I did not make this headline up
Avast ye! Though I may be best “known” for philosophical musings and general nonsense, I do dabble in quantitative studies from time to time.
To the Number Crunching Gods, I offer up my crude financial analysis, so that we all may be enlightened regarding the scheduling practices with which we are so dissatisfied.
In FY08 M made $139,410,000 in Other Auxiliary Enterprises [heretofore referred to as "OAE" -ed.] Revenue -- which consists of revenues generated by "intercollegiate athletics, parking, student unions, university press and student publications." The order of that list, I am sure, puts the biggest moneymakers first and goes down from there. I'm not going to bother trying to figure out exactly how much athletics contributes proportionally, and it doesn't matter a whole lot, as we shall see.
They give some detail in terms of Auxiliary Enterprise Revenue, enough to figure out how much each category contributes to the total. OAE contributes 6% of the total revenue for this category.
Now, here is the weak spot in my analysis. They do not give detail for Auxiliary Enterprise Expenses (just the total figure), so I assumed that the proportions of costs in each category were distributed according to the proportions of revenue generation. This is almost certainly a false assumption, but it gives us an approximation to work with, and is probably not terribly far off.
So, with that in mind, I estimated OAE Expenses to be $133,760,370. Subtracting costs from revenues shows a yearly operating surplus of $5,649,630 for OAE.
What does this have to do with our emasculated football scheduling practices? Yes, that's right, now we are getting to the good stuff.
Using attendance figures and an estimate of 20,000 student tickets per game, and not counting validation stickers (data unavailable) I calculated the average revenue generated per home game at $5,455,438.14. The least profitable game was Miami (OH) at $4,876,700.00 and the most profitable was MSU at $6,399,490.00.
Given our estimate of the operating surplus for OAE (of which athletics is only a part – albeit the most significant part, financially) we find that the average revenue per home game is 97% of this surplus. So, on average, one game creates almost the entire operating surplus for those activities (see above to be reminded of other programs/departments under the auspices of OAE, in addition to the other sports under the athletic department). Even the lowest revenue generator (Miami) constitutes 86% of this surplus.
Behold the power of football.
No wonder Bill Martin is unwilling to have another away game, which would basically discard the entire operating surplus for the athletic department et al.
So it seems that Brian is right: It’s hopeless.
But not entirely! As you can see from the table below, variability in ticket pricing leads to significant results. A high-profile game like MSU cost $65/ticket while the average ticket price (excluding MSU) was $53.83. If we get a big-name team to play, then surely the ticket price could be jacked up enough to compensate for a good portion of lost revenue from the subsequent away game (see the table: total revenue for the MSU game was more than one million dollars above the average, again excluding MSU from the recalculated average). Given the positive externalities generated by these high-profile match-ups (namely, being taken seriously as a national power, which leads to increased revenue in the long-run) it seems reasonable to schedule them once in a while and make adjustments (in costs –do you really need another opium den, athletes?— and ticket pricing) to minimize the harm from lost revenue.
But will this happen? I doubt it, as the stated reason for the Endless Domer Duel (EDD) and the data available indicate a highly conservative financial philosophy… they just don’t seem willing to take risks. However, when (if) the economy rebounds and the financing of the new stadium construction becomes more manageable, we may see a decrease in this conservative approach. Let us pray.
If there is one team we all ought to be rooting for aside from Michigan this autumn, it is the Golden Domers at Notre Dame. Here is hoping they find a way to sneak 9 wins out of their watery schedule this season to we aren't facing another coach in South bend.
The one thing that Weis has done very well is bring in some elite level talent that hasn't been seen since Lou Holtz. Of the many things Weis hasn't done very well, a couple of them are particularly relevant for our purposes:
1) figure out how to develop players (e.g., Sam Young anyone?) and
2) put together a good team without the prior tutelage of Ty Willingham (who I suspect after this year will be far less hated in South Bend).
I enjoy the irony when Notre Dame fans rail against Rodriguez and Michigan for going 3-9 in 2008 in his first year (Weis went 3-9 in his 3rd year and 7-6 in his 4th WITH HIS OWN PLAYERS).
And the recruiting advantage over Michigan is seriously EXAGGERATED as well. True, the '08 class saw nearly every head to head battle go to Notre Dame, but the reality is that Weis had the trump card of immediate playing time, and Rodriguez only had about a month and a half to keep the current class together and identify more recruits--many of which we weren't in direct competition with ND for, save Martavious Odoms. More telling, is the way the '09 head-to-head battles with Notre Dame unfolded: Notre Dame signed (players that we offered): Alex Bullard, Chris Watt, Zach Martin, and Shaq Evans. Michigan signed (players that ND offered): William Campbell, Anthony LaLota, Craig Roh, and Michael Schofield.
Without the "playing time" card to play, Michigan and Notre Dame split 8 recruits down the middle. And, I would prefer the 4 that Michigan signed.
The end point is that it is in the interests of Michigan football for Charlie Weis to squeak out 9 wins this year and maybe even win a bowl game so we aren't facing Urban Meyer in South Bend every other year. With Charlie Weis, Notre Dame may sign some good players, but the vertical routes will occur at predictable intervals, Clausen will still be mediocre, the play-calling will be uninventive, and Notre Dame will remain soft (remember how McGuffie got off against ND last year? In hindsight, how weird is that to think about?).
It’s a topic that I am sure every Michigan fan has considered heading into this fall; after a disappointing 3-9 record last year, how many wins will the Wolverine’s have in 2009? Clearly there are an innumerable # of factors that can be considered and we are months from the opener verse Western Michigan. But it’s never too early to do a logical rundown of the 2009 schedule.
9/05 Western Michigan – last year’s Broncos enjoyed a good season in the MAC, finishing 6-2 in conference play and 9-4 overall. The results in the off season was that Western gave its coach Bill Cubit a new 5 year contract on the same day they lost to Rice 38-14 in the Texas Bowl. The team had great success at home (5-0), beat Illinois at Ford Field, and earned its second consecutive bowl appearance. Overall Western welcomes back 7 starters on Offense and 3 or 4 on Defense, and starting QB Tim Hiller. All joking aside regarding the last two home opener’s, this one should be a WIN – Michigan has superior talent to limit the WMU offense and the team should be very well prepared. Michigan, 1-0
9/12 Notre Dame – Michigan has enjoyed great success against ND in the last few years, and last years rain soaked game was the perfect storm for the young Michigan team. ND returns virtually their entire offense including Clausen and Tate, and a healthy # of defensive players. This is clearly a pivotal season for Weiss esp. after last year’s – MEH season (7-6) that included an embarrassing loss to Syracuse (adv. Mich DC). ND will be coming off their own opener against a good Nevada team with a high powered offense so there can be no assumption that both teams will be 1-0. Michigan dominated the last home game between these two and there will no doubt be a Clausen/Tate v. Stevie Brown moment. I like to think this one is a tossup in the end so I will handicap it. Michigan 1.5-.5
9/19 Eastern Michigan – I would like to think that this one should go smoothly, and that with two games under our belt this team should have an idea who is under center and there should be no problem with a EMU team that went 2-6 in conference and 3-9 overall (familiar?). Michigan 2.5-.5
9/26 Indiana, Big Ten opener, fourth straight home game, and a team Michigan desperately wishes was on its 2008 schedule (1-7, 3-9). At this point, both teams will have played WMU, so we will certainly have a measuring stick leading up to this game. IU no longer has a QB controversy, as Chappell will be their leader – Kellen Lewis has switched to WR…Reports indicate that IU has a new offense referred to as the “Pistol”, which involves shotgun, the tailback BEHIND the QB, and incorporates the no-huddle. WTF? Indiana has more to overcome than even Michigan does, and this is a home game… Michigan 3.5-.5
10/03 Michigan State, definitely one to circle on the early half of the schedule and the team should certainly be motivated after last year’s loss… For the team, it will be their first game away from Ann Arbor and little brother will certainly put up a big fight after last year’s win. The Spartans (9-4, 6-2) lost QB Brian Hoyer and RB Javon Ringer, but still have seven offensive and eight defensive starters back. Dantonio has recently signaled that the starting QB race between Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol could go all the way into the 2009 season. Cousins has limited game experience as a backup last year and Nichol is a transfer from Oklahoma (from Lowell, MI). Overall this one could go either way… If you go with the logic that Michigan has better talent and should be much improved, then you can be optimistic that they should be in this game… If you think Dantonio is a good coach and is building something at MSU then you are probably pessimistic about our chances. By gameday each team will be well into the season and we will have more answers. Give it to State today, but my heart says a toss-up. Michigan 3.5-1.5
10/10 Iowa, another road game and this one is against a Big Ten team that started 3-3 last year, but finished with a string of big wins including a big one over PSU (also most of their losses were close). Returning QB in Stanzi, who with improvement could be very solid, and good LB core. Tough for Michigan but for the time being we will give it to Iowa… 3.5-2.5
10/17 Delaware State, defer to Brian’s preview around the time they were scheduled. Home game, anything but a win mid season in this one would be a complete embarrassment. 4.5-2.5.
10/24 Penn State, this year @ home, Nick Sheridan should wear street clothes for this one. PSU will have strengths at all the key positions, and Evan Royster by this time should be having a hell of a season. They lose a lot at WR, OL, and Defense, but this is a very talented team. This game hinges on QB play and hopefully the home crowd and a fast start can assist Michigan. PSU has to be a clear favorite in this game. 4.5-3.5
10/31 Illinois, definitely an explosive offense and a road game down in Champagne. Juice is finally a Senior, but future dual threat QB Eddie McGee has been getting time in the slot, so Michigan will get a look at him either way… The Illini sucked last year, except when they roared past UofM, overall their explosive Offense is mostly intact from last year (individual yardage record by Juice at the Big House last year) and this game could end up being a barn burner. I don’t like this one unless the Offense is really clicking, but both teams are coming off poor seasons. Toss-up. Michigan 5-4
11/07 Purdue, hopefully after a good showing at Illinois this is a welcomed home game after a nice win. Michigan could have beaten Purdue last year, except for their one game offensive explosion. Joe Tiller is out the door and replaced by Danny Hope. The offense of the Drew Brees era is long gone and Purdue like Michigan has a laundry list of possible QBs. This one should be a great home game for Michigan. 6-4
11/14 Wisconsin, we stunk in the first half vs. Wisco last year, and several miracles occurred in the second half. They lose PJ Hill (John Clay may be a good enough replacement) who was falling apart and neither their offense nor defense is very spectacular (6 or so returning starters on each). If this was a home game I would figure Michigan for a great shot at victory, I have never been a Beilema fan so maybe I am being too optimistic. But I think a surging Michigan team can win this game. I won’t go too crazy though and will just leave this as a toss-up. 6.5-4.5
11/21 OSU, so many story lines… 5 game losing streak to OSU, Pryor’s first Big House Trip, a Michigan team maybe looking to be bowl eligible. OSU should be good, they return a lot of starters though they lose Laurinaitis and Jenkins on defense. Pryor who had a great frosh campaign should have some good seasoning… hate to say in but they are the conference favorite. Hold it right there… Bo beat an undefeated OSU in his first season, and according to RR’s track record, last year really shouldn’t count as much more than a long series of scrimmages. This game is the biggest of them all and there should be a lot of pride on the line after last year’s embarrassing second half. The week leading up to this game kills my work productivity even when we are the prohibitive underdog. I have to say OSU at this point, but I am hoping for a good level of optimism. 6.5-5.5
Overall I am an optimist, I think we beat either ND or MSU in the first half of the season (both are winnable) and I think we WIN at Illinois in a shootout. I am optimistic that we will be 7-5 next year. However, I think that if we find the luck we never got last year – we have a shot at 8-4, and a Max at 9-3… Our bottom I think is known, there are 4 games on the schedule that should be wins (WMU, EMU, D.State, Indiana) without much contest and that we have to win at least one other game. So 5 wins would be our basement in my opinion.
It’s early… But what are your thoughts?
Also, to my loser friend Rob who reads this blog and refuses to get a login, YOU SUCK!
Scroll down and click on HERE (1st one)
I am sure many of you listen to Dan Patrick and have probably heard this several times on his show. It is worth checking out; you should get a good laugh.
Eamon Brennan points out that Charlie Weis points out that Charlie Weiss, who position-coached a Superbowl-winning team, has friends from when he coached in the NFL*, on a team that won the Superbowl, which is the pinnacle of pro football.
*this is pro football league.
If we win and Duluth wins, we take the 3rd overall seed in the tourney I believe regardless of what happens elsewhere. Can't pass Notre Dame for the #2 seed no matter what.
Currently in good shape, Duluth is up 1-0 after one period, and we lead 2-0 midway through the 2nd period.