There will be more on today's regents meeting in the days to come, as there's still much to parse through—the live streams I tried to view missed much of the action due to connectivity issues. I'll note a few important things right now, however.
President Mark Schlissel opened the meeting by saying he was "deeply disappointed" in the athletic department's initial response to the Shane Morris controversy, and he's still in the midst of evaluating the AD before making any potential changes. Importantly, the regents stated they support Schissel's mission to fix the issues in the department. It didn't sound like a firing is imminent, as Schlissel is still working to educate himself about the department; it also didn't sound like there are many road blocks left before a change would hypothetically be made.
Central Student Government president Bobby Dishell had more pointed statements, beginning with "the athletic department has broken its trust" with the students. He then cited a student survey—answered by an impressive 5,208 students, for about double the average response rate—that's been released in full via MLive (PDF link).
It does not reflect well upon the athletic department.
Had student seating remained general admission in 2014, less than 9,000 students would have bought season tickets this year (as opposed to under 12,000 this year under assigned seating).
However, even fewer students intend to purchase next year at a price of $295. To maintain a student section of just under 12,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop student tickets to roughly $210, or $30 per game next year. To regain a student section of 20,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop the price of student tickets to roughly $150 next year.
The department, at least, has agreed to "significantly" lower prices for student tickets next year, though an exact figure hasn't been determined. That may be a step towards repairing this regime's relationship with the student body, but the other results from the survey make it appear that it's broken beyond repair.
Though the Athletic Director was never mentioned, by name or by title, in the survey, David Brandon is mentioned 1,208 times by respondents (the phrase “Fire Brandon” was used 110 times by respondents). Almost none of the respondents have positive things to say about Mr. Brandon’s tenure as Athletic Director.
The CSG put forth several recommendations, including lowering ticket prices, expanding the student section in the lower bowl for basketball, being "forthcoming and transparent" when crises occur, and shifting "away from commercialization" in the department.
Most damning, perhaps, are the word clouds published based on responses to the following questions [click the word clouds to embiggen]:
1. Before coming to the University, what is one word that you would use to describe Michigan Football?
2. What is one word you would use to describe Michigan Football today?
I'd say those speak for themselves.
Quarterback is not the only difference.
Something you may not wish to address in season but in watching this team I had this thought:
Solid run defense, inconsistent pass defense, an offensive line with talent struggling to gel, solid backs, receivers and tight ends. Hmmm, sounds like 9 or 10 wins from Carr again. What is missing is a solid, low turnover, accurate, quarterback. Completely unfair?
Cumong man, that's completely unfair. You're comparing this offensive line to those featuring Jake Long or a half-dozen other NFL players, with zero freshmen of any variety on them unless they're Hutchinson-level talents. The backs don't make the right cuts and almost never make yards on their own. The tight ends are not good right now except for Butt, and Butt is still working his way back from an ACL tear.
There's no part of this team not subject to mental breakdowns that are hard to accept four years in. This includes quarterback, but since it seems like any QB under Hoke goes backwards it all ends in the same place.
BUT IS HE BETTER THAN A WISTFUL ORANGUTAN?
In the wake of the ND game i have found my anger directed more at Dave Brandon than anything for whatever various and stupid reasons. The conventional wisdom seems to be, "hey, but revenues are increasing so, even though football is terrible and the stadium experience is horrible, Dave Brandon is great at growing the business." I think that is non-sense. I looked at revenues from 2002 through 2013 (graphs and numbers in attached spreadsheet) and the trendline attached to the revenue data shows Brandon has not out performed Bill Martin. Growth in revenue looks very on trend from Martin's tenure.
If you look at Michigan's AD revenue from 2005 versus some other athletic departments (texas, OSU, florida, Alabama, Oklahoma) our athletic department hasnt outperformed them either. Those five ADs revenue increased 84% from 2005 til 2013, Michigan's increased...83%.
Look, the data i gathered isn't perfect, I don't love the way USA today presented the 2005-2013 data. I've sort of cobbled together the 2002-2004 data from U-M budgets. The way i have presented the data is somewhat problematic (i should index 2005 to 100 then see the changes from there), but I don't think it changes the overall picture.
The point is I am really bothered with the conventional wisdom saying Brandon is doing really well increasing revenue. He is merely riding a wave that started long before here was hired and affects all of college football. Raising ticket prices doesn't make you a business genius. He gets zero credit for increased television revenues, which are the two overwhelming drivers of the whole enterprise.
These are things I am sure you are aware of but i have not seem them articulated on the blog.
It should also be noted that the portion of the surge from 2009 to 2011 not due to increased BTN payouts was largely the luxury boxes coming online. Michigan offered them for cheap the first year and then increased the price to the regular level in year two.
So even if you are measuring Michigan athletic department success by revenue—a completely bonkers thing to do—Brandon is completely average in this department while being literally the worst AD in the country at public relations. A wistful orangutan could have been Michigan's athletic director since 2010 and revenue would still be way up. And students would love him!
[After the JUMP: Manning plausible as a CB coach over time? Mysterious red clad team-thing. Where to go in the event of an apocalypse. (The real apocalypse, not bad football.)]
Jeff Long and Warde Manuel: already contacted?
ESPN is reporting that the regents will discuss Dave Brandon at their previously scheduled meeting tomorrow, as revealed to them by regent Denise Ilitch herself. This may very well be the beginning of the end (or the beginning of the end of the end) for Brandon, as Ilitch had this to say about the Shane Morris situation:
"The systems failed and there are a lot of issues we have to review," Ilitch told WWJ CBS TV in Detroit.
The money quote, however, came at the end:
Sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that someone on Michigan's behalf has contacted three possible candidates to replace Brandon to gauge their interest in the job.
Arkansas AD Jeff Long, UConn AD Warde Manuel, and Boston College AD Brad Bates are the obvious candidates to be those three people, with Texas Tech deputy AD Joe Parker as a possible dark horse.
From left #3, #24, #23. [Fuller]
Come tailgate, support kids. A reminder that you can join us and former players tomorrow at the Go Blue Bowl Tailgate organized by Marlin Jackson's organization (specifically through the efforts of an extraordinary lady named Kat Mills). This is for charity so suggested minimum donation of $5 if you're just coming for the Q&A and more if you plan to drink beer and hang for awhile.
A couple of Marlin's high donors deserve recognition: Huron Valley Financial, the Bank of Ann Arbor, and MDen. Christians Catering is bringing food, and the Beer Grotto in Dexter is providing the beer. Full details at the link.
If you ask me, it's better to go. Everyone wants to do something to demonstrate that Michigan fans are fed up with a director who treats this program like his personal play toy, and that the public who do own this public institution are sick of it being hoarded, and its name besmirched by dishonesty and obfuscation (Best & Worst).
But for the record, I'm not in favor of boycotts, walkouts, late arrivals, or any other form of protest in which the protestors miss a snap, because I think it misses the target while undermining the one thing we all care about the most.
I know after the Minnesota game that Brian called for a boycott of Maryland if Brandon and Hoke were still here, and I know what name's on my paychecks. I know the players aren't made of glass, and that they're well aware that the vitriol toward the people in charge is not directed at them, although they generally take attacks on their coaches personally (they chose them after all).
But I didn't know until fairly recently why it's so important to them that fans show up: To a player, fans equal energy. Human brains are not wired to grant conscious access to the body's full capacity. Put a hungry lion behind the 20th fastest man on the planet and Usain Bolt will be left in his dust. Whatever our expectations for athletes we paid massive sums to see, they cannot escape their own psychology.
CSG president Bobby Dishell's heart is in the right place, but he's wrong: you're not hurting the players; you're hurting their performance.
Athletes draw motivation from the crowd. Michigan Stadium's size is a huge recruiting tool because an athlete brain understands intuitively that 109,000 shouting faces will get more out of him than 84,000. The number gets in their heads, but empty seats do as well. Go watch September baseball at a bad team's venue long after they've been eliminated: it's crap. Every play that your seat is empty contributes a tiny bit to Michigan (and, coincidentally, their opponent) playing a bit worse.
Weigh that against the maximum that you will realistically move the decision of Mark Schlissel. Your empty seat speaks, but you can also be in that seat screaming "Go!" at Blue to the furthest extent of your vocal capacity whenever they take the field or need a boost, and screaming "Fire Brandon!" whenever he starts trying to blast you. I think we can get that message across while taking a cue from old blue, and using this weekend to show the players we haven't checked out on them. You can make a statement with where you choose to put your ass, but that's hardly the most effective communicative tool in your anatomical package.
Here's what I suggest we do tomorrow: From the moment the band finishes marching off until kickoff chant "Let's Go Blue!" as loud as you fucking can. At the end of the the game, win or lose, stand in your seat and chant "Let's Go Blue!" AS LOUD. AS. YOU. FUCKING. CAN. In between, scream your head off on Penn State 3rd downs, boo the attendance lie, and sprinkle in "Fire Brandon!" as necessary.
Let's leave Hoke alone, since it does us no good if he loses the team now, and his fate is sealed to his record (Ron Utah with some candidate grades) so any more dogging from us is superfluous. ST3 made the case that the coaching staff has cost Michigan perhaps three wins with strategic errors: dumb-punting vs. Utah, starting Shane, and giving Rutgers that end-of-1st-half drive. I think it's more accurate to say that these coaching errors put Michigan at a small strategic disadvantage, and that the team is not so good that it can win without every scrap of advantage it can get.
Yes, showing up and laying off the coach is what Dave Brandon wants you to do. Fuck him; we come to root for Michigan.
[Jump: clans, coaches, etc.]
What will happen and when?
Obviously, the central issue to our entire fanbase is what is going to happen to Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, and if something is going to happen to either, when. You have obviously posted at length about your opinions about what SHOULD happen, and I am excited to see part II of your coaching candidates series. But, unless I missed it, I have not seen you post anything about what you believe WILL happen.
Specifically, based upon where we stand now (2-4, 0-2) what is your expectation as to (1) whether Brandon will be removed, (2) whether Hoke will be fired, and (3) if you believe that either is gone, when. I think that many of us would also be interested in your opinion as to how the events that will transpire over the remaining 8 weeks of the regular season could impact that decision. (For example, there is a thread on the board now asking what would happen if we win out).
I know that you are probably getting millions of emails on the topic, but I know that many of us would really be interested in knowing your opinions on this topic.
Thanks, as always, and despite everything, Go Blue!
I just don't know. I'm only answering this because I get a lot of emails to this effect; usually if I can't answer something reasonably I just say so privately and that's it. But… yeah, I don't know.
One thing I've learned is that insider information is often colored by the desires of the source; slap one degree of separation between that source and you and then it seems really true and important. This is not so important when someone has a broken bone; it is vastly so when political infighting is involved. So I don't take a whole lot of stuff about Hoke staying seriously; I know it's popped up on premium message boards here and there. There's a faction amongst the old program alums who can't stand to be as flagrantly wrong as they were and will swear up and down that Hoke can be saved.
He can't. Anyone who watches his team knows that this is a disorganized mess and in year four that goes back to one guy and one guy only. There is no expectation this would get better, and in that light the successful Hoke years look like flukes born of disproportionate talent and flat-out luck, as Michigan's 2011 was.
I guess Michigan could run the table but any reasonable season projection gets you to 7-6 at best and that is a firing, if only because whoever the AD is will know that continuing with Hoke is going to be an inflection point on season ticket sales.
As far as Brandon, I do not know. I've read all there is to read and heard all there is to hear and what is clear is that here is some sort of serious support for the guy that centers around Stephen Ross and his dollars and drops off almost immediately after that. If this was a democracy he'd be booted in an 80-20 election; it is not.
I would have faith that the people around the president who have his ear because of dolla dolla bill y'all would eventually be able to come to this conclusion:
- Someone else would be about as good at continuing the things who make the people in the AD support him
- Anyone else would be less toxic to fans and especially students.
Even if you somehow believe that guy whose PR stunts will literally go in a textbook under what not to do is the best guy for the job, the next best guy for the job is 99% as capable and isn't loathed by half the Michigan fanbase. This flies in the face of our nation's CEO fetishization, but here it's undeniable.
Logic then demands I say that both guys will be gone by the end of the year, but logic ain't got nothing to do with it.
As to the timing, Hoke's not gone until after the OSU game. If he was going to get the axe immediately it would have been after the Minnesota game. Short of that happening again, he's got the rest of the year. Michigan may announce he's done before OSU, a la Earle Bruce; functionally he's your guy the rest of the year.
Brandon could go at any time. I hear that there are some meetings coming up in the next week that could be the impetus for his dismissal, but as long as Stephen Ross is backing the guy it's going to be pulling teeth.
[After THE JUMP: define risk in re: coaching candidates.]