“He was on the other side of the court, screaming: ‘Good shot, Kev!’” Durant said, shaking his head in delight. “I’m thinking, this guy’s an All-American type of teammate right there.”
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If you're in search of good news, look no further. The Big Ten just announced their intention to, among other protections for student-athletes, ensure that scholarships cover the full cost of attedance and are guaranteed for the duration of a S-A's undergraduate studies. The full statement from the Big Ten follows (also posted on the official Big Ten site with PDFs of the statements referred to in the second paragraph):
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced today that it has notified the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of initial recommendations designed to provide enhanced benefits for student-athletes that are members in good standing with their individual universities as part of the NCAA’s new autonomy governance structure.
For the past two years, the conference has publicly stated its desire to continue providing student-athletes with an unmatched educational and athletic experience, including comments made by Commissioner James E. Delany at the July 2013 Big Ten Football Media Days, at the Collegiate Commissioners Association meeting on September 25, 2013, at the July 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days, and in statements issued by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors on June 1, 2014 and June 24, 2014.
The Big Ten will work to implement the following proposals through individual institutional action, conference-wide action or under the NCAA autonomy governance structure:
- Cost of Education: Redefine full grant-in-aid to meet a student-athlete’s cost of education, as determined by the federal government.
- Multi-Year Scholarships: Guarantee all scholarships. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be no impact on institutions’ commitment to deliver an undergraduate education.
- Lifetime Educational Commitment: Ensure that scholarships are available for life. If a student-athlete leaves a university for a professional career before graduating, whether the career materializes, and regardless of its length, the scholarship will be honored after his or her playing days are complete.
- Medical Insurance: Provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes.
The Big Ten has also agreed to address additional student-athlete welfare issues including, but not limited to, health and safety, time demands and comprehensive academic support by way of a “Resolution” that creates a specific pathway and timeline for implementation.
The Big Ten Conference is an association of 14 world-class universities committed to the pursuit and attainment of athletic and academic excellence. Big Ten institutions feature broad-based athletic programs which provide nearly $200 million in direct financial aid to almost 9,500 student-athletes on 350 teams in 42 different sports.
We look forward to working with the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC through the NCAA autonomy governance structure toward adoption and implementation of these proposals.
This is huge news and a big step forward for the rights of student-athletes. In addition, that's quite a loaded last line of the statement—the attention now turns to the other Power 5 conferences and the NCAA.
Glanzman, from the not-Copper Bowl.
[Ed-S: change of format; Ace is asking the questions]
Ace: It's sad that this needs to be asked, but here we are: If not for the fact that you're contributing to this blog, would you watch any more Michigan football this year, and why/why not? If you have tickets, what are you doing with them?
Brian: I dunno man, I just go. At this point it's a habit so ingrained that changing that is a legit scary thing. That's one of the most frustrating things about all of this: you can't just walk away. If this was anything other than sports you'd just go "this is dumb" and quit it. Like R.E.M. releasing Up. That was all, R.E.M., we are now done, thanks for Life's Rich Pageant.
I'm now in uncharted territory, though. Michigan's losing to Utah and I'm not feeling much of anything; against Minnesota I'm just laughing like a guy walking to the gallows. I don't even mind them losing very much because I'm not going into any games with hope something will happen, and every L is another nail in Brandon's coffin. I have no idea how close to complete that coffin is, what with reports ranging from nonexistent to juuuust about done, and at this point I really need that guy to not be in charge of our program anymore.
So... I would probably be going and sitting in mute sadness interspersed with outbursts of yelling at the coach when an obviously bad strategic decision is made. That's already what I'm doing.
I'm planning on going to the next two games and then seeing what happens before Maryland.
[After the jump, Butt.]
|My favorite part of the week.|
Seth: Yes, because Butt.
I prefer wide open, 'QB Oh Noes' seams, but I get genuinely inspired when a true sophomore who had an ACL recently reattached runs a route into regions with flying safeties. I get inspired by a guy like Peppers when he's not 19 yet and gets angry at his coaches for sitting him when he's injured. I get inspired by Gardner standing in the end zone amidst the greatest shit show in 135 teams, by Gardner standing up despite a Bullough-shaped hole in his sternum, by Gardner standing at all when a far better and better coached Ohio State team thought to snag an easy one over his should-be-dead body.
It was incompetence, not villainy, that caused Hoke to commit his instant-fire sin, and I put most of the blame for the circus afterwards on the maestro, and the lawyers who won't let them say anything of substance. They'll fire Brady for not taking responsibility sooner or for not winning football games later; I don't despise him. As for Dave Brandon, if a million phone calls and another national embarrassment won't convince Schlissel, what will another empty stadium do? If we gotta sacrifice another game for anti-Dave solidarity, fine; I wish it didn't have to be senior day because Gardner.
I'll come to the rest. I have free tickets lined up for all but PSU. I look forward all week to going back to college, sitting with friends and cousins, and watching highly imperfect players muck about with wings on their helmets. Highly leveraged, badly coached college football clown shows >>>>>>>> NFL. If Funchess thinks a win over Penn State is worth another 30 sharp routes on that ankle, what's a few more uppercuts of incompetence to my soul dong? Whatever damage they've done by slapping this on a cereal box, the fact remains it's Michigan, Ferbuttsakes.
BiSB: Like Brian, I've been struggling with this for a long time, but as a bottom line: I don't want to watch Michigan football right now. So I'm not going to. For quite a while now, I've only watched because I've always watched. It is what a Michigan fan does. Like most of the people reading this, my Saturdays have been structured around Michigan football for most of my adult life. Until recently, the fact that it was Michigan football has always been enough. Even when Michigan was bad, there were moments that reminded me of why I fell in love with the thing so long ago. Waking up early and putting on the lucky faded maize shirt. The team running out of the tunnel to The Victors. Denard doing a thing that defies logic. Just sitting quietly during a TV time out on a sunny day listening to the MMB.
But more than anything, there was always the kind of hope that surrounds Irrational Fandom. I witnessed Braylonfest. I lost my voice and bowels at UTL 1. Hell, I saw Nick Sheridan destroy a decent Minnesota team. There was always that feeling deep down that My Team will overcome adversity and defeat Your Team because of our inherent righteousness and karmic superiority. But that hope is incumbent on at least a colorable belief in the competence of those leading things. And I have lost that belief. The veil has been lifted, and now I'm just watching a football team. And it is a bad and thoroughly unenjoyable football team playing in a thoroughly unenjoyable environment. The games don't even ruin my weekend anymore. They just eat three hours of my life that I could spend doing literally anything else, because I can't make myself care.
So, I'm not watching the Rutgers game on Saturday. I'll DVR it, because it contains information I need. But for the first time in a couple of decades, I'm actively making plans to do something else when Michigan is playing football. Some will call me a fair weather fan for this, which is fine. I've been told that true fans will support a team regardless of how many reasons that team (and more specifically its coaches and administrators) gives you to want to walk away. But I will compare fandom credentials with anyone, and those who know me probably know how incredibly sad this rant makes me. I'm the easiest customer in the world to retain, and somehow they've lost me. I love to hate the team I love, but more than that I hate to not care about the team I love.
Ace: I am, of course, obligated to attend these games due to my job, but even if I wasn't, I have my reasons for at the very least wanting to watch these guys. Even after seeing the Morris fiasco play out in front of my eyes on Saturday, filling me with an unholy combination of anger and disgust and sadness and concern, every fiber of my being went "f*** yeah, Devin Gardner" at this, just moments later:
Like Seth, I find this stuff inspiring, and I deeply want to see these players get to enjoy themselves on the football field like they expected to when they signed up to play here. While I no longer do the whole interviewing recruits beat, there are a bunch of guys on the team I kept in touch with throughout their recruitments and/or watched play in high school, and it's really incredible to see them progress and begin to excel.
It makes me happy to see Taco Charlton, who once let me conduct a phone interview with him while he was getting a haircut, rip past an O-lineman and wreak havoc in the backfield. Seeing Jourdan Lewis on the fast track to all-conference cornerback is especially cool after watching him play about a dozen times either at Cass Tech or in camp settings. Part of what made the Morris incident particularly gut-churning was that I knew just how much he's dreamed of starting at quarterback in the Big House; when he's ready to get back out there, I'll get a thrill seeing the ball explode out of his hand like it did at De La Salle.
One of the things that made me happiest about yesterday's rally was that the students made it clear their full support was behind their fellow students. "Protect Our Players" ended up being one of the loudest, most sustained chants on Schlissel's front lawn. It's not contradictory or impossible to stand behind the players and still voice disgust with the people charged with running their program, and these are players very much worth standing behind.
[UPDATE 2:24 PM: now with 100% more Schnep]
Adam: I'll keep watching. As almost everyone else has mentioned, most of the losing this season has left me feeling nothing. I wasn't mad. I wasn't depressed. Just..nothing. It was like getting coffee in the morning. I go to the coffee machine with the expectation that it will provide me with coffee; nothing more and nothing less. That's Michigan football right now. It's football; nothing more and nothing less.
There is still, however, a part of me that doesn't want to miss out. What if something happens that reminds me why I started watching in the first place? I don't want to miss it, and I don't even know what "it" is. The more I write about this the more I think this is just a litmus test for stupidity that I'm failing, and yet I'll still continue watching.
WELP. When you're a four point dog to Rutgers it's time to start keeping an eye on potential new head coaches.
Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, Kevin Sumlin, and various others are not discussed because you know who those people are and it's unlikely Michigan secures them. They're passed over primarily because they're obviously desirable. You don't need to be told Jim Harbaugh seems like a good idea.
It's not worth the risk to hire anyone approaching retirement except in very specific circumstances like "this is the only head coach we've ever been any good under"—looking at you, Kansas State. So out go David Cutcliffe (60), Mike Riley (61), Gary Pinkel (62), and, uh, Kirk Ferentz (59), because it would be ULTIMATE MICHIGAN to go after Kirk Ferentz. I'd take Art Briles in a hot second even though he's 58, but he's also lumped in here or pipedreams since he seems impossible to pry out of Waco. 61-year-old Les Miles is also in this group. If he had a time, it was 2007. I'm not saying there's no chance… but there isn't much of one. And you already know all about him anyway.
Gentlemen of note, then.
Power 5 Head Coaches
Look before we name a name you're going to be all like "oh what if Michigan is a poor cultural fit with the spread shouldn't we go get a pro-style guy or something"… there just aren't many to consider. I included the obvious guy.
DAN MULLEN, MISSISSIPPI STATE
BASICS: 40-28 in his sixth season in Starkville. SEC record 17-24, which is actually rather good for a Bulldogs head coach. Was Urban Meyer's OC before that, and his QB coach at BGSU and Utah. 42.
PROS: Turned previously inept MSU into decent program. Young. High level experience in recruiting wars and as national-championship-level OC.
CONS: Has acquired a great deal of his wins against tomato-can laden nonconference schedule and still struggles to win half his SEC games. Reaction to recent suspension of starting OL for multiple in-game stomping incidents was from the Dave Brandon school of PR.
OVERALL: Desirability on a knife edge right now. If he follows up LSU win with season that sees Mississippi State end up a solid top 25 program he will be a hot name. Slip down to the 7/8 win level he's been at and it's questionable.
MIKE GUNDY, OKLAHOMA STATE
BASICS: Is a man. Is 47. In his tenth season at Okie State, 80-39 record with one Big Twelve championship and Fiesta Bowl win; two other ten-win seasons. Before that was Les Miles's OC.
PROS: Good coach who can insert any sentient being at quarterback and see that guy/spaceplant pass for 300 yards. Young for a guy with a decade as a head coach. Knows what he wants his program to be.
CONS: Availability questionable. Is currently at alma mater and has T. Boone backing him. Last time Michigan pried a dude away from his alma mater things went poorly, partially because of the reputation a man acquires when he leaves his home base. May not have left Oklahoma except for road games in 30 years.
OVERALL: If you can get him, hell yes. Probably can't get him.
[After THE JUMP: the last manball unicorn]
TODD GRAHAM, ARIZONA STATE
BASICS: Been a head coach since 2006 at four different stops including one-year stints at Rice and Pitt. Had three ten-win seasons with Tulsa, guided ASU to a 10-4 season with an 8-1 Pac 12 record last year. 21-10 so far in his career. Before that was the DC at Tulsa. 49.
PROS: Successful everywhere he's been that he was at for more than a year. Despite defensive orientation, runs effective, high tempo offenses.
CONS: Wears Britney Spears mic on sidelines. Inveterate job-hopper. Bad haircut.
OVERALL: Bo would die again if Michigan had a guy with that mic.
DAVID SHAW, STANFORD
BASICS: 37-8 in three years as Stanford's head coach with three BCS appearances. was Harbaugh's OC for four years prior to that and his WR/QB coach at San Diego. Before that was an NFL assistant with the Raiders and Ravens. 42. Seems poachable what with Stanford's attendance struggles and his relatively modest salary.
PROS: The last manball unicorn. Literally the only successful pro-style college head coach who might be available. Great record, has plenty of experience coping with spread offenses, and in year four concerns that he's just riding Harbaugh's coattails are minimal. Operates in high academic environment; already proficient at selling the kind of guys who want to go to Michigan.
CONS: Punted from his own 29 in the midst of dominating USC and still losing to them, a Lloyd Carr callback I would prefer not to relive. Stanford alum experiencing great success at his alma mater, remember last time we poached guy from alma mater, etc.
OVERALL: Despite the punting thing and the boggling USC loss would be a hire that checks every last box. I'd live with the offense, assuming he could in fact implement it.
BUTCH JONES, TENNESSEE
BASICS: Took over for Brian Kelly when he left CMU for Cincinnati, then took over for Brian Kelly when he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame. Improved both of those programs, with CMU having an undefeated MAC season en route to a 11-2 record and taking Cincinnati to two Big East Championships. 5-7 in his first year at Tennessee, currently 2-2. 46.
PROS: Age. Michigan native. Good amount of experience at places that are not naturally successful. Seems to have made Tennessee a lot better this year—they just about beat Georgia.
CONS: RR/Kelly associations may poison well both ways. Leaving Tennessee after two years would be a hard sell. Vols could match any offer.
OVERALL: If he is amenable to courting, I would court. Relying on M's historical place in the firmament over Tennessee's somewhat more dubious place in the cutthroat SEC to do so.
KEVIN WILSON, INDIANA
BASICS: Longtime OC at Miami (Not That Miami), Northwestern, and Oklahoma got the Indiana job in 2011. After 1-11 opener has turned IU into a chaos team that can win or lose any game with their lightning speed offense and horrendous defense. 52.
PROS: Indiana's offense.
CONS: Indiana's defense.
OVERALL: I'm not seeing it. Offense is pretty gimmicky, hasn't actually gotten to a bowl game. While I'm usually skeptical of arguments that the things that happen when your defense is off the field have a major impact on it, the extreme tempo that Indiana uses to be competitive is an exception.
NW's Pat Fitzgerald seemed more attractive four years ago. So did TCU's Gary Patterson. If Paul Chryst could actually put together a nice season for Pitt he'd be a guy to look at, but he hasn't so far. Randy Edsall might not be the worst idea in the world and how depressing is that? Al Golden might get sick of Miami, but his tenure so far isn't amazing. If Gary Andersen's amenable I'm interested; don't think that's likely. Oregon's Mark Helfrich is only paid 1.8 million dollars so Michigan could sniff around to secure him a nice raise. Bret Bielema… nevermind.
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Joe Kerridge
Joe, you’re obviously part of the offensive group. Did you notice anything different about Shane in the huddles after he took that hit and through the rest of the game when you talked to him?
JK: “With Shane, I was on the sideline. I was focused in trying to pay attention to the game. I really didn’t have any communication with Shane throughout that part of the end of the game, so I wasn’t aware of any of the symptoms or anything like that.”
Have you noticed anything, seeing him around the building the last two days, that’s been unusual?
JK: “No. I haven’t seen him in the building, but that’s a question for coach Hoke.”
This is a question for Frank and Jake. Does the team get together after a loss like that and the fallout from it and has there been a team meeting? Does there need to be? Do you guys talk about it, and what do you do going forward?
JR: “I think just us as leaders need to bring guys up and get people’s heads up. After a loss like that that’s what you need to do, and we came in and we did what we needed to do. We got our film in, we got our practice in, and it’s just about keeping guys up and keeping guys focused.”
This is for any one of you. I’m wondering how much communication there is between yourself and maybe coach Hoke on the sideline when you see someone get injured or if you see something happen; if you can go up to him and say something or what that’s like on the sideline.
FC: “I feel like really that’s out of our power. If someone gets injured or things aren’t going in our favor, that’s our coach’s power. He controls everything at the end of the day, [and] we just follow the rules.”
Then if you have an injury, say, on the field, how much of a say do you have in getting back on the field? Are you able to simply tell them, ‘I’m fine’?
FC: “We play football. It’s a difference between being injured and being hurt. Anybody can play hurt, but not many people can play injured. But if you want to play football, if you want to go back on that field as a player he’s going to allow you to go back on that field if it’s not too bad.”
[More after THE JUMP]
I just wanted to clarify. Have you had a players-only meeting since Saturday’s game?
FC: “I mean, no, not really. The expectations are very clear. It’s not rocket science. When you lose, you lose and it’s very obvious why you lose, but the expectations are very clear. We know what we have to do to get better as a team and as a defense particularly. But like I said, it’s not rocket science. It’s not hard to figure out why you lost. We missed too many tackles as a defense. We gave up too many big plays, and when you do that you’re going to lose games.”
You guys have talked about the goal still [being] intact, but do you start shrinking the vision, maybe looking game to game now at this point?
JR: “It is going to be tougher but we can’t do that. We have to stay focused on what our goal is. Like I said before, it’s keeping those guys positive, keeping those guys in the right state of mind and lifting guys up and taking those necessary steps forward to improve each day.”
How difficult is it for you guys to have all this focus off the game of football as far as the media’s concerned? Does that hurt you in terms of [as] a team or your approach to the next game?
JR: “Wait, say that again. I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.”
The fact that there’s so much focus off of the game of football right now because of the Shane Morris controversy-
JR: “There’s no focus off the game of football right now at all. It’s just going in, working, getting the film in, treatment if it’s necessary and we’re just going to go every single day like we’ve got to play. We’ve got Rutgers next, and we’re taking those necessary steps forward to improve.”
For Frank and Jake, do you feel it necessary when you’re out and about to defend Brady Hoke to other people? Do you guys talk about that because his job is under so much scrutiny?
FC: “No. I’d defend coach Hoke from the get-go. That’s been my coach. That’s the only coach I’ve known since I’ve been in college and I believe coach Hoke is a great guy. His job being under scrutiny, that’s just what the people see. No one really controls that but the people in the program. As far as coach Hoke, we’re all behind him. We’re not giving up on coach Hoke. We don’t see him going anywhere no time soon, and as long as he’s still here for us we’re going to still come in and work for that man.”
For any of you: what did you see from Devin in terms of handling being taken out of the starting role and then coming back in and kind of just all the things going on with him right now? How is he dealing with all that?
JK: “He’s been a leader on and off the field, through practice, everything. He’s handled it really well. You don’t see any difference in what he’s doing being first or second. He’s been putting in the hard work and doing everything that he can to either help Shane or help himself to progress for this season, for this team.
Brady’s mentioned that sometimes he thinks it can be good for a guy to get away from the game and watch. How was he on the sidelines?
JK: “He was a leader on the sideline, for sure. He was coming to people if someone were to make a mistake on offense, he’d come up and tell you and let you know. He’d talk to us, get us going, things like that. When he couldn’t be on the field he was being a leader off the field.”
What started with a message board post became a law student wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt in protest:
This and all following photos: Ace Anbender/MGoBlog
While at first it appeared the media members would outnumber the protestors, that changed in a hurry, with the assembled crowd alternating chants of "Fire Brandon," "We Want Harbaugh," and "Down With Dave."
A little while in, a small group chanted "Schlissel's House!" Lo and behold, a few minutes later, the protest had moved to the university president's front lawn:
“I’m proud of our history. I’m not proud of Dave Brandon being a part of that history.”
The guy with the megaphone—I didn't catch who he was, but since he was interviewed by several media outlets, I'm sure it'll get out there—spoke for a while about his pride in the University's athletic history, his support of the students and athletes, and the failure of Dave Brandon to protect either. The rally ended with a mocking "Dave Sucks" chant and a rendition of The Victors. A certain blogger may or may not have been interviewed on live television.
The full set of photos from the rally is embedded below. I'd estimate the turnout ended up at somewhere around 400-500 people—not bad for something that started just hours earlier on a message board...
Todd Howard came to Michigan in 1998, following the national championship season. We both grew up in the same middle class suburb (Southfield) before moving to more affluent ones. But he was a highly recruited scholarship athlete who played cornerback for four years on the Michigan football team, while I was sort-of recruited journalism student who played guitar on a couch at the Michigan Daily.
Todd now coaches defensive backs in his post-Southfield hometown of Bolingbrook. We've developed a recent friendship over M football obsession, and some heated disagreements, plus wives pregnant at the same time. His perspective is one of a guy who came to Michigan and had it made clear upon arrival that no player is bigger than the program. His perspective is also one of a player who played in an era when "getting your bell rung" was common, "shaking off the cobwebs" was routine, and everybody "saw" a few more snaps than they actually played. But he's also a modern high school coach with responsibility for player safety, and a defensive back who believes inside routes should be punishable by death.
He agreed to let me share a thing he wrote on Facebook and some bits from our text message marathon last night.
From the texts:
- Supports Hoke, says he's a good coach and the right coach for Michigan.
- Players always play hurt.
- Doesn't know what's going on in the administration and can't affect it.
- Want people thinking long-term: Michigan will be great again. Supports people speaking out, but turning away disgusts him.
- Every effort should be made to show the players they're supported, including showing up to games and cheering for them and not distracting the coaches further.
The Facebook open letter to fans:
Dear Michigan "Fans"...I really couldn't have said it any better myself. You took success for granted. 8 win seasons became the norm and you got comfortable. You never saw the hard work and late hours put in behind those brick walls of Shembechler. The lack of sleep, barely being able to drag yourself to class, minor addictions to pain killers, while fighting to remain academically eligible. PLAYING through injuries most of you couldn't make it up a flight of stairs with. The coaches preparation every week from sun up to sun UP, sacrificing valuable time with their own families so the BEST team possible could take the field on Saturday.
Now your "favorite" team is going through some adversity and look at you! Look at how you respond. Are you a Michigan FAN because it's convenient? Sure, every one loves a winner...if that's the case take your allegiance down I-96.
It's so easy for you to call for Hoke's job. You've never met him, never had a beer with him, never seen him COACH! Only interviews and cutaways on Saturday. If you think you want to win, multiple that by 100 and MAYBE you'll attain the same passion he has for football and an equivalent compassion for his players.
My brothers and myself are Michigan MEN, not FANS! So to read some of your comments and rants is a little disheartening. Is this how you would've ridiculed us had we not been as successful? Would you not inbox us autograph requests?
When you're team is up, cheer! When you're team is down, cheer LOUDER! When your team wins, congratulate them. When your team loses, sympathize and have pride in the fact they gave everything they could. That's a TRUE fan...but instead you're spoiled. It's a privilege to cheer for Michigan. It's a privilege to sit in the Big House...not an obligation. "The Expectation is for the POSITION!" Back to yours!!!
/adjusts Michigan hat
...as you were. HAIL!
[My rebuttal, after the jump.]
Sports fans don't turn out in huge numbers just to support the players; they're there because they enjoy it, and lately much of that enjoyment is gone.
|This is the ticket I bought off Steve Kyritz. It cost me $13.50 to upgrade to superfan.|
Specifically to Michigan, what used to be a bargain was made prohibitively expensive. Let's not underestimate the fallout: Michigan Stadium didn't drop from 113,000 to "103,000." It dropped from capacity plus a wait list of 200,000. The wait list is gone because Michigan put a $1,000 price tag just to be on it, leveraging the 300,000 potential fans to just 80,000 willing to pay triple the price. They leveraged the students even harder, and this was compounded by an awful home schedule to fill just 2/3 of the students' seats.
Losing teams always get less follow than winning ones, but there's far more at play with this team, because the athletic department has been driving off fans with mercenary policies. Of course the stadium is filled with fair-weather fans; a big portion of them only went because they were offered free tickets and the weather was fair.
This isn't the same program which our freshman year cost $81 for season tickets, and featured McNabb vs Tom Brady, Saban's MSU, Randel-El, #9 Penn State, and #8 Wisconsin (and EMU, but that was on Rosh Hashanah), not to mention the banner, the band, and flinging toilet paper and marshmallows from our pockets that also had flasks of rum & coke. Students today pay more than that for their App State tickets, and can't sell their tickets to non-students unless the buyer pays an exorbitant fee. They get frisked on their way in, get treated like criminals once they're seated, and last year had to put up with a seating policy that separated them from their friends.
I didn't mention winning in there, but of course our freshman season was a team coming off a national championship, and of course that mattered. I went to the PSU game on a friend's ticket and we cheered so loud in that end zone that Paterno ran out the clock in the 3rd rather than try another goal line play in our proximity. That wasn't just because the team was good—you guys barely got by Minnesota the week before—but because the fan experience was otherworldly.
There's nobody in sports easier to root for than the players in college football, and there's no Michigan fan who can look at a guys like Peppers (made himself great and emerged from the deepest part of the depth chart), Butt (7 months ago his ACL wasn't even attached), or Gardner (who's still picking bits of 2013 linebackers out of his sternum) without immense admiration for what they go through to be out there.
The players probably do share much of the blame—if they'd practiced harder, tried harder, focused better, their execution could have prevented the holes the team fell into. Fans tend to overlook that because the players are young and unpaid. When there's a player who clearly can't play we mostly get mad at the coaches for putting him in a position to fail.
The things that really drive fans away have nothing to do with the players. When you ask most fans who've stopped paying attention this year what did it, they point to specific events: 1) Michigan running the clock out against Notre Dame but trying to pretend like they were still trying by having the starters in there, which got Funchess injured. 2) Michigan doing the same exact thing against Utah. 3) The Morris incident, and 4) again running down the clock punting the ball away down 2 scores late in the 4th quarter. #3 is an issue of national embarrassment, for which many fans believe they need to make an example to show their displeasure. The rest are fans taking a cue directly from the team. They don't doubt the players put themselves through hell to prepare for those 60 minutes on Saturday, until they see the coaches letting those same minutes slip away when the game isn't out of reach.
The thing is, very few fans are going to be as emotionally invested in the team as a guy like me (and I wouldn't have gotten there if it wasn't for that PSU game in '98), even in good times, and NOBODY is as invested as the players and coaches. You can't hold the entire Michigan fanbase to the standard of the players' passion. Fans will invest only as much time and money as they find worthwhile against all the other things in their lives. The greatest team in history couldn't fill a high school stadium with fans as loyal as a player. To get a 113,000 fans to show up and be loud, it has to be epic, and I don't mean fireworks; I mean defending national champs with names like Swett/Irons/Gold/Steele vs. Ron Dayne.
This team can't get out of its own way long enough to beat a bad batch of Gophers. Before you ask why Shane was in there after a clear headshot, ask why he was in there after a clearly unproductive handful of drives. Michigan was inserting a sophomore QB who clearly wasn't ready to play because in five years they still haven't figured out that Devin Gardner has different skills than John Navarre. I know as well as anyone that there's more to the story than that. But you know as well as anyone that it's painful to watch potential greatness get wasted.
Michigan will have this problem for a long time, because they've spent the last few years chasing away any fan who won't pony up more money than a typical household can justify, because they've obliterated the student experience which spit out guys like me for generations, and because for most of Michigan's home games this year the thing on the line is "either we cream them or we're not very good."
A true fan is someone who wants the team to win. If we extend the definition any further, it's just alienating more people from a dwindling base.