I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
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.
Interesting to see where they slot UM in the list.
Let me start off on a bit of a personal note: each of the past three years, my girlfriend (username megangoblue) and I have gotten each other late Christmas presents. I believe this started by spending Christmas apart our first year, but now it's a tradition between the two of us. Long story short, we needed to be in Ann Arbor today, Wednesday 1/9/13, which coincided with a basketball game that wouldn't get much attention on StubHub or from scalpers, #2 M v. unranked Nebraska. She managed to buy great tickets for the two of us: Section 134, Row 9, Seats 9-10-11-12 that we shared with my uncle and cousin. The happy couple, arriving to our seats:
This was the first MBB game I've been to, and we were definitely going for the full MBB experience: a nationally televised game with tickets nine rows off the court in an seemingly brand new stadium. I can't describe how much fun I've had tonight; from walking the concourse before the game, seeing the now famed waterfall, the maize and blue lighting outside, and most of all the #2 team in the nation take on an overmatched (but still Big Ten) squad from Lincoln. Michigan didn't shoot particularly well, and Nebraska stuck around too long, but a win is a win, and I'll remember this one forever.
One of the cool things about this section were the people who happened to be populating it. The entire womens cross country team took up a few rows just below us, and below them in Row 1 sat Taylor Lewan, Jake Ryan and Drew Dileo. At halftime, gathering some courage, I went to talk to our favorite LB with feathered locks while Lewan was whisked away somewhere, no doubt being congratulated by people far more connected and powerful than I for his decision to return for the 2013 season [ed: according to M-Wolverine it was a radio interview]. Approaching him, Ryan is a big guy, but certainly not a monster (although his hands approach monster territory). He was very polite and thanked me after I congratulated him on his past two seasons and wished him luck in the next two. He agreed to take a couple pictures with us, one turned out okay:
We went to the concourse to grab a four dollar bottle of water, and when we came back there was a 6'8 309lb LT standing on the corner of the court, talking to people with badges and little kids, maybe a few pretty girls too. Heading straight past our seats and down to the court (also thinking that Ryan might be laughing at us a bit in his head as we passed him again), we walked towards Lewan, who is an absolute mountain of a man in person. Talking to Lewan was surprisingly easy, especially considering how well he stood up to a potential number one pick just eight days ago, and his sheer size (which is every bit as big as advertised).
When I asked Mr. Lewan if he would mind taking a picture, he was polite (I'm noticing a theme here) and obliged, although the fellow fan nice enough to take the shot only took one, and it didn't turn out so well:
Megan had started on my right side with my arm around her when Lewan quipped, "I know y'all are dating but this picture's gonna look better with her on my side too". That got a chuckle at the time and a bit of a laugh later. I told him how much his return meant to so many people, and he shook my hand (mine promptly disappeared in his ridiculously big hands) and told me he was glad.
I know others have better shots down on the board, but here is Lewan conducting the band:
A win is a win:
And my favorite girl near one of my favorite symbols:
Go Blue, good night, and thanks for reading.