In another thread, I offered to post an e-mail exchange that I had with Dave Brandon about a year ago at the beginning of last season. I should probably explain that when it first happened I was too mad to think about posting it, and we were in the midst of a season, then prompty forgot about it during the off-season, when I should have posted it. But now Dave has pissed us off again, and with any luck we will be bidding him adieu soon, so it now seems relevant again.
So, to set the stage: it is the Friday before the 2013 season opener. Michigan had a big stupid Kraft noodle in Michigan stadium. The natives were restless, even MGoShoe. The noodle itself didn't upset me, but rather the slow creep of advertising into the stadium. So although I didn't think that my opinion meant all that much, I figured that I would let the Athletic Department know how I felt. I wasn't expecting a response at all, and I figured that if I did get a response, it would be some boilerplate like, "Dear X, thanks for your feedback and for your continued support of Michigan football! Go blue!" Instead I got snark.
I sent the same e-mail to Dave Brandon and to Brian Townsend:
Dear Mr. Brandon/Mr. Townsend,
As an alumnus and supporter of the University, I was upset to see in the Michigan Daily (http://www.michigandaily.com/
blog/game/football/8-new-) that the Athletic Department is apparently planning to allow Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to advertise inside the grounds of Michigan Stadium. advertisement-blocks-big- house-view-29One of the attractions and important traditions of the stadium experience, in my view, is the lack of advertising. Please do not allow this trend to continue. I would rather pay higher ticket prices than to be subjected to large orange plastic noodles and other such nonsense that significantly detract from my experience.Many thanks in advance and Go Blue!Yours sincerely,[my name]Associate Professor, [my department in the humanities, my university, which is in the AAU]
Dave's response (or perhaps someone in his office?):
[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.Go Blue!
Thanks for your very helpful input!!Much appreciated!!Dave
Brian Townsend's response:
[My first name],
Thanks for your feedback. Your message was heard.
We are looking forward to another exciting weekend in Michigan Stadium. Go Blue!
Dear Brian,Thank you! I was at the Notre Dame game (UTL II) and it was magnificent. I was very impressed with all the work that the Athletics Department does to make the games so enjoyable and seemingly effortless. I know that they are not effortless, and I want to let you know how appreciative I am of all your hard work!Go Blue!
Thanks [my first name]. We appreciate your compliment!
I was upset about Brandon's response. It made me feel more alienated from the University that I love, actually. But here's the thing: it's just really, really stupid of him. He can think one of two things:
- This guy is an idiot.
- This guy is a reasonable person with strongly-held feelings about the University.
If (1), then the best thing is not to reply at all or to send some canned response: "Thanks for your passion! Go blue!" If (2), then the same, or something conciliatory: "Thanks for letting us know you feel, the opinions of fans and alumni are important to us" blah blah blah. I would have been satisfied with that. The only other time I e-mailed the AD about an issue, I received a very conciliatory note saying something like, "Thanks, we are already talking about this internally and we appreciate your input."
What does Dave Brandon gain from picking a fight with an alumnus?
I also think that his response was disingenuous, however. The fact of the matter is that the Kraft noodle was in Michigan Stadium for a promotial event, sure. But that promotional event -- cleverly called "W.O.W. Friday" -- is actually all about football (here's the official description of it). So it's not any old promotional event, but actually one directly tied to the football team and program. And despite the promotional tie-in, they charged $10 a person for access to the stadium! It wasn't even free!
It sounds like other people have had similar experiences to mine, perhaps even worse ones? I'd be interested to hear what other people have to contribute.
Seeing as we just had the annual heights and weights delivered to our doorstep with nary an emotion beyond “these large men either got slightly larger or slightly smaller, and that is good”, there really isn’t much else going on until the season starts. Sure, there was the BBQ and a couple of commitments, but I’d be surprised if much else happened until a couple of days before The Horror II – Horror-ier comes into our lives at the end of August. So yeah, figured I’d dust off this diary and expound a bit on the UM sports landscape, the upcoming football season, college sports in general, and a couple of other topics.
Best: Are You Ready for Some Football!
So it’s been over 8 months since UM last played a down of football (and, frankly, many more months since those downs felt meaningful). I know a great deal has gone on both locally and nationally to put a dour tone on the upcoming season, but I’m just excited for the sport to return and for my fall weekends to have a bit more entertainment. Living in NY but being a Lions fan, I’m forced to watch the Jets and Giants try to out-dryhump doorknobs for 3 hours most weeks, and can usually only catch games with teams I care about on postage stamp-sized feeds from random “sports” sites hosted in countries Russia hasn’t realized they might want to take back yet. But basically every Saturday from August until November I know that I can turn on the television and find some channel with Michigan on it, and for a couple of hours I can be unabashedly zealous over something pretty inconsequential but still incredibly endearing to my heart. That’s why I love the fall, and why I love having Michigan football back in my life.
[After the JUMP: lots more things that are either the best or the worst.]
There has been much debate around our AD and his success (or lack-there-of) in fulfilling his job duties. Many strong, passionate sentiments have come forth on the board. While I love a good “back-and-forth” as much as the next person, there does seem to be a large amount of apples vs. oranges, non sequiturs, straw men, and other nonsensical musings. In an effort to add some clarity to things I created the following Venn diagram. As this very lively discussion continues perhaps you will find this tool useful to better organize your thoughts and make your arguments.
A1 - A place everyone agrees does not exist
A2 - Miami (YTM) circa 1984
A3 - A place fans fear more than death itself
A4 - Brian’s own personal Hell; why $5 is what you will receive from a scalper in exchange for taking his Horror Part II tickets.
B1 - Boise State
B2 - Exists only in Dave Brandon’s Mind; The reason he hired Lochmann
B3 - Slippery Rock at the Big House
B4 - “I am proud to introduce the next director of athletics for Eastern Michigan University, Mr. Hunter Lochmann”
C1 - Oregon
C2 - Alabama
C3 - Duke vs. Arizona Basketball! Prime-time!! For the championship!!! Of the Preseason NIT
It seems to me that the rationale behind these novelty uniforms is that they appeal to players and make the program more attractive to recruits. I have my doubts about that but I'm not in a position to know.
Seems to me though that there's one way to know for sure: put it to a vote of the players. So we do a secret ballot. If they like the unis, the rest of us can put up with them. If the players don't like them, we send them back.
Let the players decide -- whaddya say Brandon?
The article is short, give it a read. I'll post some quotes from it, though, and save my personal comments for a post below.
Brandon said that the department expects to incur about $145.9 million in expenses, giving it a surplus of about $5.2 million.
"Our projected surplus will be a little below previous years, but we'll be ample and our operating surpluses will be reinvested in the facility plans we have (over the next four years)." [Brandon]
Salaries, wages and benefits of department employees account for the largest year-over-year increase. The department budgeted an increase of $3.6 million in salaries for department personnel, making it the largest expanse at $53.2 million.
Team and game expenses are expected to increase to $23.9, up $1.4 million from the previous year, and "other operating and administrative expenses" are projected to increase by $1.1 million.
Nearly $20.4 million is budgeted for financial aid scholarships for student-athletes.
Emphasis mine in the last block quote.
Per a retweet from Ace we should all remember the glass house that is Dave Brandon's Block M Branded Michigan Athletics brought to you by Lowes.
@Leo_Blavin, U-M Student TV Reporter tweets "U-M will be wearing alternate jerses against OSU according to players I have spoken with"
How could this go poorly? Remember that awesome time that some bumblebees in all white played Baylor?
Because why should the best rivalry in sports look anything like it has for years and years when you can try to make a few bucks?