going to see weed legal in the US within the next 5-10 years. 

But the NCAA is banning kids for an entire season for smoking?  Really?  And 3 Beer Floydd and others who get stumbling drunk don't get any kind of NCAA punishment for underage drinking????  In fact, I didn't even know a NCAA punishment existed for smoking dope...So, I've been edumacated....

Michigan fought it and appealed, but the NCAA isn't going to let up. It would appear that the NCAA just wants to screw up any possibility of producing a better kid (and better college basketball product) in the process...


Good Luck McGary and we wish you well.  I will now be left to wonder forever what could have been?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Basketball Transfer, Princess Lacey and About That Spring Game

Basketball Wrap and….Uh-Oh

Before I officially hang up the MMPG hat, there’s a couple of things you need to know:
Under the heading of Whiskey – Tango – Foxtrot:  Horford has applied for and received arelease in order to transfer…See all the details at mgoblog.com.  My reaction – I don’t get it.  They guy is blossoming in this offense, has one season of eligibility left, and wants to leave what could potentially be a Final 4 team next year to go where….Florida?  Good luck and godspeed…I guess….
Princess Lacey - Rest In Peace:  I have to admit that even an old, hardened Maize and Blue Heart was greatly saddened when I learned that Adrien Payne's friend passed away on Tuesday...Payne and his journey with Lacey that was very well chronicled on the BTN made it hard for me to not root for the Spartans a little in their Championship run knowing they were trying to help make her dream come true, also.  This one's tough....

I think a brief summary of the Monday night National Title game is in order.
Kentucky Lost.  Yeah!!!!!

Congrats U-Conn.  Both Men’s and Women’s.  And the women beat the domers, so there’s kind of a double bonus in that. 
With respect to everyone declaring and the NBA draft status and all that….I’ll hope that Robinson and McGary get less than stellar ratings.  And wish Stauskas the best of luck.
Spring Football
I’ve now seen the Spring Game more or less in its entirety as I was not able to catch it in any single session.  And I can say this:
I’m nervous.

In years past, a lousy spring game with KNOWN commodities on the offensive and defensive side of the ball didn’t bother me at all; in fact, I used to think that coaches were purposefully not giving anything away to the competition by making Michigan look as atrocious in the Spring Game as they possibly could.  You know, kind of a reverse psychology thing.  “Here’s our tape from the Spring Game!  You don’t have to worry about us!”
But, in this case, with a completely re-vamped O-Line and – No, that’s not the right word – with an offensive line that was more or less a fire-bombed Studebaker (yeah, those ARE the right words!) I was hoping to see some serious running from the line of scrimmage that resulted in positive gains down field.  I didn’t see much of that.  I was also hoping to see schemes from the New O-Coordinator that would give Gardner options and people to throw to…Didn’t see a whole lot of that, either.

What I did see were a couple of underthrown passes (Okay – the broken toe thing and I’m sure he didn’t see a ton of practice time) and some otherwise mediocre play…
I guess after last year’s complete train wreck there’s little reason to look forward to anything this season…But it can’t get much worse…Can it?  I mean, we already HAD our 2008.  We shouldn’t have to suffer through that again….But I was hoping for improvement.  The offensive line is one of the most difficult units on the field to coordinate and coach correctly and right now, I’m not seeing it.  I hope Nussmeier recognizes this and starts to figure things out and decides quickly whether or not they have the right individual coaching that unit…Borges couldn’t hack it….

If you have watched the spring game, you probably also noticed that it seemed like the BTN was kind of…well…like a pre-teen ADHD sufferer that forgot to take their Ritalin.  The cameras were all over the place.  I was frustrated to the point of almost changing the channel after I had set aside time to actually take in the game.  I don’t know if they figured fans simply didn’t care about actual play on the field or we just wanted to see “who’s there” with a litany of cut-aways to coaches and former players. And cutaways in the middle of or during plays are kind of a pain in the ass….
10-11-14  Under the Lights
The PSU Kitty Kats will be back in the Big House for “Under the Lights” this season on October 11.  Based on seasons past, it’s either going to be really cool….Or really cool.  The Triple OT game against Sparty started out sunny and near 70 but had dropped about 30-35 degrees after the sun went down and as the fans left the stadium on that cool October evening…Well, I’m glad we won so we didn’t really feel how cold it was.  By the way, don’t forget to re-new your season tix.  Deadline is April 15th..

Well, in case you haven’t heard, the Florida State Seminoles have sealed their fate by messing with history….Eastern Michigan dumped the Huron Logo and mascot from its athletics and has literally been in athletic no-man's land ever since... Now, right after winning a Football NC, FSU has “Changed” Chief Oceola’s look and added “Florida State” on the feather….Personally, I could care less. However, FSU fans are vocally stating their overall “pissed offness” with the change and for good reason:  Everyone probably bought the old logo on a hat or T-shirt during FSU’s latest run.  And now to be “right” they are going to have to buy the new….

And when you do a little investigating, guess who was “pushing” the new design? Yeah…Nike.  They not only coughed up the money to do the deign but also put some money into the coffers of FSU to help get it approved…Just to sell more merchandise.
So, if I’m you’re an FSU fan and when things go bad next time around, you’ll have a handy point of reference as to what happened

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sorting Out Who To Root For This Weekend...And Footbuhl???

First, Congrats need to go out to the last B1G team playing other than Wiscy this season:  The Gophers win the NIT!  While around some of these parts, those are words that open up a joke, I think most fans know that it’s still something to hang your hat on as a fan and definitely something to build on moving forward….

With respect to what’s left of the NCAA’s and seeing as how I no longer have a dog (or bracket) in the fight, I believe I can objectively help all the casual fans that read this drivel figure out who they should be rooting for Saturday and then subsequently, Monday night.
EFFFFF-Kentucky.  I hate Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation and wish that Michigan would have somehow found a way to beat those clowns.  I hate-em, hate-em, hate-em….Everything Calipari represents is what’s wrong with college basketball.  I’m not saying Belein and others are right, I’m just saying I can’t stand that guy and his smarmy attitude and his vacated titles from Memphis and U-Mass.  And Kentucky loves the guy….Sheesh….So, there’s one easy one to eliminate from the 4.

Second, we hate the SEC.  I know, it’s not football…But we can still hate the SEC.  Therefore, Florida must go down to Ollie and the Huskies. 
Third, while I make fun of the Troll Center and the Grinch that coaches all the Bucky Badgers, I think it’s appropriate to allow yourself one game…This is hard to type…One game where you can sort of…Kind of…root for Wiscy.  I would like to see the B1G somehow vindicated in all of this and Wiscy winning a National Title would kind of get the B1G that exoneration.  But God…..that is really gonna leave a bad taste in my mouth….Not quite as bad as “Go Irish”, but I think you understand where I’m coming from.

Back to Futbol – Footbull – Football
In case you haven’t heard and you are some sort of soccer fan, this is happening at the Big House on August 2nd of this year (And they’re gonna’ have beer!):


If anyone is interested in getting tix, you can let me know me or any season ticket holder and they have some special options early next week for getting tix.  Personally, I could care less about this, but it might be kind of fun to sit in the Big House and drink an icy cold one watching a bunch of Hooligans go ape doo-doo on each other…Then again, I would be giving up a really nice day on the lake….
Tough call.
Spring Game

Football already?  Didn’t we just get over the pain of last season?  Why couldn’t we have stretched the hoops season out at least two more games and three more wins?
That would have been fun…Now, we have to turn to football…Except the Women’s Softball team and the Men’ Baseball Team are rolling pretty well this season, also…So there’s that. 

There’s a spring game Saturday at the Big House that really isn’t a game and it really won’t feature two teams against each other.  If you believe everything you hear things are going AWESOME and Michigan is literally on the verge of turning a corner now that Nussmeier is simplifying the offense and blah-blah-blah…..Yadda-yadda-yadda….
Look – I hate to seem pessimistic, but I was incredibly optimistic going into last season and all I saw was complete and utter regression on offense (with the exception of the ohio game) and a defense that was hamstrung with a lousy offense and could not achieve it’s potential due to the fact that they were on the field too long…

There’s a lot that needs to be proven to the fans this season and there’s lots of expectations.  The first one being:
Win the last game against the domers

Beat Sparty
Beat ohio

Come to think of it…Just win all the games on the schedule that you’re supposed to win and at least be competitive in the games you should be…
And everything will be fine…

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Game Is About to Change - II

Thank you to all who responded (via e-mail and some open discussion) and I’ve apparently found a topic that everyone has a pretty strong opinion on.  And I want to clear the air on a couple of things that I believe, before I get to the more intelligent (and less intelligent) salient points that people brought to my attention:

I am NOT PRO-UNION!!!  I never said I was for unions!!!  (Fergodsakes….You people read WAY too much into my comments!!!) In fact, the Federal Judge only ruled that the players (football) at NWU are in fact, employees….THAT’S IT!!!  But that ruling gives the players the right to unionize, if they so choose.  That’s all I was stating and I was trying to convey that this is actually a good thing for players…But there isn’t a union yet....
Whatever the case may be and however the players end up going about protecting their rights or getting what they have coming to them, I’m about as right-winged and anti-union as they come.  (Actually, I’m more Libertarian the older Iget – Go ahead, Take the 10 Question Test!)

The problem I have with the “system” is stated in the original post.  Today’s student athlete is so restricted by the rules laid down by the NCAA (which each D1 school is a part of) that they can’t even hold a dishwashing job in the dorm if they are on scholarship.  A student who is on a full-ride ACADEMIC scholarship can hold down a part time job, and they can work in THEIR FIELD OF STUDY and make money before they graduate!!!!  IF you are preaching that you are in support of fairness without unions, how does this sit with you?  My argument has been that if a student athlete can make money signing his autograph for 5 hours on a summer Saturday and he/she can make $5,000 doing it….LET THEM!!!!  That’s what I’m trying to get across.  This would not affect the universities revenue stream and the athlete is earning money on his own!!!  The union is the players’ only option at this point and the only leverage they have if this huge injustice is ever going to get addressed. 
No, I don’t want to see players “Going on Strike” at noon right before kick-off and having a sit-in on the 50 yard line while 100K fans and TV audiences sit there steaming – in fact, your MMQ suggested that exact thing happening awhile ago….But, I asked you then and I’ll repeat the question, what EXACTLY is keeping the student athletes from doing that today?  They don’t need a “union” to strike.  Nope….They are free to sit their collective heinies down on that field today if they so choose.

In short, NO – I DON’T WANT to see players in the NCAA unionized or playing under union rules!  To the person that asked if there was going to be coffee breaks during the 2 minute drill…really?  I’m trying to keep this serious…to a certain extent and that would really screw up the game.  And it’s not going to go anywhere near that far if cooler heads prevail and look at this thing reasonably.  Not only that, public universities will each be subject to the union rules of their state, so it’s moot as to how all this impacts them, anyway.
But The Students Aren’t Employees!!!:  To the person that e-mailed me this….That’s kind of what the judge ruled on and the judge disagreed with you.  The student athletes ARE in fact employees and they are “working” 50-60 hours or so per week in their endeavor and in fact are indirectly/directly generating revenue (huge amounts of revenue) for the university.  So, to your comment I can only say that you have been over-ruled by a federal judge.  I’m not saying he’s right…but he is a Federal Judge.  Please re-think that through for a minute and respond with a better comment – question to what it is you mean…exactly. 

TITLE IX:  Someone stated to me that if “money is given to the men’s varsity student athletes, it has to be given to the women’s varsity student athletes.  That’s what Title IX dictates.”  No argument – you’re right and that’s federal law.  However, not to put tooooo fine a point on it, there’s two interesting points in that statement you just made.
1.    Title IX dictates based on the fact that you are treating them like “Student Athletes”.  And the federal judge just ruled that football players are now “EMPLOYEES”.  So, what does that do to Title IX?  Is football and men’s basketball now a different entity because they are employees and not student athletes?  Is EVERYONE that is a student athlete now an employee and is Title IX toast?  All good questions…

2.    But, and this is the one point of power that University Athletic Departments will have left (and it’s really where the rubber hits the road), if the day comes when the “revenue generating athletes” are able to get additional money from the system, something will have to give.  And what happens across the country in every athletic program that exists is when the budget comes up short, programs get cut.  So, if the women’s crew team comes to the table filing a “friend of the court” brief stating that Title IX means they also get the same stipend as the men’s football and basketball team, if I am the AD, I will simply say, “Okay, ladies – Welcome to the Women’s Crew CLUB.  In other words, women’s and men’s non-revenue generating varsity sports programs will get cut to make ends meet.  It’s that simple and it happens all the time.  While I attended Michigan, they cut several Men’s programs that they simply could no longer afford to keep around or balance out with women’s programs.  So, go ahead and play your Title IX card, but it’s not gonna’ fly very long and you can kiss that scholarship and all the money associated with it good-bye.  Or, if your sport chooses to, you can forego the stipend and keep your sport.  Your call.
Full Cost of Scholarship:  To the person who responded with this and that it should solve a lot of the problems, yes, I also think this is inevitable and it will come to fruition.  For those that are not clear on this subject, read the article linked here. 
If you don’t want to read it, a quick summary is in order.  The NCAA more or less dictates what a “Full Ride Scholarship” is for any school that is participating in D1 sports.  They do an average and in the spirit of “Fairness”, they dictate that $30,000 annually is the amount that you can “give” to a student athlete in the form of tuition, books, room and board, etc.  I hope everyone can see the problem and quickly realize that not every university is going to have the same costs of education, room & board, etc.  So some schools have “extra” to give, where other schools (mostly the big boys) have to figure out creative ways to get student athletes money to “close the gap”.  Many of the Big 6 conferences have argued for full cost of scholarship and I think it’s going to happen sooner rather than later and yes, it will create a disadvantage for smaller schools, but also help the student athlete at larger schools.  But it still doesn’t completely address my concern regarding the student athlete’s freedom to make money outside of the university in his or he particular field of expertise.
That’s really the core of my issue.  Yes, I do think the university should protect the welfare of the student athlete and the case of severe injury, as someone else brought up and that’s the main reason in the Northwestern case:  The lifetime cost coverage of the individual that suffered the injury.  That should be something as simple as setting up an insurance policy for the collective group of athletes or by class or something that would trigger if symptoms or disabilities occur later in life.  There’s enough insurance guys around to figure it out and calculate a reasonable premium on a policy that all D1 schools pay into.  I’m actually a little shocked and disappointed that this already hasn’t happened.

What I really want to see is athlete’s to be given the freedom to work either inside or outside their field of expertise and make whatever money they can make – JUST LIKE ANY OTHER STUDENT ON SCHOLARSHIP OR OTHERWISE in good standing at the university! 
There’s a study that showed that D-Rob’s likeness, jersey, etc., made the University of Michigan almost $4M over the 4 years that D-Rob played there.  How much of that money do you think D-Rob saw?  (IF that is in fact the accurate number....I question the amount to a degree...)

Yes, that’s correct.  $0.
Is that fair?  Is it right? 

You tell me.