TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
It is a media tradition to hammer at flailing coaches with frowny-face serious questions about how hard everything is on the players and coaches and such because they have to put up with this howling pack of fans. And I try not to get exercised about anything that comes out of that, just like I try to roll my eyes and move on at every article about a triumph in the face of The Critics. Coaches arrive at press conferences at one goal: to get out without saying something notable. When they do say something notable, it is a mistake.
But I'm pissed off anyway. Hoke fielded a question about what is going to be a sea of red in Michigan Stadium:
"You know, people are fickle," Hoke said. "That's just the way it is. That's the world we live in."
This is of course horseshit. It's horseshit on the level of "we need to run a pro-style offense so we can stop Big Ten offense," i.e., the greatest and grandest horseshit in all the world. Hercules is required to shovel this. The big reveal from the last 20 years of media development is that fans are the only people left who aren't fickle. They can't stop watching, and what's more they can't stop watching live with all those lovely commercials interspersed. Fans submit themselves until they have commercials memorized. Until they are legendary.
In all other areas of television consumption I go out of my way to avoid commercials, going so far as to not watch recent seasons of shows I like until they arrive on Netflix. It will be four years before I see the Patton Oswalt filibuster in context. This is why every time a rights deal expires, networks treat the newly single package of games like it's the last cabbage patch doll on Black Friday.
Meanwhile, the people in charge have decided to test the edges of that fandom with an explosion in ticket prices. Paul Campos:
Here’s the price of a regular admission (not student) University of Michigan football ticket over time.
(All figures are in 2012 dollars, rounded to the nearest dollar. I couldn’t find 1970 and 1980 so I substituted the nearest available year).
This year a seat on the 15 yard line is 129 dollars with the PSL, almost three times as much as it was in 2000 and almost four times as much as it was in 1990, in constant 2012 dollars.
Ryan Field was half Michigan fans, for some reason [Bryan Fuller]
In Michigan's specific case, they have beaten Ohio State once in the last nine years and are two-touchdown home underdogs. They are getting gouged on ticket prices in an unprecedented fashion. The athletic department has made it absolutely clear that it has no loyalty to them with "dynamic pricing" that only goes one way. Up.
There is a breaking point for even the most zealous fan. I'm the guy with the blog that's his career and I'm at mine. The only reason I am going on Saturday is because I would feel shame at not going. Absent the weird moral imperatives of fandom, I would be doing anything else. Like bowling, which I hate.
Everybody in blue in that stadium—and it will still be a majority, probably—is paying for the privilege of having their heart punched. Unlike you, they are not getting three million dollars to watch Michigan shuffle around like a syphilitic pig who thinks everything's a truffle. Collectively they are in fact giving you those three million dollars. Collectively they built the stadium you play in and the opulent locker rooms you dress in.
So take your "fickle" and shove it. Angry, sure. Impatient, sure. Because we are locked into this thing we do every week that we pretty much hate. We do so out of a sense of loyalty that the program goddamn well doesn't reciprocate with its 500 dollar waiting lists and worst access level in the country—the team that is going to stuff you in a locker on Saturday has open practices in front of the entire student section—and scheduling goddamned Appalachian State because the athletic director thinks it's cute. Any reasonable person would look at the recent history of Michigan football and go do anything else. We're here because we're locked in.
You? You've got a buyout.
It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.
I'll hate them all the same, but half out of envy this time. They are no longer mindless wallets. They don't give a crap if Brady Hoke calls them fickle, and don't write articles on the internet about it. They are logical people.
The reason Michigan Stadium is going to be half-red on Saturday isn't because of "the world we live in" except insofar as it contains a Michigan football team that people at Abu Ghraib wouldn't show prisoners.
You are a very negative person that I find to be extremely unpleasant.
like the guy who vaguely accuses someone of "quitting" but then doesn't want to tell us who that might be . . . .
Brian isn't mad because of one year of shit offense. He's mad because the athletic department is gouging its most loyal fans, providing a subpar product, and then the coach calls out the fans when they would rather recoup some of that money/time they invested instead of having their emotional state destroyed by said substandard product. Does me wanting to get rid off crappy 2001 Taurus so I can by a better car make me a fickle car owner?
Why shouldn't the fans treat this as just a transaction? It's quite clear that that's exactly how Dave Brandon characterizes it.
So we should be blindly loyal regardless of whether that loyalty is reciprocated? Because... why exactly?
If we're just revenue, then Michigan football is just a product.
I don't want Michigan football to be just a product, hence I'm mad at DB and the rest of the athletic department. But I'm not going to question the ethics of somebody who says "well, if you're going to treat me like a confidence man treats his mark, I'll treat you with the same loyalty".
Last time I checked all the coaches were employees of the athletic department. When you buy tickets or send a PSD, the check goes to the athletic department. The athletic department sets the prices and the policies, maintains the facilities, and "presents" the game experience. So yeah, I expect the athletic department, and by extension DB its leader, to treat the fans with a little loyalty if they expect it in return.
Instead they treat fans with contempt - constantly raising prices, reneging on deals (e.g. how the Victors Club got marginalized), and pushing the boundaries of what fans will accept (giant noodles, seat cushion bans, no outside water) with frankly insulting explanations (it's for safety! We never meant for the noodle to stay!)
That's not how you treat a loyal customer who you value. That's how you treat a chump you're trying to take for all he's got.
Two years from now, without progress that you deem sufficient, it will be OK for a fan to sell his ticket. But at this particular moment, three years into Brady Hoke's tenure, with a record-worst performance for a Michigan offense, it is not OK. Please keep us posted so we'll know how to be proper Michigan fans . . . .
but since we're not talking about firing Hoke, I don't understand your point. In the post that I responded to, you were advising us all about acceptable "fandom," explaining (I thought) that selling a ticket two years from now would be OK but not this weekend.
"Now, if we're in year 5 and prices keep going up and the losses continue to pile on and no changes are made, that's a completely different story."
I think Brian's point is that we are going on about 10 years of this with prices hitting astronomical levels. Whether you want to argue that changes have been made along the way, we still have 1 win against OSU in the past 9 years and have lost 5 of 6 against MSU so it doesn't look like we are making the right kind of change.
While I agree with almost everything, if not everything, Brian actually said in his post, it is not responsive to the simple comment made by Hoke in a press conference in which he was attempting, as Brian noted, not to say anything.
You don't like Brandon stupidly shitting on his fans/customers? Okay, fine. No one does. But don't shit on Hoke for having to steer around an awkward question about the fans selling their tickets to OSU fans. What is he supposed to say? He said "fickle." He means "fair-weathered," which is exactly what we are. We want to watch Michigan win, but not lose. Where is the honor in that?
Oh, we pay too much for tickets? Brandon takes advantage to our loyalty (one premised on expectations of winning) and abuses us? All true. But if we really supported our team and our school, we would be with them (players, and yes, even coaches) through thick and thin (but not necessarily at all financial cost imposed by Brandon). If you don't like the price, don't buy the tickets. The problem this week is not people refusing to buy tickets. They bought them months ago. They are selling them at a loss in order to avoid standing in support, bearing witness, whatever. They/we are being cowards. And that is Hoke's point.
Like that any better, Brian?
Fair weather fans? Fickle? No.
It's not like this is a single down season amidst an otherwise unbroken string of championships, BCS bowl appearences, etc. We're talking about a program that has been schooled by our biggest rivals (save Notre Dame) almost each year since, well, 2008. That's six seasons ago for those of you playing at home.
Except for a single, two-loss season in 2006, we're looking at mediocrity stretching back for more than a decade, all the while "bearing witness," in exchange for the privilege of getting our pockets picked.
And it's not like Hoke didn't himself acknowledge in his first press conference that Michigan fans should expect more from the program. After all, he was the one who said, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes."
"We want to watch Michigan win, but not lose."
Speak for yourself as I find that to be total bullshit. I can watch them lose so long as it is the right way - meaning the kids are 100% preprared, the strategy employed by the coaches is the optimal strategy - but for other reasons they lose. We are nowhere near that at present moment and seem to be getting worse by the week. I don't have to be happy about my multi-million dollar coach making these kids look like they don't know what they are doing. Especially when the kids are killing themselves trying to right the ship.
"Fickle" is defined by Webster as "marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability : given to erratic changeableness." That is the wrong word, as the Michigan faithful have been steadfast for decade upon decade. Hoke is likely simply upset that his seniors will play The Game in a scarlet Michigan Stadium, and I bet that's the mindset through which he is viewing the situation. Thousands of his team's fans would rather save $50 or so to not sit in the cold and, presumably, watch his team get demolished. If you presented it to him in that way, if you asked him if he thinks a "true fan" would pay the $50 to watch this game, I bet he would answer it differently. I think it is a matter of perspective and frustration, not a case of him actually disliking a "fickle" fanbase. Naturally, i can't back this up with anything but speculation, and I understand why the anger is boiling over from the fanbase, but I think it was simply a poorly-chosen word.
The end of this year feels so much like the end of 2010. Perhaps we can play the Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl too?
What was lost in Brian's article about the fans being fickle is why Brady said it. If you read the article, Brady is talking about how disappointed he is that fans are jumping ship for SENIOR DAY. Fans who choose not to go to a game they have already paid for because they can't stomach watching Ohio beat us again, that is is fickle.
Go to the game to cheer for the seniors on this team that have gone through Hell and back a few times over their careers here. Go to cheer for Taylor Lewan, who came back to fight for this university rather than be a top 5 draft pick last spring. Go cheer for every other senior that had to put up with Rodriguez fiasco, the elation of 2011 and then the sinking of this year. Go support all of the recruits and visitors and show them that this fanbase won't turn on them if they dare to go 7-5 in a season.
We aren't angry at the kids on the field, so go to the game and support them. If you are angry with Brady, or Al, or even Greg, then complain to Dave Brandon or don't renew your season tickets, or whatever. Just don't take it out on the kids on the field.
That rant was well put, Brian. I have missed exactly two home games since 1976 and will be there on Saturday. I'll go alone if I have to and sell my extra ticket for whatever I can get. For Nebraska I found NO friends that either could or would pay half of face value for the game so I went alone. I sold my extra ticket for five bucks and felt lucky to do so. FOR FREAKING NEBRASKA! Since I went alone I walked from Eisenhower and Main so that I did not spend another $50 for parking. FIFTY dollars to park.
I never worried about how much I paid for parking since I had a season pass which I bought with my renewal. Now my priority points aren't even high enough that I can buy a parking pass even though I have a degree from the university, am a season ticket holder since 1977, former season basketball ticket holder, have attended numerous away games, bowl games (through the university's official program), basketball, and hockey games. My son has a degree from the university paid for without financial aid. I also have donated money to the university for more than 20 consecutive years, and in addition to my normal donation I was a Victor's club member since the mid 1990s...before a PSD was ever a thought.
Am I fickle, or is the university that gives me lower priority than someone who recently wrote a big check fickle?
I will go on Saturday, and as if that wasn't enough, the visiting section will begin in the row in front of me. I will put up with whatever they have to say and hopefully do it with class because what else can I do...argue that our football team somehow is on the same level as theirs?
I like Hoke and suspect he would rephrase the "fickle" comment if he could. But I would feel a lot better had he won 7 game in his first season, 9 in the next, and 11 in his 3rd instead of the other way around. I hope Borgess doesn't become Hoke's Greg Robinson, but the whole thing makes me sad.
I hope you are near well-mannered visitors on Saturday.
you might guess that i'm not entirely sympathetic, and that's true, but i think there's a pretty clear reason a person like you is seeing his buying power go down: the new undergrads are overwhelmingly from out of state.
i went to Michigan for the last two years, and taught undergrads the second of those. SO MANY of them are from the NY/NJ area. many more now than ten years ago. and out of state tuition is EXPENSIVE. this is why Ann Arbor has (arguably) the best restaurants in Michigan, with more on the way, and it's why they can't build highrise apartment buildings fast enough.
so, i'm not saying you can't afford it - you may well be able to - but things are going to keep getting more expensive in Ann Arbor, and especially for campus things, in the near future. it probably doesn't matter how bad the football team gets.
(meanwhile, i revel in the fact that the most meaningful game in the big ten this year is MSU and OSU.)
Really? 3 years as head coach, 2 years of elite level recruiting and improving defense every year and you're ready to fire him?
The offense has been the problem. We all know Hoke is a defensive coach. The defensive line is improving this year, an area Hoke wanders often.
We need changes on offense. Hoke is the man for the job.
Thank the lord you don't make the decisions.
The emperor has no sleeves.
You show up to the game because anything can happen. Because that's what makes sports exciting and worth the experience of showing up. I'm driving 10 hours on Friday and back another 10 hours Sunday morning to see my team take on the Buckeyes. Yea, they may get smashed in the face, but I sure as heck don't wanna miss it if they don't.
We need to back off on Hoke too. I understand his comment was stupid and seemingly "against us" the fans but this guy loves Michigan football, he loves the university and he loves his players. Yea loyalty can be somewhat stubborn, but I'll take that over Urban using his family as an excuse to get out of the Florida job and then apparently watching his children "grow up" in less than a year while working as an analyst. I'll take Hoke any day. If this ship is burning, then heck, I'm going down with it. Those who stay...
That is probably the best, most truthful line on this blog in the last three years.
So much for mailing it in.
brady hoke has a comment at a presser yesterday and refers to fans as "fickle."
there are 117 comments about said presser already on the frontpage, none of which even reference the fickle comment.
there are no board postings about the fickle comment.
AND YET, brian posts this rant, at which point a majority of the 140+ comments have agreed this is the most egregious betrayal, a slap to the face of all michigan fans everywhere.
does anyone think for themselves anymore on this board, or do we always have to wait for brian to tell us how we should feel?
I came to my own feelings on my own. I do not like having a multimillion dollar coach who throws his players under the bus, and then the fans too, but gives his right hand man a pass. Yeah, that's my own original thought.
did you check that it was the same people posting on each thread? because then you'd be onto something.
as for "anyone thinking for themselves", like most of us around here, I ask my mama first. my mama knows what's right and what's wrong.
that this is Brian's blog. While I enjoy reading posts of many here--and enjoy hating the posts of others--and have a source to share my babblings--I am most certainly not here to read what you have to say, nor you me. I came here, in part, because Brian does his homework, but more particularly because he writes well--as do many others writing on page 1. What he wrote today is purely an encapsulation of what has been written endlessly here the past 6-8 weeks. It's always reassuring to believe the other side are merely sheep.
Cosign completely. Seriously, there are websites that I used to like. Either I changed, or they changed, but, hey, I moved on and found other websites. That's the beauty of the internet. If you don't like this one, gtfo. I mean, I remember reading this blog when you couldn't create your own content, and I'll be damned if I wouldn't rather go back to that right about now for a week or three (with apologies to bronxblue and the ST3 guy who do the day after recaps that are top notch). Humorously, some in the readership who deride Brian are guilty of some of the same behavior they accuse Brian of exhibiting toward the Michigan program. Life is funny like that sometimes.
"Fuck-You-and-the-Horse-You-Rode-Into-Town" that I have ever read, and I could not agree more. Well done.
Nothing supports Hoke's assertion more than this post right here - an angry diatribe about a fairly innocuous comment given by a guy who doesn't choose the ticket prices.
I'm sorry, Brian. I get your point (prices are high, the product isn't worth it, etc.), but part of being a FAN is being with your team through thick and thin. Most people didn't expect Michigan to end up a 7-5 team this year (which is how they'll likely finish), but this is The Game. Fans shouldn't abandon ship when things go poorly. Should Brady Hoke have lobbied for jacking up ticket prices in 2011 when he took us on an 11-2, Sugar Bowl-winning ride? Should he stand there and lobby for lowering ticket prices now that the team is having a disappointing year? Should he apologize for his salary?
We expect too much from football coaches these days. Things are going poorly on the field, and I'm sure no one feels the weight of that more than Hoke. Now we're holding him accountable for saying "People are fickle" when you know damn right that what he says is true. If you don't believe him, look at the guys calling for Beilein's head late last basketball season. Look at the people who tried to send Rich Rodriguez packing almost immediately.
I'm naturally loyal - to my family, my friends, my players, my coaches, my bosses, etc. Maybe to a fault. But if I could (my schedule won't allow it), I would pay full price to be there on Saturday, if only to keep a Buckeye fan out of the stadium. Because I'm a fan of the football team and the school, and I realize that if everyone does their part to be a loyal fan, things might be a little bit better. Instead, people whine and complain, as if the $95 they spent on the ticket originally will be better used because now it will buy that necessary breakfast or get them off the street.
The fans in Michigan Stadium pay for their game tickets or season tickets out of their DISPOSABLE income. If it's the difference between paying the rent or not, then by all means, sell the ticket. Let an OSU fan in the gate. But if there are any morons out there who buy football tickets when they can't buy life's necessities, then they're probably not capable of reading through this thread.
I wish so many people would stop bitching, as if anyone's going to solve world hunger on Saturday afternoon instead. As if you truly need the money in your wallet.
Life sucks sometimes. Get over it.
Amen. Well said, Magnus. Agree 100%.
Best post today. By far.
Yes -- this!!
I think Brian generally does a good job of capturing the average fan's reaction and putting it into pretty workds - but have to agree with Magnus on this one. I believed in RR and didn't want to see him go, but now that the change has been made I believe in Hoke and believe he deserves more patience and better support than he has been shown thus far
You forgot about Mrs. Hughes, as always:
To quote: We expect too much from football coaches these days.
When the organization he represents squeezes every last dollar they can get out of the fanbase, the expectations should be extrememly high. The ability of the football program and the AD to extract so much from the fans is built on the expectation of winning. Frankly, Hoke has had a free pass to this point when he should have taken far worse from the fans and media.
How many season ticket holders that have put up with the garbage on the field since 2003 are fickle if they decide that they are going to try and recapture some of the dollars DB & Co have sucked out of them? Hoke gave his good friend and lousy OC Al Borges a huge raise to $650k before the 2012 season. He doesn't seem to mind spending the fruits of DB's ticket price and PSD increases on his cronies that clearly don't deserve it.
To call the people that pay for everything that he is receiving fickle is crap. Some of us have decided that driving hours and spending an entire day to support this very poor football team is no longer a wise decision.
If seeing the Stadium full of Buckeyes is the wakeup call that Hoke and DB need to make some changes and start treating the fans better, then maybe more of us "fickle" fans should opt out.
Thanks Magnus. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.
The point is that loyal fans are being asked to cough up an ever larger chunk of their disposable income, to the point where what used to be an easily justified expense is now rising into "tough choices" category. And Dave Brandon has zero problem with that, because he'd rather have wealthy fans than loyal ones. He wants to maximize revenue, and if your particular seat is filled by an ass that paid more, well, that's an unadulterated good. Tickets in your family for years? Too damn bad, watch the game at home, you peon, I've got donors palms to grease.
And I think it's right that he be called out on that.
Maybe fickle fans upset Hoke. He's certainly loyal if anyone is. But he ought to look at his boss before he casts stones.
Well, that seems like a fair point to make...at the expense of David Brandon. I'm not sure what that has to do with Brady Hoke.
I think Brian is using Hoke's comment as a jumping off point to gripe about DB and the athletic department in general. Sort of a "let's talk about this word, fickle". I stopped reading it as an indictment of Hoke as soon as he got to a table of ticket prices.
Anyway, your mileage may vary but I thought it was fair to use Hoke's line as a rhetorical jumping off point.
I'm also a coach and understand your loyalty to players and other coaches, Magnus. But if you think the rant was about Hoke calling fans fickle, I think you missed the larger point.
Hoke is in a high-visibility position. When you make $3M a year, you have to play the PC game. You can't call your paying customers, fans, alumni, etc "fickle." It's dumb, misguided and counter-productive. But it isn't the biggest deal in the world.
It is, however, yet another middle finger to the fans from the athletic department. It's a "jumping off point" or the "tipping point" or whatever you want to consider it. The AD is gouging its customers. I don't think anyone can really argue against that. They are doing it at a time when watching from home has become exponentially a better option and when the product is decidedly not good. And they don't care. They are taking advantage of alumni would are the exact opposite of fickle: They'll come back for their love of this great Michigan of ours.
It is our un-fickle-ness that the AD is taking advantage of - thus the rant. The fact that Hoke said it is a little aloof (coming from a $3M a year man), but not the main point.
We've been told in word and deed by Brandon and the AD that we really don't matter.
But to hear Brady Hoke say it? It's crushing.
to argue gouging but first you need to provide the formula you use to determine the break point of gouge / not gouge. I would be equally interested to know if you have a formula to determine at which point customers are taking undo advantage when a business is having a fire sale or some such thing.
But here I could not agree with you more.
All of this from using the word ‘fickle’ in response to a question about the possibility of there being more buckeye fans than Michigan fans this Saturday. And a relatively insignificant question at that.
Let’s think about this. Was Hoke simply expressing how disappointing it would be if this situation materialized on Saturday, for the players, especially the seniors who are playing their last home game? Or in that second he had to form a response to the hypothetical, do people really think he was going over pricing schemes/increases in his head and trying to take a shot at the fans regardless?
Not sure the context of which he was responding to the question requires a tantrum. Come on, man.
Maybe the Michigan high school coaches shouldn't have been fickle when RichRod was coach and given him his full support. Their fickleness surely cost us a lot more than fan's "fickleness".
Edit: fans' fickleness
I'm starting to like you much more than I used to. Whatever changed, stick with it. You're alright. I'm 100% serious, and this comment made me consider having a babby with you...