fair point that
It might be happening, and soon. Chatter has picked up after the most recent last straw. Today I've gotten two reports that Brandon is resigning in… a couple hours(!). One comes second-hand from within the department, the other second-hand from the regents*. Premium sites seem to have the same chatter.
Prior to what seems like a major shift today but after the most recent last straw I had heard that the next bye week (ie, after Northwestern) was a point at which something might happen, with another independent report from within the department asserting that knives were being sharpened, and a report from one of the events being held in the run up to the regents' election that he was done in a couple weeks.
The the emails supposedly blunted a lot of pushback Brandon's supporters were trying to muster. While you should keep in mind that someone who would relate this to me might be inclined to believe such a thing, John Borton is… uh… not so inclined, and he asserted that white flags are being waved($) inside the department. Sorry if that sounds like self-tootin'. Nobody likes a self-tooter.
*[Note: I endorsed Mike Behm. I should clarify that none of this comes from him or his camp.]
I am told by several sources there will be a 1:30 press conference at UM involving the president to discuss AD Dave Brandon
— angelique (@chengelis) October 31, 2014
Dave Brandon is resigning as Michigan’s AD, source told @ESPN. Press conference this afternoon
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 31, 2014
[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]
continuing this week's theme
The response. Brandon on the emails:
"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. … I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."
Would you describe this award as… major?
Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:
I've had multiple conversations with Dave Brandon. He has talked about @mgoblog before. So...yeah.
— Michael Proppe (@mikeproppe) October 29, 2014
Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:
"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."
It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:
"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."
"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."
"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."
The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:
Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.
Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.
This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?
This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?
Ripped from the headlines.
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.
It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:
In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.
Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.
I… I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.
I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.
Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.
Well, at least I…
By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.
To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.
Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.
THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.
Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.
A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.
Quite an artifact.
[HT: SBN CH]
You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…
John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.
[ED: Hey guys! Ace is looking for a few good questions for a basketball season preview mailbag. Hit him up at email@example.com.]
Meta-response about yesterday's post.
[ED: I normally hack out praise from these emails in an effort to be as concise as possible but it was not possible to do so here without making bronx sound like a jerk.]
I've been trying to think of a better way to ask this, but I can't so I'll just come out with it:
What is/was your goal with reporting about the Brandon emails?
Man, yeah, that comes across as condescending. Let me try to explain.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given their due. and I respect the hell out of you and Ace putting in the effort to figure out their veracity; count me in the camp of people who doubted WD's initial post due to the inconsistencies in his story. Following through on the story and backing it up with multiple sources is the type of reporting you don't expect to see from a "fan" site, and yet you guys did better work than I've seen in a long time from more established media members in the community. Heck, it's basically you guys and the Daily kicking ass in that department.
But once the dust settles, how do you see this information positively or negatively affecting the program going forward? I've made my feelings known about Brandon and how, frankly, this really shouldn't accelerate his removal (I mean, if his handling of Gibbons, Morris, ticket prices, attendance, stadium experience, alumni relations, coaching snafus, losing, etc. doesn't do him in but bitchy emails do I'll be a bit disappointed in the administration for needing something so trivial to move them to action), but I honestly want to know your take. Do you think the fan's role in the turmoil surrounding the program, now being given a wider public forum by your site than in the past, will ultimately hurt its recovery going forward?
For example, you mentioned in your podcast that fans' habits can be broken quickly and it can take a generation to get them back. You and Ace seem to think that Brandon and Hoke coming back would lead to an exodus, but are you worried that the level of vitriol displayed by the fans already shows the pivot point already happened, and that everything from this point on is just piling on and driving even more fans away? Personally, I'm less and less excited to follow this team even this year because it is just a clown show made worse by the negative tone so many fans seem to hold toward it. My Facebook feed is full of people linking to articles calling for Hoke an co. to be booted (many to mgoblog), and lots of them were moderately-sane fans before the last couple of years. I'm not saying you and the site are to blame for any of it; you are just reporting and commenting on the shit show being trotted out every week. But do you think we'll look back in a couple of years and wonder if too much gas was thrown on the fire?
And again, I'm conflicted even asking this, because you guys have a duty to ferret out these idiots and bring them to the public's eye, and you do a great job at capturing the Michigan zeitgeist effectively. But there's just such a toxic culture around the program, and I wonder even if they get some homerun hires (which I'm a bit dubious about), if some of this damage will linger.
Anyway, feel free to respond however you want; if part of this makes its way into a mailbag or something then by all means out me and respond how you wish. I'm fine with it. I honestly just want to know.
I made a decision to let the original Have A Happy Life email stand—in fact I made a decision to re-instate it after one of the mods pulled it 200 comments deep—and from there things proceeded inexorably to yesterday's post.
I let it stand because I thought it was true.
[After THE JUMP: a full run-down of the decision to run with this story and evaluation about whether this was in error.]
IT HAS BEGUN. Oh hell yes, we're already on FlightAware. Various people have pointed out that this plane went to a place two hours away from San Francisco and has done this several times over the last few months. Also they point out that Mississippi is not Tennessee. To them I say your petty "logic" and seeming "sanity" cannot stand in the way of an internet full of ludicrous hope.
God save this country if it ever can. FlightAware: love it or leave it. We have a song.
[Even though I'm pretty sure 95% of people who got on the Flight Aware bandwagon were joking: this particular flight has been thoroughly debunked by Sam Webb, who points out that's an alum's plane and he's got auto dealerships in the cities he flies to. This did not stop it from being on Around The Horn, because they got yammerin' to do.
Coaching search plane is not going to have a block M on it, I bet.]
ON HARBAUGH, AGAIN. Previous chatter here was an opinion from someone in the 49ers organization that Harbaugh was coming to the conclusion he might fit better in college long-term. I have a couple more infobits.
One is from the Michigan/AA side of things and indicates that he would be open to a return in the event of an AD change.
The second is intel from guys who work for another NFL franchise: it's well-known in the league that Harbaugh and the 49ers GM don't get along and that Harbaugh's relentless intensity wears on NFL players who expect to be treated like adults. This is not something you haven't heard from a half-dozen NFL reporters already.
These guys think Harbaugh will end up at Michigan, though, so that's interesting.
ON THE AD CHANGE. Support for Brandon at the regent level breaks down along party lines. I can't believe that would really matter—and of course in my opinion the only problem there is that anyone would support a man so toxic that he can cut student ticket prices 40% and still get bombarded with calls for his firing this weekend.
There are yet further suggestions that Brandon is fighting a rearguard action he's not likely to win.
Ross's about-face on Brandon is meaningful because Stephen Ross can always say nothing; if he doesn't return a phone call there is no article.
I can say that there are people in the department who think it's done, Brandon's out, and that this could become official by mid-November. Current chatter holds that one of the obvious Michigan-connected guys will be the pick as replacement, but I'd expect that would be the case until a serious search committee is formed and either includes or does not include potentially interesting non-M options.
ON HEELS AND THE DIGGING IN THEREOF. Brandon is going to go down swinging. They called another meeting, this one a mandatory one for all head coaches, about a week ago. A second-hand report from that meeting says after an apology about how it's not all about him, the upshot was the criticism was all "politically driven" and that the Board of Regents was after him because he's a Republican and there are upcoming elections. After that everything would die down.
Further, expect another letter of support organized by the department for the benefit of said regents. The email circulated to get this going indicates the level of organization here:
We wanted to keep this grassroots -- as it feels important to do so with the message of the letter. We did have a member of the leadership team and media relations take a look just to make sure there were no red flags.
You keep using that word, "grassroots." In any case, "employee publicly supports employer who hired them at high salary" is not news.
That should come out today or in the near future.
UT Rivals board as of late yesterday.
ON BUTCH JONES. The Tennessee rivals board blew up yesterday with speculation after one of their moderators confirmed that the ever-nebulous "representatives" had been in contact with Jones. That can mean anything at all, obviously.
Tennessee folks on twitter got the requisite denial-ish substance…
Butch Jones via @GoVols247: "I may have been born in Michigan, but I am from Tennessee. When you're a Vol you're a Vol For Life"
— Teran Johnson (@TeranJ_WUTK) October 28, 2014
"It's not even worth discussing," Jones said of the rumors. "No validity to it.
"I'm not going to waste your time or my time commenting on that."
I wouldn't put it at 0.00%, but things would have to go in some funny directions for Michigan to hire Jones after two years trying to rebuild the cratered Tennessee program without much to show for it.
I'd keep him on peripheral radar only.
Sources close to Miles indicate that given the Tigers talent level that they don't "think" Miles would entertain a return to his alma mater at this time.
Not much to go on there. I don't expect Michigan pursues Miles for a number of reasons, but impossible to say anything certain until we know which guy is running the search.
OTHER FOLKS' CHATTER. Steve Lorenz has a post up in which he suggests it's Boston College's Brad Bates who has his nose ahead($) in the still-hypothetical race to be the next AD, amongst various other interesting things. His read on the Harbaugh thing seem to be in harmony with my take: don't rule it out, don't assume it's happening.
An old-timey insider popped up on Rivals after a long, long hiatus when people cried out for his wisdom($). Verily, GFunk did descend from the mountain and say unto them that wheels were turning, there was probably a change in AD coming, and that if he had to guess at this point it would be Bates and Harbaugh.
Sam Webb posted a freebie with some encouraging items about Michigan moving up its timeline:
…there are high ranking donors that have voiced their feelings to Schlissel during meetings over the last few months. Now comes word that some donors are planning to speak with their checkbooks.
“(Schlissel) has been told that not another penny will be given until this is resolved,” a source told GoBlueWolverine on the condition of anonymity.
Exactly how many donors have delivered that message is unclear, but any impact outside of athletics will clearly be magnified. Especially since Michigan is in the midst of its “Victors for Michigan campaign” to raise 4 billion dollars to finance "student support, engaged learning, and bold ideas.” …
Before this latest barrage of negative feedback about Brandon the odds of the evaluation process lasting at least a month longer appeared pretty high. Now, especially with Ross’ announcement that he won’t serve as Brandon’s buffer, the opportunity for the timeline to be expedited is apparent.
Sam also adds a non-Michigan name to the pile of guys for next AD: Arizona AD Greg Byrne. Yes, the man who hired Rich Rodriguez. Byrne also hired Dan Mullen during his tenure as Mississippi State's AD from 2008-10.
Ace Anbender contributed to this report.
A few weeks ago, one of our users posted a fuzzy picture of an email purporting to be from one David Brandon:
We were already trying to confirm or dis-confirm the authenticity of this when Keith Olbermann's show presented it as a fact we're reporting. At that point we had to either confirm it or repudiate it. We've done our best to do so.
We are now reporting this is authentic.
This kind of thing is of course forgeable, but I let it stand because it felt like something Brandon would do. I know this because over the past few years about two dozen people have forwarded me conversations with Brandon ranging from polite enough to the above.
While the message board thread had a number of details off due to the hand-me-down nature of the information, Ace tracked down the original source of the emails, confirmed his identity over the phone and on Facebook, and got the original. I believe this to be real.
I asked the hivemind for help with confirming that the email was genuine. What followed was a primer on spoofing that led to one inescapable conclusion: nothing is 100% guaranteed. However, you can look at email headers and GMail histories and rule out all but extremely sophisticated forgeries.
This is where a second emailer comes in. Around the same time Brandon is alleged to have fired off the email above, he shot off another after receiving a short rant about how Al Borges was bad and should feel bad:
It also provided a larger body of information to evaluate. I ran it by a couple people intimately familiar with not just email in general but GMail specifically. The results:
The short of it is that the headers check out but there's no way to be 100% sure unless you know for sure the assumptions below are true. The smoking gun is indeed the back and forth GMail thread, that's just not possible unless fabricated by the recipient which we don't think it is (details on why below).
- Dave Brandon uses a GMail/Google Apps web client (versus say, a desktop client)
- firstname.lastname@example.org was not hacked and being accessed by an unauthorized third party
- Neither a 3rd party or the recipients know the specific Google Apps servers for umich.edu's domain
- The document with the thread between Dave Brandon and the sender was not fabricated
- The sender's headers appear consistent and indicate authenticity—however, a single email header is insufficient to prove authenticity
- GMail automatically detects spoofed Gmails and Google Apps addresses—user(s) would have received a warning
- Replies to spoofed email addresses will go to the real email address—the sender's emails were getting to email@example.com and being responded to.
- GMail uses signatures in headers to group threads together. Spoofed emails with the same subject aren't put into threads—the back and forth thread is the strongest proof that the emails are authentic.
- The back-and-forth thread does not appear to be a forgery—the spacing, elements, and little details (such as "mgoblog.com" being in purple because it's a previously visited address for the user) all seem to check out.
The longer thread looks authentic beyond reasonable doubt.
- Since the original email is discussed repeatedly in the longer thread, that seems certainly true.
- A second opinion from a professional in the field links the two emails together:
We have two separate emails that claim to be sent from DB with the same mail server in the header and the same SMTP address. I'm wholly convinced that neither are forged if these are indeed from 2 different people that couldn't have colluded.
The independent reports I've gotten over the last two years rules out a hack. Dave Brandon has on many, many occasions sent out emails of this nature in his tenure. People have forwarded me nice notes and not-nice notes; it is beyond a reasonable doubt these are authentic.
- Here are more interactions between fans and Dave Brandon provided to me.
"Quit Drinking And Go To Bed"
We are sick of all the talk, excuses, and most importantly the losses. You throwing Coach Rodriguez under the bus like you have this week was an embarrassment to the University and more importantly a big cheap shot on all of the players from his classes. Would you classify the game today as "big-boy football?" Would you consider Urban Meyer's offense "big-boy football?" Was that poor excuse of a defense today playing "big-boy football?" Not only was this season an embarrassment to this University, but your conduct over this past week puts a further black eye on this season and has no place at Michigan. Michigan is now truly a middle of the road Big Ten team and we have you (not Rich Rodriguez) to thank for that.
BRANDON: Quit drinking and go to bed.
Thanks for the classy response. You may have just lost another season ticket holder.
BRANDON: Getting advice from you on what constitutes a classy email is really a joke.
With all due respect, please explain to me what was wrong with my original email? Did I say anything that offended you or that wasn't true? All I did was reference points that you used in your media tour last week. When you go out into the public like you did, do you not expect some backlash? To accuse me of drinking is laughable coming from someone in your position. As I have been reading from various writers, I hope you have extreme concern that the 100,000 attendance streak is in real jeopardy. We just want to win and us fans don't necessarily appreciate seeing you on tv and in the newspapers every other day.
BRANDON: I don't believe you know what "due respect" is....
You sent a snarky, negative article at 11:58 PM the night of a very disappointing loss....telling me what "we" are sick of! I didn't know you had been elected to represent anyone. I don't know who you are....and I really don't care about your views based on "what you read." And, I don't accept you as a representative of anyone other than yourself.
For you to point out that "we just want to win" is really profound. Do you think our kids and coaches don't want to win? Do you think I don't want to win? Really????
I don't know what you do for a living...but if you want to be an athletic director....go for it. If you want to be a coach...go for it.
As it relates to seeing me on TV or in newspapers....I have no idea what you are talking about. I don't know or care about that stuff....apparently, you do. You really should get a different hobby!
I will let the ticket office know of your decision to give up your seats. I am sure we can use your email address to locate your file. I am sure you will be much happier....because clearly your anger and frustration over our disappointing season has gotten the best of you.
It's too bad...if you got to know our kids and coaches, you would likely enjoy supporting them even when times are tough. They are quality people who care a lot about Michigan. Their efforts, sacrifices and commitment goes beyond putting go blue in their email address and pretending to be a loyal fan - they stay positive and continue to fight even when people like you attack them and the outcome of their efforts.
I wish you well....and I hope you find a team to support that wins every game and every season is a complete success.
"I Am Sorry You Are 'Upset'"
This was posted as a diary in September by the emailer himself over a year after he'd emailed me and asked me to keep the exchange private. This is the key section and is verbatim from the email he provided me in 2013:
[My first name],
I received your message and I am sorry you are "upset" over a noodle.
Clearly, this is a very troubling matter for you.
Perhaps the lesson here is for you to be careful not to believe everything you read. There was an event at the Stadium Friday and this promotional piece was included. It was removed at the conclusion of the event.
I suggest you relax and enjoy the football game today!
Dear Mr. Brandon,
Thank you for your timely response. I am not upset about a noodle, however, but about the possibility of advertising in Michigan Stadium on game days now and in the future.
I suggest that you drop the condescending tone.
Thanks for your very helpful input!!
"Thank you so very much… incredible insight"
In response to a guy advocating against Les Miles for breaking oversigning rules, eating grass, and clapping annoyingly, ending with
Mr. Brandon likes to refer to Michigan football as a "brand." Though I would strongly suggest he stop using this term immediately (academia is not Corporate America, nor is UM football a pizza that tastes like cardboard), I'd also implore him to compare Les Miles' behavior with the "brand" he's trying to protect.
As you are helping define the difference between academia and Corporate America for President Coleman and me (thank you so very much….incredible insight!) you inaccurately stated my reference to branding at the University. I have never referred to Michigan Football is a “brand”….because it is not. I have referred to the “Block M” as a brand….because it is!
Michigan Football is one of the many ways we build our brand at Michigan…as do the rest of our athletic programs, our health system, our academic units, and just about everything else we do at the University.
If this troubles you….I am sorry. However, it won’t change the fact that our Block M is one of the most recognized global brands in higher education…and I would think anyone with an email address of “UM Alum” would understand the power of that!
Go Blue! And, thanks for providing your deep research on Coach Miles.
What about FOIA?
I have been informed that Michigan erases Brandon's email regularly to prevent responsive requests by a person who worked in the athletic department for three years.
A FOIA request for an email sent or received by Dave Brandon would end up going to his secretary. If the date of the email is given, his secretary would not even need to look to see if the email exists. All of Dave Brandon's emails are manually deleted from his university email once they are about one month old. They have been since he started. Since it is done manually, sometimes it's actually a little later, sometimes it is a little sooner, especially if the email is something that may be FOIAed.
But it was explained to me that the whole point is to avoid responding to a FOIA request (like this one). I've been following this email/FOIA issue, and after I spoke with one of my friends in the athletic department, we agreed that we would be shocked if that email still existed in his email, even if it did exist at one time.
This is why a specific request filed by an MGoBlog member turned up nothing. I have two FOIAs in with the department currently, one for six days of mail to and from two email addresses, the other for DaveBrandonAD@umich.edu and firstname.lastname@example.org dating back to January 1st of 2013. The department wants to charge me $385 for the first request and $1215 for the second—if those are at all proportional than there's approximately three weeks of email sitting there.
Is this legal? Our local law-talker BISB weighs in:
If a state employee (such as, for random example, a University Athletic Director) deleted email exchanges, he was probably in violation of Michigan's FOIA law. Emails sent by an employee in the course of his official function are considered public records. The University of Michigan, and its employees, have an affirmative obligation to maintain public records:
MCL 15.233(3): "A public body shall protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction."
That duty extends to the individual employees. Intentionally deleting emails as a means of preventing them from being FOIAed would be a violation of MCL 15.240(7):
"If the circuit court determines... that the public body has arbitrarily and capriciously violated this Act by refusal or delay in disclosing or providing copies of a public record, the court shall award, in addition to any actual or compensatory damages, punitive damages in the amount of $500.00 to the person seeking the right to inspect or receive a copy of a public record."
"Capricious and arbitrary" essentially means without cause and in an abuse of power. The University of Michigan is the one subject to the penalty, but the employee is the one who committed the violation.
Since the punishment is so paltry, Michigan doesn't seem to care.
The recipients of these emails are private citizens who would like to remain such so I've blacked out their email addresses. All else is as received. There are links to the originals in every section; here they are in a group.
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Ross batphone rang again today:
On Monday, Ross said that he still thinks Brandon can do the job. But he also has promised school president Mark Schlissel that he won’t interfere or oppose a decision to fire Brandon.
“I don’t think alumni should control universities,” Ross said. “We have a great president and he is running the university and not me.”
Ross said Schlissel has “been talking to a lot of people” about Brandon and “has not come to a hasty conclusion.” If he has made a decision, Ross said, “he has not told anyone.”
IS THIS THE KISS OF DEEEEAAAATH?