"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
We had a survey, 3,556 people responded to it. We learned some things about them:
1. They only get to a few games
The average was two a year but the split is more like 26% go to no games, 36% get to one, and 38% get to more than one.
2. Most don't have season tickets
Four in five (79%) responders don't. Also, when these were run against the previous question season, ticket holders averaged 5.05 games a year, while non-season ticket holders went to 1.11 per year. Season ticket holders were then asked if they would have renewed if Michigan had kept Hoke. Most (68 percent) would but even 32 percent "no" is ominous:
3. There's a clear preference for ADs
On overwhelming majority (almost 90%) of respondents gave Brandon a 1 or a 2. Conversely, Hackett cleaned up; among Michigan fans just 17 people who are impossible to please out of 3400 is some kind of magic. Brian demanded I combine these in a bar graph.
Ace: "That is beautiful."
Brian: "See? Bar graphs!"
Harbaugh has some catching up to do on his boss, at a still really positive approval rating of 4.27 out of 5. Then again Hackett has already reeled in a 5-star while I guess Harbaugh has yet to do so.
5. As for his predecessor
6. They'll pay more for better opponents, but not too much.
What they have now is about what the market wants to bear.
7. What they want to wear
Either the readership didn't understand that Underground Printing is our t-shirt guys and this would essentially mean MGoBlog gets to design all the uniforms, or they understood too well. Anyway UGP barely beat Under Armour, probably because they're the only company other than Nike that spells their name right.
8. Who they'd like to play
You're going to have to click this one I think:
Notre Dame is the obvious one, and the next-most popular was Harbaugh taking a shot at his old team. Stanford makes a lot of sense in fan type, location worth visiting, old history, and a team we haven't seen much of. LSU would be great too though it probably will be less fun (and less easy) once Les and Cam are out of there. The Pac and SEC were easily the most desirable conferences. A breakdown:
|ACC (no ND)||1312|
The games already scheduled weren't included, otherwise I'm sure the interest in Texas and Oklahoma would shoot the Big XII back up to at least ACC levels, while Washington and Colorado could put the Pac 12 on equal footing with the SEC.
Oblig coach obit. Don't get on my case, man.
I mean, he gave Penn State a free shot at the endzone by taking a timeout with three seconds left in the first half.
What do you do with that? How do you put that into your ongoing calculations? Add that datum to the rickety mess that is your ever-shifting, often-hypocritical, prone-to-explode model of your favorite thing in the world, and what happens? I don't know. The brain elects not to travel down that path. The future ceases to exist, replaced by only the ever more nonsensical present. All series diverge. Projection is impossible.
Let's jam that thing in anyway.
Not an improvement, but not any worse either. At that point such a thing was almost expected, after the previous year's offensive line roulette and 27 for 27 and two minute drills that usually took five minutes. Time for some maniacal giggling, then.
On the bright side, even three-and-a-half years deep into a coaching tenure that resembled nothing so much as Wile E. Coyote sauntering off a cliff Brady Hoke still had ways to surprise you.
Brady Hoke should never have been Michigan's football coach. This was apparent from the start, as at the time of his hire he had two assets: the fool's gold of an undefeated MAC regular season and a reasonable, if truncated, turnaround job at San Diego State. Aside from that he had five seasons of average MAC ball and zero years as a coordinator. Even the breakout year at Ball State ended with consecutive blowout losses to Buffalo and Tulsa.
When you stake your program to a resume like that you're as likely as not to come out the other end with Tim Beckman or Tim Brewster or Darrell Hazell. An infinite number of nondescript gentleman have had the ball bounce the right way during the furball that is a season in the Mid-American. Some of them populate the lower rungs of the Big Ten when Purdue can't think of anything better.
And then there's Bo.
Bo was on another level, having gone 27-8-1 in league play in six years with Miami. Even he was widely derided. Here is that picture again.
In the center is a man who has made a Decision. It's no exaggeration to say that Michigan's best and… most recent athletic directors staked their careers on whether they could separate coaching talent from noise.
All these years later, you get why Canham rolled the dice on Bo. Bo was a legendary hardass who took nothing from anyone and comfortably existed atop the roiling mass of chaos that is any football program, successful or not. He chewed out players on the sidelines, sent them back in the game, and cracked impish smiles at the reaming he'd just handed to the young man. He has a gravitas that stays with the program—veritably looms—a decade after his death. Bo had the proverbial It, and you can understand how he communicated that to Canham in whatever passed for a job interview between them.
That understanding will permanently elude historians attempting to discern what comparable force of personality Brady Hoke brought to a press conference in the Junge Center in January 2011.
There was a moment, though. Now it's hard to remember that Brady Hoke had two years in which it seemed he was indeed gold that does not glitter. Hoke gruffly intoned "This Is Michigan, fergodsakes" in response to a question nobody remembers. He wore short sleeves in weather ranging from torrid to frozen. His matter-of-fact declarations and tough toughness were his tentpoles. We hung a great edifice of hope on it; Hoke going to and winning a BCS game in year one provided buttresses and filigree and whatnot to the structure.
At a few years remove it's clear that Hoke stumbled ass-backwards into that success. Few 11-2 seasons have been jankier than Michigan's 2011. The Notre Dame game that kicked things off was a deranged exercise in winning against double coverage; Michigan threw 41 times for 2.8 YPA against Michigan State; they had 166 yards of offense before chuck-and-pray time against Iowa; they were one overthrown Braxton Miller pass away from losing to a .500 OSU team; they won that bowl game with 184 yards of total offense.
The signs were all there, even in the moment ("lucky as hell," quoth this space in the aftermath of the Denard After Dentist game). I alternated between excitement at the idea of a head coach who had an innate aggressiveness on fourth down and wondering why the hell they thought Denard Robinson could be Tom Brady.
But the games were won, and the recruits rolled in. Hoke seemed to stroll through a garden of four-stars gathering what he would. For a year or two, everything seemed just fine. In 2013, Michigan beat Notre Dame rather easily. Michigan fans were walking on air. Then someone looked down.
Rarely in the history of college football has a fanbase been jerked so rudely to attention as already beleaguered Michigan fans were in 2013. The relatively straight line that was the Hoke era turned into a harrowing plunge straight into the bowels of second-and-eleven-play-action hell. Save for an inexplicable Ohio State game, Michigan became the most brutally unwatchable team in the country the instant they left the field against Notre Dame.
Hoke was the same person through the good bits and the bad. He was gruffly nonsensical to start and gruffly nonsensical to end. As success turned to failure, the things we liked about him became the things we hated about him. Remember when this was hilarious?
That joke isn't funny anymore.
Despite the fact that people will still swear up and down that Brady Hoke is a great dude, I have less charity in my heart for him than I did Rich Rodriguez when it came to write his obit. A slice from that piece:
Coaches aren't humans. They are walking soundbites wrapped in great swirling cloaks of mythology. Rap on one of their chests. You will get a hollow clang and a statement about senior leadership. Kick sand in one of their faces. You will get a lecture from Peter the Great. Peter the Great will be confused and incensed that he cannot sentence you to hang. Tell one his aunt has been dismembered by bikers on PCP and you will get a statement about senior leadership. Seniors don't do PCP and rip aunts limb from limb, because they have leadership.
Rodriguez was human. He was just this guy. He wasn't supernatural or metallic. If you rapped his chest he would probably get a little weepy. He did not seem like a great leader of men, or a colossus astride anything, or even a dude fully in control of his shit.
Hoke was that coachbot even in impossible circumstances. By the end so many indignities had piled up that I was waiting for him to snap.
It never came. He endured the brutally painful press conference following last year's Minnesota game as a coachbot. He released a statement apologizing to Michigan State for Joe Bolden putting a small piece of metal in their field. At no point did he bite the head off a reporter, or say that his boss had sold him down the river, or do anything at all other than repeat the same goddamn things he'd been repeating for two straight years.
I liked Rodriguez because he seemed like a person who reacted to stimuli. He reacted too much, but at least you could see that he was processing information and coming to conclusions about what it meant.
Hoke did not do this. Whether Hoke was stoic or insensate is in the eye of the beholder; given the chaos around the program my vote is the latter. He seemed to shut down in terror when his dream job turned to a nightmare.
As the competence of his team deteriorated, Hoke shuffled his coaching staff nonsensically instead of making real changes. He stuck with his terrible punt formation and a style of offense unsuited for his quarterbacks. Even after it was clear his disastrous program could not be allowed to continue—the financial ruin it would cause must have been apparent to even Michigan's most recent athletic director—nothing changed. If Hoke thought he had a chance, well, he also called timeout to give Penn State a free Hail Mary.
At least Nero fiddled. Brady Hoke stood there in the rain without so much as shaking a fist at the heavens.
Well, of course. Mr. Harbaugh goes to Washington.
A software engineer named Nick Harris was visiting Washington, D.C. one morning in April when a stranger outside the Supreme Court asked him for directions to the White House. It was only a brief interaction, and yet Harris remembers it well.
“It was very odd,” he said. “Like, why am I running into Jim Harbaugh at the Supreme Court?”
Harbaugh met with five justices, coaching them on the finer points of fair use law.
Also of course. Mr. Harbaugh finds a friend.
Per his wife, Sarah, Jim Harbaugh recently caught a mouse ... while dining at a restaurant.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) July 31, 2015
That mouse is now the Seahawks' starting tight end.
The worst possible take. This guy covers Rutgers for a living so he knows real when he sees it. I mean, I guess?
It was a good show. But let's be clear: It was every bit a show. Harbaugh turned on the happy personality for the cameras, and he was so effective that it almost made you forget about the other Harbaugh. The one that Colin Cowherd had to hang up on during a radio interview. The one whose personality contributed to an implosion with the San Francisco 49ers.
The one a former player said might be "clinically insane."
That Harbaugh. Which Harbaugh is the real Harbaugh? I have no idea. I only know the guy, much like Flood, from what I've seen from afar.
But I do know this: The Kyle Flood who was talking with the Big Ten Network cameras rolling on Friday? He is the same Kyle Flood was was standing in the hallway a few minutes talking to me, and will be the same Kyle Flood if you run into him this weekend around Piscataway.
This, you should know, is by design. … putting on a show when the cameras are rolling? That's not Flood. He'll let the shiny new guy have the spotlight.
Observing Jim Harbaugh for a period longer than 20 seconds and coming away with the conclusion that any part of his personality is under control is… well, it's an opinion. It's an opinion like Kyle Flood's home state recruiting…
Rutgers is involved with just one of the uncommitted players
…but is definitely a thing someone thinks.
Dubstep ahoy. We have discussed it. We are still not sure if this is a joke.
We're leaning yes. But this is the place that hired Beck Man, so we can't be sure.
Not bad dot gif. Here is a small chart about dollars.
Louisville has really done a job making themselves a thing, I tell ya.
Note that USC and OSU aren't on these lists because they have differently styled deals in which they're given a floor and then get a royalty rate above that. OSU's 2012 deal is for a minimum of 9.7 million a year.
Nice guys. Man, there were a lot of quotes from Big Ten Media Days that set your teeth on edge about the state of the program under the previous administration. You don't want to read too much into them because every transition comes with talk about how now it's serious. But the results on the field are looking for an explanation, and some of it is in here:
"The practices in the spring were four hours," Ross said. "I remember a time where if practice ran a little longer than expected that we'd start sulking and complaining. Now, it's four hours and we're accustomed to it. We can work hard for as however long as needed, not "try to get it over" work. The seniors got everyone on path. In order to be successful we have to change what we've done in the past."
Previously, Michigan split their practice time between the field and film work and the like. Since stretchgate we're all experts on what a countable hour is, and a lot of that film stuff can be moved to non-countable if it's not with a coach. It's likely that Michigan was wasting countable hours under Hoke. That is not likely to be the case under Harbaugh.
In fact, he's encouraged everyone on the team to get jobs. Chesson:
"In my perspective and how I was raised, you have a certain responsibility to yourself to commit and to be a positive role model. What better way than to get a job and see how it feels to practice, go to school and then go cut fields and cut grass, come back and sleep and do it all the next day?" …
"I don't know a guy who doesn't have a job. When you're working, you're earning a wage. So many people in society don't have that opportunity. For us to do that is awesome."
People often compare college footballing to a full-time job that you have to go to college on top of; Harbaugh's like "and also you should have a part-time job."
Also with continued bizarre anti-mayonnaise stance. Andy Staples has a column on cord-cutting and the Big Ten's upcoming rights negotiations. He's referencing Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scot's contention that the Big Ten might get the short end now that ESPN is tightening its belt:
Scott is correct that rights fees won’t go up forever, but the Big Ten deal could be the last hurrah before networks get more cost-conscious because of cord-cutters. The Big Ten is going to get a massive deal because ESPN and Big Ten Network partner FOX need those rights to compete in the new marketplace. With deals for all of the other Power Five leagues, the NFL, NBA and MLB all locked down until at least 2020, the Big Ten’s deal next year is the biggest thing left. It might be the last one of these deals signed for a primarily bundled marketplace.
Which is all well and good for Jim Delany, who will flit off into retirement before that contract comes close to ending. Those of us still around in an unbundled world are going to be looking at a ridiculous 14-team conference that was foisted upon us in the pursuit of short term dollars.
Also, Staples continues slamming mayonnaise even in the context of a BLT. Apparently he hates tomatoes, too. Poor bastard.
This again. Michigan's basketball nonconference schedule:
That is Xavier and garbage at home. All six non-Xavier D-I opponents were 200+ in Kenpom last year. Football has seemed to figure out that giving people reasonable opponents is something that helps preserve the covenant between fans and the program. Hockey (which announced a schedule like this one minus Xavier) and basketball have not figured this out.
These are slightly different problems. Hockey needs any legitimate opponents to spark interest and help their strength of schedule in the dire Big Ten. Basketball has a respectable schedule, but they fill out the holes with the absolute dregs of D-I. This is bad for both fans and the team. The NCAA uses nonconference schedule strength as a metric, and they calculate it crappily, so taking on the truly awful teams hurts you disproportionately.
There are going to be a couple of duds every year—that game just before Christmas is always going to be against a team starting a 6'2" center—but upgrading some of those opponents from the Delaware State level to the Bradley level is preferable to the current situation.
This year is Breaston year. Next year is Denard year. Part of the NCAA's increasingly desperate attempt to keep the status quo:
The Nebraska athletic department is joining lots of other schools in limiting the numbers on the jerseys fans can buy. For this year, only No. 1 and No. 15 — as in 2015 — will be sold at the Huskers Authentic team store. Next year, it’ll be 1 and 16.
Licensees selling jerseys are limited to the same numbers, and nobody gets a grandfather clause.
And the change isn’t just for football, but for all sports that have jersey replicas for sale.
Michigan has not announced a similar restriction but they're probably thinking about it. So instead of fans buying the things they want and the players getting a portion of that, nothing for anyone.
Take it from Tyrone. PSA, 1993.
Via Dr. Sap.
Etc.: This week in Steve Patterson: ShaggyBevo has to change its name due to legal sabre-rattling. In lieu of actually writing a Gold Cup react I'll just endorse this one. The Broken Bits Of Chair trophy lives. Media day interview from the official site. The turkey is a prisoner. For now. Brady and his phone. ESPN asked Ian Darke to call college football. He said no because he knows his limitations, but I kind of want to see what that's like.
Mike Riley and Jim Harbaugh go back.
Let's get ready to softball. Michigan's part in the Women's College World Series kicks off tonight at 7, as they take on six-seed Alabama. Michigan swept Alabama 8-2 and 4-1 earlier this year, but that was before the Tide turned to freshman Alexis Osorio to do most of their pitching. The game is on ESPN2.
Meanwhile in Louisville. Baseball takes on Bradley tomorrow in the UL regional. Michael Baumann has an excellent and concise preview at D1Baseball. On Michigan's first-round opponent:
Bradley has become the poster child for the RPI robbing traditional power conferences of spots in the tournament, as the Braves’ No. 19 RPI — which peaked at 10 — never quite felt right. Going 10-11 in the MVC — which is a good conference, but not that good — is a bad look, and along with an 11-12 record against the RPI top 100, always gave off the impression that the Braves were a paper tiger.
Bradley will need a win out of No. 1 starter Elliot Ashbeck (11-4, 3.11) in the opener against Michigan, and from there, they can try to cobble together something that gets them from the start of the game to closer Matt Dennis (3-0, 1.59, 12 saves) until it’s time to start Ashbeck again.
That sounds as enticing as possible for a 2-vs-3 matchup in which you are the lower seed.
Should Michigan get past the Braves, Louisville (presumably) presents a formidable challenge in the next round. Michigan figures to draw a pitching matchup featuring a projected first-round pick against their #2 starter, who is… not going to be a first round pick.
MLive also has a Bradley preview.
Today in things we are glad no longer warrant a post. Remember the books and the birds?
Those were deployed in annual posts poring over the worrisome state of Michigan's APR after the Carr-Rodriguez transition year saw a huge crater that threatened to drag Michigan under the red line for penalties. Those posts have officially been retired.
Michigan football recorded a perfect single-year APR score (1,000) in 2013-14 for the first time since the NCAA began monitoring the metric in 2004-05. The program's four-year rolling APR average now sits at 990, third in the Big Ten. The NCAA released the updated figures Wednesday.
Well done, Hoke and academic staff.
Meanwhile I'm growing more and more skeptical of the validity of the APR. As a number of commenters pointed out in the post on freshman ineligibility, any metric that gives Crean-era Indiana basketball a perfect score is not particularly rigorous. But it's better to be at the top of a not particularly rigorous metric than towards the bottom.
Summer camp, 1992. I wish I could bottle old Michigan replay music and have it follow me around, en-jivening my day to day.
It's about that time. Michigan basketball refrains from offering recruits until June 1st of their junior year. June first is just a few days away… and nobody seems to know who is on the list. Or if there is even a list.
Michigan has just two certain spots in the class of 2017—those from the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin. They are aiming for a point guard in 2016. Assuming they get one that would fill their scholarship slots and push center commit Austin Davis to 2017 minus any attrition. That means they'd have one slot at most with almost no idea where they should use it.
For the first time in a while it seems like June 1st will pass without a solid definition of Michigan's top targets in a recruiting class. It is possible some offers will go out, and more possible still that Michigan finds some gentlemen at their annual summer camp, which is scheduled for June 6th. Here is a 2017 top 100 guy planning to attend from a long way way:
Having already landed its biggest 2016 recruit, Tyus Battle, Michigan is now setting up its wish list for 2017.
One name currently included is Greg Floyd Jr., a 6-foot-8 forward from Las Vegas.
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas Knicks, Floyd's AAU team, announced via Twitter that Floyd will visit Ann Arbor for Michigan's College Practice Camp on June 6.
Michigan may also offer NY combo guard Kevin Heurter, who is currently scheduled to be a member of the class of 2016 but has a 2017 offer from Syracuse and is very young for his class.
It's a kind of legacy. The SEC has added neutral observers to the press box to determine whether or not a player cannot continue because he has been hit very hard in the head. Get The Picture dubs this the…
The Brady Hoke Rule
Woof. On the other hand, APR?
I wonder how Dantonio will get mad about this. This is clearly not trolling. It is the opposite of trolling.
"We know we're not the biggest guy on the block (right now)," Harbaugh said, per a live video stream recorded by The Wolverine. "Michigan State's the biggest guy on the block."
Harbaugh's comment was then met with a clap from someone in the back of the room. He acknowledged that clap, and followed it up by heaping praise on what Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have accomplished.
It is directed at Michigan State and Mark Dantonio, the man who's super power is generating offense from anything and everything. It is master trolling.
I heard you like team in your team in your team. There is a Michigan hype video narrated by the wonderfully scratchy Xzibit. Unfortunately it is not embeddable, which rather defeats the purpose of putting it on youtube. But at least it's on youtube instead of Michigan's terrible proprietary player?
(Woof on the writing, though. Lou Avery's generic organizational slogans of the week. You probably paid someone to do that. I will do this for free, Michigan. It is already my job.)
More like Steve Albrecht. Someone asked Steve Nash about Spike and comparisons made between the two during a reddit AMA:
"He's a good young player — flattered."
That's dang right.
Etc.: Journalism! Science! Maybe he just likes peeing in condoms. Hooray money, I guess. SEC complaining is the sweetest complaining. Matt Hinton is relevant to your interests: how to build an offensive line. Jabrill Peppers probably not staying five years. Quinn on Battle. Quinn on… Battle.
“Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude, in Los Angeles… But sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced him enough.” –The Stranger, The Big Lebowski
In mid-2010 I got hired by a bank to be a
Customer Service Representative teller. This put me on the front lines of the never-ending war between people’s money and the financial organizations that hold it. I learned very quickly that there were two things that could turn a mild-mannered citizen into a venom-spewing troglodyte: bank fees and Rich Rodriguez.
I loved when people came into the bank wearing college gear because it meant I’d be able to easily strike up a conversation about football, and people are a little less likely to verbally assault you when you’re able to find some common ground. The operative word in that last sentence is “little,” but I digress. By the fall of 2010 people were so fixated on the abject disaster that was Michigan’s defense that they willfully ignored how incredible the offense was. This was the fuel they needed to turn the “RichRod isn’t a ‘Michigan Man’” fire into a raging inferno, and it got so out of control that I talked to people who were even criticizing Rodriguez’s wife for not being Michigan-y or Michigan-ish or something crazy like that. At one point someone complained to me about her having blonde hair.
The Microscope of Public Scrutiny was so zoomed in on Rodriguez and everything surrounding him that Dave Brandon was able to make the Free Press look stupid and then lie in wait. At some point in 2010 Brandon’s opinion aligned with the bank’s clients; to them, the Rodriguez experiment had failed. Enter: Brady Hoke.
Hoke represented everything that the anti-Rodriguez movement wanted: familiarity with the program, a defensive background, and the mixture of self-oriented humility manifest in his claim that he’d walk across the country for the job and the program-oriented bravado in the interminable fergodsakes claim.
The honeymoon phase lasted a full season, but by the end of Hoke’s fourth year the program was in a place similar to where he found it, a place all too familiar to Michigan’s fanbase. One side of the ball was above average, but the other side was in such shambles that the team collapsed under the dead weight.
"Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play."
Brady Hoke, 3/23/2011
The transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke was like switching from cold brewed coffee to run-of-the-mill drip coffee; a move away from the newer, higher-octane movement and toward what felt more traditional, the tried and true. The fallout from this was immediately apparent in the speculation that one of the most dynamic players to every don the winged helmet might transfer to a school with an offense better suited to his talents (i.e. a school that wouldn’t put him under center and have him hand the ball off).
In what may be one of the most significant events in program history (more on that later), Denard stayed. Al Borges still tried to put Denard under center and Michigan did rep power, but there were enough zone reads incorporated to allow Denard to continue waking up opposing defensive coordinators in cold sweats. You know all of this. You watched it unfold. That also means you watched crimes perpetrated against manpanda and an offense hell-bent on skinning its forehead running against a brick wall before finally, mercifully, abandoning their MANBALL-big-boy-football-noises ideals and exploding out of the shotgun.
This piece is intended to be the counterpoint to the memory’s emphasis on the spectacular. The intent isn’t to accuse, but to take a more calculated look at what exactly happened to Michigan’s offense over the last four years and see where things went well, as well as where and how things stopped functioning.
[After THE JUMP: charts and tables]
Mark the date: September 1, 2015. Two days before the Harbaugh era officially kicks off, John U. Bacon's latest book—Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football—hits the shelves, and it's available for pre-order today on Amazon. In anticipation of the release, Brian asked Bacon a few questions about the book, and his answers should pique the interest of those reading this fine site.
BRIAN: So you have a new book coming out. What is it about? Is it about anything that may be of interest to the readership of say, this blog?
JOHN U. BACON: Funny you should ask. We think it might well be of interest to Michigan fans in general, and MGoBlog readers in particular, because they seem to care a lot about Michigan football, and this book happens to be about Michigan football. In fact, MGoBlog’s vaunted leader – you – will make more than a few appearances therein, plus Ace, and even a few of your readers.
More specifically, this is why I think the readership of MGoBlog might be interested in Endzone, from the first draft of the jacket copy:
Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football tells the story of how college football’s most successful, richest and respected program almost lost all three in less than a decade – and entirely of its own doing. It is a story of hubris, greed, and betrayal – a tale more suited to Wall Street than the world’s top public university.
Endzone takes you inside the offices, the board rooms and the locker rooms to see what happened, and why – with countless eye-opening, head-shaking scenes of conflict and conquest.
But Endzone is also an inspiring story of redemption and revival. When those who love Michigan football the most recognized it was being attacked from within, they rallied to reclaim the values that have made it great for over a century -- values that go deeper than dollars. The list of heroes includes players, students, lettermen, fans and faculty – and the leaders who had the courage to listen to them.
Their unprecedented uprising produced a new athletic director, and a new coach – the hottest in the land – who vindicated the fans’ faith when he turned down more money and fame to return to the place he loved most: Michigan.
If you love a good story, you’ll want to dive into Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football.
So, there it is. And that’s why I think your readers might be interested.
So is this a follow-up to your previous books? In what way?
Short answer: Yes, it picks up where Fourth and Long left off.
Long answer: it gives the reader a deeper understanding of how Michigan football got to where it is today – the bad and the good. Also, Endzone focuses more on the leadership of the athletic department and the university itself than on the team, though we have plenty of interesting stuff from former players, too.
Because this book focuses entirely on Michigan – unlike Fourth and Long – I have the space to write a better biography of Dave Brandon, to shed more light on how the University administration works with athletics, and to include the eye-witness accounts of the decision-making the past four years, including the hiring of Harbaugh – which is an amazing story in itself.
You were of course embedded in the locker room for the first book. For the second you were exiled to St. Helena, with nobody in the AD willing to give you any quotes. How difficult has it been to get inside the department this time around?
I love this blog – and UM fans generally – because when you reference St. Helena, you don’t have to explain it, and your readers don’t have to look it up. That, to me, is the Michigan Difference – or at least one of them.
Although I obviously wasn’t inside the department during the past four years, it hasn’t been hard getting inside the story, because so many people at all levels of the equation have been willing to speak, many even eager. I’ve sent out fewer emails for interviews than I’ve received.
My strong sense, from these many conversations, is that they’re not calling to grind their axe but to explain where Michigan went wrong, and what Michigan could easily avoid in the future. I’ve already transcribed over 90,000 words of interviews – the entire “Bo’s Lasting Lessons” was shorter, by comparison – and not one of them wants Michigan to fail. To a person, they love Michigan, they were heartbroken watching the ship start to sink – and they’re relieved to see it back on the rise.
One simple lesson I’ve already learned: You should not confuse the general with the soldiers. They didn’t always agree, but the soldiers often felt they couldn’t speak up. Now they can.
Have any stories you might be comfortable relating right now to whet appetites?
Well, my publisher would kill me if I did that. But what the heck!
By now most fans know the public narrative – and if they didn’t, your rundown last week hit the main events very efficiently – but it’s the stories behind the stories that Endzone will provide, from Brandon’s experience at Domino’s to how he got hired as Michigan’s AD, to his relationship with President Coleman, to how he fired Rodriguez and hired Hoke, to why he didn’t get Harbaugh or Miles, and how he and his staff faced the growing displeasure with his tenure last fall. (Perhaps you’ve read something about this?)
More specifically, we’ll explore how the Notre Dame rivalry crumbled (not suddenly, as we’ve been told); we’ll explain how the students got the administration’s attention to affect real change; we’ll get to the bottom of the Shane Morris situation; and we’ll spell out how many people worked to get Harbaugh back – from old friends to Regents to Hackett himself, not to mention Jim’s wife Sarah – and how they did it.
Why didn't you take the best advice I've ever given anyone and name this book "Brandon's Lasting Lessons"?
While I greatly appreciate the best advice you’ve ever given anyone – and feel fortunate to be the sole beneficiary thereof -- if I’d named this book “Brandon’s Lasting Lessons,” it would probably come off as disrespectful to Bo, and maybe just a little sarcastic toward Brandon, too. One reader suggested I title it, “I told you so,” which I thought sort of comes off as an “I told you so.”
Plus -- I hate to tell you -- I will do my best to be as fair to Brandon as I can. I’ve already talked at length to a Regent, a player and others who love him. It’s clear that Brandon was very good on academics, for example, and very popular with many student-athletes.
That said, I get your point. If you held Bo’s Lasting Lessons in one hand and Endzone in the other, you might think the previous athletic director was consciously trying to do the opposite of Bo’s advice at every turn – and Endzone will address that, too. In fact, your suggested title is the answer to your readers who wonder why we need to know more about this saga: there are lessons to be learned here, lessons that go deeper than just the list of crises, and if Michigan doesn’t learn them, more mistakes will follow.
Another reason not to title it that: while Brandon is obviously a central figure in this book, the Harbaugh story will comprise the third and final act of Endzone. For once, I’ve got a happy ending to write.
You do realize that I'm going to call it that anyway?
Yes, you’ve made the very clear.
No matter what you do?
Yes, it is understood.
You can't stop this train, Bacon?
I don’t think that’s a question, is it?