Preface: Normally, these write-ups are reserved for post-game analyses on the student experience. Given the events of the last few days, and the amount that the student experience has been front and center, I felt it necessary to speak to some of the points I’ve heard raised about everything going on. I apologize for the length.
The situation regarding the job status of Michigan’s current athletic director has obviously been at the forefront of any news regarding the university. While many, many fellow students I’ve spoken to are upset with the AD for a variety of reasons, and many are supportive of the calls for his resignation, some have voiced concern that the events have been perceived as directed at the players. Some have lamented the vociferous impugnation of the character and motives of the coaching staff. Still others have expressed a desire that students get upset about something that “actually matters”. While I cannot speak for any student on campus besides myself, what follows is my perspective on the matter, which is consistent with the conversations that I have had with other students as well.
- I fully support the players. As someone who hasn’t played any form of organized sport since playing baseball in middle school, I have absolutely no appreciation for the amount of work that these athletes put in. I hear stories; I read accounts. But there is no way that I will ever have a good grasp about the sacrifices that these players make day in and day out for the team. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the hell out of them for it. In all my frustrations I have never and will never direct that at a student. I may lament the youthful inexperience. I may lament that players are not always put in the best position to succeed. I may get upset with the occasional poor decision or missed tackle. But my support for these students doesn’t stop. Look at Gardner, a student who sacrificed tremendously (especially physically) for the team in his years so far. Not to mention working to get an M.S.W. in the process. Look at the walk-ons busting their ass to contribute despite not being on scholarship (or not having been on scholarship). Look at Shane Morris, who took a hit that would have any of us calling in from our desk jobs for a week, still wanting to give his all for the team. The list goes on and on but the point is that neither I nor any other student I’ve talked to wants any of this aimed at the players. We’ve tried to time our boos or our frustration such that it was clear in the intent—that we were booing a hit, a time management decision, a personnel decision. We were never booing one of our own players. When Shane Morris remained in the game and when he re-entered a few minutes later, boos erupted from the stadium. To Shane, those may have appeared to be aimed at him. To Shane and to any other players that may have felt as though such booing or frustration were aimed at them, I apologize. Unfortunately, in such a situation, myself and those around me were so stunned by what we were witnessing, so horrified by the prospect that a clearly concussed player was going to remain in the game, so worried for his very safety, that we felt we had to do something and in that moment, booing was nearly all we had. Students around me yelled “Shane it’s not worth it,” they pleaded with staff that couldn’t hear them to acknowledge that Shane was clearly injured, they tried to do something, anything to make someone notice what was going on. But all Shane could hear were the “boos”. And that is a shame. I wish he could have heard the reasoning, could have heard the students yelling for fear of his safety. I wish he could have seen in that moment that booing was one of the only ways left to convey our support of him and more importantly, his safety. I wish Shane and all the other injured players a speedy recovery, and I wish the players nothing but success. I at least am behind you, and I know many others are as well.
- I do not, for a second, believe that Brady Hoke intentionally endangered one of his players. Hoke may not be the best coach that Michigan has ever had. He may have a hard time getting wins on the road. He may not be great at developing talent given to him. He may be a lot of things. “Malicious” is not one of them. From everything I’ve seen from former players, from people that have met him, from everything I’ve read, Hoke is a great person, a great mentor, and a coach that loves all of his players and wants to get the best for them. And that “best” certainly does not include subjecting them to potentially life-threatening injury. I believe that Hoke did not know that Shane was as bad off as he was, was depending on staff to make him aware of the status changes of his players, and made a decision with the woefully limited information that he had available. That does not make him evil. At the same time, however, it does not absolve him of responsibility. As the coach he is responsible for what transpires on the sideline. He is responsible for making sure that there are personnel monitoring what they should be monitoring and is ultimately responsible for the safety and wellbeing of his players. I agree with Hoke when he said that attacking his character or his integrity was unwarranted; but I still think that he should not remain head coach. I honestly feel bad for him. He loves his players; he loves the school; he’s pushed the players to be good people as well as good players; he’s been put in a no-win situation by the AD and left to twist in the wind; but he has demonstrated that he is not up to the task of leading the team, especially in the moments where it is most necessary, and a player’s health was jeopardized as a result.
- Yes, this is about the concussion. No, it is not *only* about the concussion. Ire at Brandon and the athletic department has been building for years. If you ask any signatory on the petition why they signed it they’ll likely have a different story than the others. The common theme will be a tone-deaf department that has finally gone off the rails. Are we upset about the losses? Of course we are. Would we be signing a petition and protesting in front of the President’s house if we were 2-3, things looked bleak for the season, but the AD was not actively alienating students and apparently trying to massage the press release regarding leaving a concussed player in the game? I was here in 2008, and while, as a freshman, I wasn’t as clued in to the events on campus as I am now, I’m pretty confident the answer is “no”. Win or lose the students’ frustration with the AD has been building for years. The tinder was set, and mishandling a concussion, and then subsequently mishandling the mishandling of the concussion, was all the spark needed to set the whole thing ablaze.
- This does actually matter. Is it ultimately as important as situations in Ferguson? As the situation in the Middle East? As so many other big issues in the world today? No, it isn’t. The difference is immediacy. Can the students here protest and change anything in Ferguson? Probably not. Can they stop ISIS? No. But they damn well can raise enough hell that someone takes notice of problems here—problems that students can directly see and feel. Should students be getting upset about other things as well? Absolutely. But I’m not about to be dismissive of them standing up on the right side of an issue just because they aren’t standing up for something else.
To end, let me say that, as a student, I simply cannot stay away from any of the home games I’ve already purchased tickets to. Depending on scheduling I may even go to Evanston to see the team. I need to support the team. I need to support the players. Hell, with all that’s going on—and I still believe that change is necessary—the coaches could probably use a little support, too. What I will not do, however, is support what this department has become. I will not support Dave Brandon. I hope that that distinction is clear.
From what I understand the (much maligned) student section really got their act together and showed up in force for warm-ups. Any confirmation from those whom were there. Was this an organized effort, a la Maize Rage?
So in the WSJ today, there was an article about Alabama winning too much.
The part I wish to mention was the following paragraph.
Amid all of this prolonged dominance, there are signs that boredom, if not downright apathy, has started to creep in. The first offenders: Alabama students. The Crimson White, Alabama's school newspaper, reported in November that 30% of student tickets went unused by students last season.
"You get to the point where there's a game against Western Carolina at 11 in the morning that's not really worth waking up for," said Marc Torrence, the newspaper's sports editor, referring to a 49-0 rout last season. "You can do a whole lot of other things on a Saturday, like get a head start on your drinking or sleep in, that are a lot more interesting."
There were concerns raised about UM students not showing up early and not staying for the entire games. I wsa just showing that it is not the success of the team. It is just an issue about the fans/students.
Beilein has talked about how the Big Ten didn't do us any favors by scheduling our first games against OSU, IU, MSU, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on the road (seriously...ALL of them??). But one thing I noticed looking over the schedule yesterday was that our two biggest home games of the season are going to occur during Spring Break, which is officially Saturday, March 2nd - Monday, March 11th. We play vs. MSU on the first weekend and vs. IU during the second weekend, with @ Purdue during the week.
When I was in the Maize Rage the break tickets weren't included in the ticket package. IIRC, the home game vs. MSU was during Spring Break twice and the crowd was a combination of the "Blue Rage" and those students who bought the game a la carte. I personally believe that Home Court advantage means more in NCAA hoops than any other sport, and the students are the biggest reason for that.
Any current Maize Rage members -- do you have tickets to those games? Are you planning on attending? If not, can I buy your ticket for cheap? (jk, sort of)
I realize we have to play some games over break, but can't the Big Ten make an effort to schedule a game against a rival when the students will be on campus...geez.
I made a pre-gaming video this past Saturday. I am an idiot and can not embed, watch below:
To take a break from the Sparty Hate threads and over-analysis of our defense, I figured I would share something about the new policing of party attempts by Madison. I hope Ann Arbor doesn't adopt a strict policy like this. I feel sorry for our BigTen brothers.
Madison's city attorney's office has slapped three University of Wisconsin-Madison students with fines totaling more than $86,000 — that's about $28,000 apiece — for hosting a house party last month that led to more than 130 citations, Madison police said Tuesday.