exit the Washington Generals
Over three years ago, immediately after Dave Brandon announced the hiring of Brady Hoke as the new University of Michigan football coach, MVictors came out with what I consider to be the definitive summary of the Michigan fan culture. We were divided then, some of us acrimoniously, and with Michigan poised to begin another coaching search, the factions have begun to show their ugly faces again. There is less division now over whether the coach should go or stay, but who should take over, who is worthy to lead us out of the desert into the Promised Land, that is still very much a point of contention with many in the Michigan family.
For those of you who have been around here for awhile, this will look familiar. Brian featured it on UV after it came out. MGoShoe started a thread where you were able to share which faction you best fit into. If you’re new around here, I encourage you to click over to MVictors and check it out, because it’s really outstanding.
I didn’t bother to reassess the breakdown of each group, but certainly some clans have grown and some have shrunk. In 2011, here’s how the folks at MVictors saw things:
With Michigan poised on the cusp of what appears to be another change in leadership of the football program and perhaps the Athletic Department as a whole, it seems relevant to have a look another look at our collective culture and what value unite us and what ones separate us and remember that ultimately, we all want the same thing; for Michigan to win and be Michigan again.
They weren’t really in Hoke’s corner when he was hired, but liked his rhetoric and were impressed with his recruiting. Things looked encouraging when he went 11-2, but the gradual decline over the next 2.5 years is undeniable. These are the guys who bristle the most at all the Hoke hand-clapping and talk of toughness that never seems to make it to the field. They are aghast that Hoke allows David Brandon to micromanage the football program they way he does. They want Brandon gone yesterday and Hoke let go after this season is over and give Jim Harbaugh whatever he wants to come back to Ann Arbor.
Still pissed and their ranks are swelling. Feeling a bit vindicated that Hoke’s version of Manball has fallen flat. Chafed over watching Denard line up under center as Borges tried to hammer that square peg into that round hole. Apoplectic that a player of Devin Gardner’s caliber is being wasted doing the same thing. These guys want Hoke gone NOW! Want Brandon gone NOW! You saw a lot of them on the news last week marching around The Diag and the President’s Residence. These folks are the most annoyed with the Michigan Man meme and while they would accept Jim Harbaugh, believe he’s not coming and think somebody like Dan Mullen is a perfect guy to come in and finally move this program forward.
Corduroy Jacket w/Patch Clan
Feeling uneasy and a little put-out that Hoke hasn’t been successful and that Brandon continues to commit PR gaffe after PR gaffe. Michigan being dragged through the mud in virtually every national media outlet over Concussiongate is the worst thing ever. They just want this shit to go away and for everyone to get along again. Still, our future falls disproportionately in their hands right now, as we’re unsure if the head of this clan, President Schlissel, is up to the task of righting the ship.
In Rod We Trusted
As always, closely allied with The Rebellion, but their ranks have thinned with time. Also feeling vindicated watching Hoke fall flat while Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats sit atop the Pac-12 undefeated and sporting a sexy upset over Oregon. Annoyed with being right back we were in 2011 facing another coaching search and talking about viable candidates when they still believe that we could’ve avoided a lot of this if we had just given the man a fair chance to succeed. The next coach should be the best candidate for the job and anyone talking about Michigan Men should be taken out back and shot. Oh yeah, and fire Dave Brandon. Giving the collective finger to….
These are the only guys still firmly in Hoke’s corner, stubbornly insisting that he’s a good coach and will succeed at Michigan if just given time. They’re not happy with Dave Brandon and want to see him gone, but Hoke is their guy. Their ranks have been dwindling for years now, but unfortunately, since they mostly consist of Lloyd’s ex-players at this point, they have a lot of inside access to the program and are a serious challenge to any kind of wholesale culture change.
Cotton Pickin’ Blues
The biggest group and the biggest reason why Michigan Stadium looks so empty this year and the resale market for tickets is so poor. These fans have simply checked out. Dave Brandon has disenfranchised these folks with neutral site body bag games against Alabama, noodles, RAWK music and the general NFLization of the Michigan football experience. Done with Hoke as well, as this is not Michigan. Don’t really have a favorite replacement in mind, because, frankly, at this point, they just don’t care anymore. These are the folks that successors to Brandon and Hoke will have the work the hardest to get back.
They were 100% behind Hoke coming into this season and thought any talk of Hoke’s seat being warm or setting a win threshold on retaining him for his 5thseason was ludicrous. Have come to the sad conclusion in the past few weeks that things around Hoke have gotten just too toxic and his job is not salvageable. These guys don’t really have a preferred replacement in mind, they will back him no matter what, but they hope for an inspiring choice.
The Second Estate
These are the guys that are still firmly in Brandon’s corner. See Stephen Ross. Keep Hoke, fire Hoke. Whatever; Brandon knows best. Just as long as their access to the program is not affected, they will ultimately be satisfied. These folks would probably be the most wary of a strong coaching hire, like Jim Harbaugh, that might put their access in jeopardy.
The Decatur Clan
These folks are still somewhat in Hoke’s corner if only because what about the kids? These are the guys who came back to watch the finish of the Utah game who weren’t Utah fans (so yeah, not Ace). They bristle at pyrrhic talk of boycotts and public protests and want to believe beyond all hope that Hoke is going to right the ship, the light is finally going to come on for this team, and we will have our revenge against MSU and OSU. They haven’t considered a good replacement for Hoke, because a real Michigan fan wouldn’t have turned their back on this team while there is still season left. Will get behind whoever is hired once that decision / announcement is made.
MLive spoke with Don Canham's widow and it's obvious she's not happy with what's happening at Michigan.
Recently, the widow of the “father of modern college athletics directors” has begun to add her voice to the chorus expressing concern that the powerhouse built by Canham is in jeopardy of losing its luster.
“I’m just devastated that his lifetime at the school—he was there for 50 years as a student, a coach and an athletic director—to see that his legacy is going down the drain, that’s what I’m angry about,” Margaret Canham-Keeley said.
It's worth a read to see that even Canham, who was an innovator his time, got some pushback but obviously ended up being a pioneer as an athletic director.
For those of you who hate Mondays as it is. don't click here.
I did, and now I feel worse than I did before.
Except that Hoke is No. 9 on the list, somehow below Dana Holgorson and Norm Chow. So that's a good thing, right? Errr....maybe not.....Goddammit!
The Fab Five,
1997 Football Season and
2013 Championship Pre-Game
The Fab Five:
debuted at now destroyed Cobo Arena against the University of Detroit. Seating under 12,000, Cobo was still a bigger venue than U of D's home court, Calihan Hall.
I decided to go to see the show. I believe they were on the floor together for less than two minutes. I remember lots of turnovers, but we won easily.
Most of the Fab Five games were on TV, and they were great, and fun to watch, back to back Final Fours, off to the NBA.
And then. The scandal. Ed Martin, somehow identifed as a UM "booster," had given money to Michigan players.
A rally for Steve Fisher was held at the Michigan Theatre featuring Jim Brandstatter, among others.
Two days later, he was fired.
So, I tell my daughter, here is my recollection suffused with what I was told by reliable, or maybe not so reliable, sources.
Ed Martin was supposedly a UAW retiree who just liked to be nice to the kids in the hood, though, the better you were at basketball, the nicer he was.
He was never a guy who said, if you go to such and such school, I will reward you. He also gave some kids, like Mr. Webber, money before they were even in high school.
He gave money to kids who went to other schools, like Missouri.
But he was on the Michigan coaches list for comp tickets to some games.
The feds were after him for running a numbers game, an illegal lottery. Turns out gambling profites were the real source of his largesse.
That investigation took forever.
Pure hearsay, as they say in my business, is that the U. S. Attorney in charge of the investigation was a Notre Dame grad who hated Michigan, and so dragged things out on purpose.
Martin himself even died before he could be tried.
It seems to me that, at some point, the focus of his gift giving changed from buying big man on the street status, to laundering his gambling gains. The Webber and post-Webber beneficiaries are alleged to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of Webber's problems was that Martin was trying to get his money back, and Webber said, what money?
Grand juries are one of the least democratic institutions still allowed in our democracy. There is no right to have your attorney present while you are being questioned as a witness. You can be subpoenad, that is, forced under the contempt power, to appear as a witness. If you decline, you can be jailed for contempt until you do testify.
Now, the first rule of practicing criminal law is, get your fee up front. The second rule is, never let your client testify before a grand jury until he is granted immunity for prosecution for anything he testifies about. If the government balks at immunity; your client invokes his 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refuses to testify.
Alas, Mr. Webber's attorney botched this simple rule and allowed him to testify without immunity, and, for reasons still unknown, he lied about getting money from Martin.
Now, there is NCAA law/rules, whatever, which readers of this blog know to be Byzantine, archaic, unfair, unevenly applied, et cetera, and, there is criminal law.
It is perjury to lie to a grand jury, and Mr. Webber copped a plea to that.
Jalen Rose did testify, and freely stated that Martin gave him a few dollars here and there on many occasions. Far as I know, he did so without immunity, but told the truth, so no criminal issue.
However, NCAA issues remained.
There is nothing illegal, or, even immoral, about accepting a gift of money from, anyone. The other three of the Fab Five were not from the Detroit area, and outside the influence of Mr. Martin.
So, the ten year ban on contact from Michigan with the Fab Five ended May, 2013.
Athletic Director Dave Brandon has said Webber has to come forward and take responsibility for his actions. Jalen Rose has intimated the same. Who knows how it will turn out.
Like many others, I have had enough of the Webber drama.
Now, team 84 of Michigan basketball said they welcomed the support of the Fab Five, even donning haircuts honoring them before one game. I believe the Maize hoodies they wore for the Indiana home pre-game were a sort of tribute. So, I yield to the team's wishes on their attendance at the title game.
But this Webber drama, will he or won't he? In our seats before the game, tweets from everyone that Webber was there with his girl friend, but, NOT sitting with the rest of his former teammates.
To whom, according to King and Rose, he has not spoken in over 20 years.
Message to Chris: get over your bad self.
* * * * *
Fortunately, Erin did not fall asleep during this fascinating factual recital from her father.
The weather was great. At one gas stop, I bought a sub and posed with it in front of my face while wearing my "We had subs It was crazy" M Go Blog shirt.
Erin switched from listening to me to her preferred young country music on the radio.
No calls or emails on tickets.
I texted Matt, host of our football tailgate, that I planned on meeting him at his hotel. I figured if I scored some tickets off Craig's list, I would need to print them out somewhere, and I could get that done at the hotel.
My oldest, Janell, could not make this trip, but she saw the 1998 Rose Bowl with me, so she said she had her championship, and this would be Erin's turn.
* * * * *
That game was a BIG ticket issue. I wanted to set up the Rose Bowl trip before the Ohio game, but my wife said oh, no, remember that one year, you got tickets for me and my cousin, and Iowa ended up going. Bad luck to count your chickens before they hatch.
So, we end up with flights that routed through Philadelphia. Whatever. We get there, free lodging at my aunt's house in Arcadia, home of the Santa Anita racetrack.
We left with both girls and without any game tickets.
On arriving at my aunt's, we discover that my dentist's son has a pair we could have. Alleluia!
Turns out he bought two as a Michigan employee, for his brother to use, as he had a conflict because of a wedding to attend. The brother already had tickets from another source, and the dentist, a long time family friend, knew we were looking. Cool.
Erin was not yet 7 at the time, but I still looked for two more tickets, so that we all could go.
Staying out over night on the street on Colorado Boulevard to have front row seats for the parade was part of our plan. I had done this on all three of my prior Rose Bowl trips, and my wife was with me the last time, the loss to UCLA.
I made a sign that said "Need Rose Bowl Tickets" and walked up and down the middle of Colorado Boulevard, a couple of hours before the parade, in front of, literally, tens of thousands of people.
I had two offers, for single tickets, $300 each. I declined.
Should have taken them, turns out they were going for $1,000 a piece before kickoff.
Anyway, my wife said too much money, I will just stay with Erin, you and Janell go.
And lifetime memories were made as we won an exciting game and rejoiced in a perfect season and national championship, and the end of my 0 and 5 personal bowl record.
A Michigan fan sitting next to us thought to offer to take our picture, and it sits proudly on the shelf, each of us smiling broadly and holding up a finger signifying Michigan: #1.
* * * * *
So, we make it to the Atlanta hotel, which is the team hotel, crammed with Michigan fans. The whole interior is an open atrium to the top floor. From the 5th floor, Matt points out where the Robinson family hung out, where the Hardaway family gathered, where the band studied, and so on.
Still no tickets.
So I call my friend back in Ann Arbor, hey, don't have any yet, does your friend still have two?
Let me check, he says.
Back and forth on cell phones, leaving messages, eventually hook up, yes, still available, you can have them, meet us at 8:30 at a specified spot at the stadium.
Matt says hey, we are on the first bus, which, for some reason, leaves before the team, but you can stay and watch them board the bus.
Cool, says Erin.
There is an L shaped line, cordoned off, with some of the band inside, playing our favorite tunes. Maybe 70 or 80 Michigan fans press around the edge. The players and staff enter from the long end of the L, and walk to the corner turning left along the short section of the L that leads outside to the bus. Applause and camera clicks greet each personage. Horford picks up a 3 year old girl from the front row and hoists her above his head, much to her delight.
Of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I notice Mr. Brandon, decked out in a striped blue power suit, just behind me to my left, wearing a puzzled expression as he looks around at the folks in front of him.
My first thought is, he must know how to get on the bus, he would have been on it Saturday, what is the deal?
So I say: May I help you, sir?
We have spoken at events before but I am sure he will not remember me.
And he says, well, I am trying to figure out, how to, -
Then he realizes there is no restraint, just people standing along the short side of the L, and he works his way through.
Damn. I was going to jump in and part the sea for him. Oh, well.
The fan to my left, pushing age 70, says Who was that.
Dave Brandon, says I.
Who is that?
The athletic director for the University of Michigan.
Excited utterance: "He just brushed my clothes!"
* * * * *
The team is off and so should we be. Let's stop and eat, save money over stadium concession prices, and we have enough time.
As I am buying, Erin's agreement is readily secured.
Turns out I got half of a free salad at Wendy's; I stopped eating after pulling a six inch hair out of my meal. No time to order another.
Vehicles multiplying as I approach our parking lot goal when the phone rings.
My ticket connection says: Hey, traffic was not bad for us, we are here early. I look at the clock. Yeah, I think, over half an hour early.
She starts giving directions after I state my location. I am being spoken to as if I were a lifetime Atlanta resident familiar with each street instead of someone who stopped here once for a few hours in 1972.
I see an open lane and veer into it while trying to explain no, I do not know the northeast corner of whatever, when I realize the lane was free because the oncoming traffic was stopped on the other side of the light.
I yell that I have to get off as I am going the wrong way on a one way street and drop my phone on the floor.
Ahh. Calm restored as I am allowed back to the correct side of the thoroughfare, and we proceed to our destination, which looks full already.
No problem, says the parking lot attendant, just follow my directions, leave enough room for the car in the corner next to the entrance to get around you, and you will be fine. OK, spatially challenged as I am, I figure it out, I will be unblocked, in front of the other car, next to the driveway. A perfect location for the quick getaway we need.
One of the great things about Michigan is the extended twilight at our latitude, and, that we are on the edge of the Eastern time zone, so the sun sets later.
Conversely, in Atlanta, it is getting dark much earlier, as we try to locate the folks who still have our tickets, or so I think, having been told only that it is "complicated."
We eventually find each other in the increasingly massive throng pressing into the cordoned off lanes that lead into the stadium.
I am told by one of the four, two couples, that we have to get to the gate before the tickets can even be printed. Yes, that qualifies as complicated.
Even though these tickets were purchased a year ago, they can ONLY be printed when the charge card used to buy them is scanned through a contraption on the belt of the usher, which then prints out four tickets, each the size of a business card. Cool.
We are inside the stadium with the tickets in hand, having yet to be told the price. I am hoping I have enough cash to cover it; Stub Hub prices were not below $245 when I landed these.
Let's see, one of the women says to her husband. They cost $270, and there were two games Saturday, so three games in all, is $90 OK?
Uh. Yes. I pay the $180 and, so far, everything is breaking our way.
While it probably won't change anything, the least we can do is try to fight Brandon's insanity. Someone created a petition on change.org to get the band to travel to Dallas. Sign the petition below, join the resistance!