So I assume the Daily publicly went out to make sure everyone knew that there wasn't a secret press conference in which the university deliberately excluded them? That, in fact, the Daily started portraying themselves as a persecuted party publicly without actually figuring out the facts? Of course they didn't. Journalism!
Unverified Voracity Isn't Perfectly Accurate, Surprise
Penn State on the docket. Michigan goes to Happy Valley for their first-ever games against the nascent Nittany Lion program. As you might expect, Penn State is not particularly good. They're 4-17-1 on the season, 0-8 in the league, and have been outscored 35-13 in those eight games.
They've had some close outings, including one-goal losses to Minnesota and Boston College in January; they're still real bad. Not a huge surprise when they have zero seniors. Goaltending is a major issue, with both platoon-mates under .900; leading scorer Eric Scheid has a 10-5-15 line.
Michigan needs to sweep this series if they're going to maintain any hopes of winning the league. That door opened up a bit yesterday when Wisconsin beat Minnesota 2-1. Michigan can draw within six, or even three, points if they keep the Nittany Lions on the mat.
Hyman making a move. I'd pumped him up a bit earlier this year, but the points did not follow. Nowadays, though, Zach Hyman's centering a line that can be reasonably described as "his" and they are performing:
With Hyman centering the third line between freshman Tyler Motte and senior Luke Moffatt, the performance of all three players has quickly escalated. Hyman and his linemates combined for four goals in two games against Wisconsin last weekend and supplied high energy in the offensive zone.
Hyman scored one of those goals, a Kaleniecki special where he blasted in a rebound from the edge of the crease. He's been near-impossible to bump off the puck on the cycle all year and hopefully now he can maintain some scoring production over the rest of the season.
Firing, firing, firing. Via Five Key Plays, Zak Irvin making it rain:
Scouting Stauskas. NBA scouts, this video starts at 8:35. Before that it's just Golden Girls reruns.
It's time to eat (a low-carb diet high in protein). Derrick Green seems to have acquired the message about being smaller and nimbler, and is tweeting out pictures of how much he weighs.
my grind is never gone stop!! 220 by spring ball! Its time to eat 〽️ pic.twitter.com/qIghb24Ya6
— BaN€™〽️ (@DG2seven) February 5, 2014
May he reach 220 by spring and leave corpses in his wake in fall. But fun corpses!
Obligatory signing day articles. Did you know that not every highly-ranked recruit works out? Well, they don't. Also, sometimes low-ranked guys do. Now prepare for the parade of quotes from players and coaches saying they don't care about rankings. Are you prepared?
“I don’t put much stock in (the star-rating system),” Hoke said.
“I think it’s a joke,” Mueller said. “I believe there’s some talented guys, and it’s obvious to point out who the elite college football players are coming out of high school, but there are a lot of guys who get overlooked.
“I do not think it really does anything for any of the college coaches — the star system at least. The kids themselves and parents, it’s more of a headache."
Sorry. You cannot be prepared for that much quote. Anyway, annual article from newspaper about how recruiting rankings are not right every single time is matched by Matt Hinton's annual article in which he comes up with a new way to show that, yes, recruiting rankings are generally predictive.
It's a landslide. On the final count, the higher-ranked team according to the recruiting rankings won roughly two-thirds of the time, and every "class" as a whole had a winning record against every class ranked below it every single year. (The only exception came last year, when "three-star" teams came up short in head-to-head meetings with "one-star" teams. Otherwise, the hierarchy held across every line.) The gap on the field also widened with the gap in the recruiting scores: While "one-star" recruiting teams fared slightly better against blue-chip opponents than "two-star" teams, both groups combined managed a grand total of 19 wins over "five-star" opponents in 112 tries. Broadly speaking, the final results on the field broke along a straight line demarcated on signing day.
There are outliers, of course. Michigan is likely one in a bad direction, but Hinton only picked out those who are outperforming. They include most recent opponent Kansas State, which takes so many JUCOs they are near-impossible to rank reasonably, and Michigan State. Which sigh.
If you were really in charge you wouldn't have to keep saying you're in charge. This is, in fact, an article from this week:
Brady Hoke: I'm running Michigan football program, not Dave Brandon
This is from the press-conference-type substance. Speaking of that…
Usual PR debacles. The odd "press conference" that blew up into a bunch of finger-wagging once the Daily complained about not being there was less a press conference and more five requested one-on-one interviews crammed into a brief, mutual window:
“We did not hold a press conference (Monday),” Ablauf said Tuesday. “Five reporters requested to meet with Brady to discuss football topics, so we arranged this meeting about three weeks ago and set the meeting day and time over a week ago (prior to publication of the Daily story about Gibbons).”
But when five different reporters start tweeting out things Brady Hoke is saying, it looks like a press conference. And when you release the statement about the Gibbons thing that stands as the only thing you're going to say about that topic to five hand-picked reporters, that looks horrible.
Michigan actually did something about a sexual assault on campus that they didn't have to do—unlike, say, Florida State. That they managed to come out of that looking like they do is miraculously bad PR.
Unfortunately, it's not a surprise. This space has been sarcastically declaring "it's almost like the athletic department didn't think things through" jabs for the past year as one bad idea after another was rolled out and quickly rolled back. This is the culmination of the tiny debacles with noodles and seat cushions and the band going to Dallas and not preparing Mary Sue Coleman to speak in a situation with feedback. The same shitty attitude towards everyone outside of the Circle Of Trust from the past few years finally got applied to something important, and now Dave and company are receiving their just desserts.
Hopefully they'll learn something this time.
Uh-huh. The annual Detroit News Blue Chip list generally comes with at least one salty remark about Michigan or MSU, and this year's winner is MSU commit Nick Padla on Michigan:
They talked about tradition (but) I was thinking about the future.
The previous sentence also might have something to do with it:
They were recruiting me my 10th grade then kind of stopped.
Etc.: Enormous piles of NBA data could lead to a holy grail stat to end all stats, but it'll take supercomputers to produce it. Stat updates on Michigan's hockey recruits. Everything you ever wanted to know about Derrick Walton's efficiency leap.
The Hoke line about being in charge is just a well-deserved "fuck off" to the constant badgering about how deep Brandon's fingers dip into the football program.
Context matters too. Often these dumb responses come from reporters asking dumb leading questions.
I presume that Brian's point is that Michigan has a perception problem that is not going away about the extent of DB's involvement, and it is the perception that is the problem. The reality might also be a problem, but the point is that reporters keep asking.
Yep, the perception issue is key.
The longer that Dave Brandon is watching game film with the coaches, patrolling the sidelines so he can do things like chest-bumping players, and standing ready for the post-game handshake with Hoke after every win in perfect position to be the last thing the cameras show on the field after the postgame interview, the longer the perception will pervade that this guy is a Jerry Jones-style, hands-on manager. And it doesn't help that Hoke's press conference demeanor is non-articulate boilerplate crammed in between a lot of uhhs and wells. All signs point to puppetmaster, like it or not.
Honestly, the repeated instances in which Hoke goes out of his way to claim the perception isn't true tends to make me think it probably is.
That very perception is also fueled by having a football program that has gone 8-5 and 7-6 the last two years.
Winning cures all.
The fact that you think the perception is true is because...it's your perception. Hoke isn't necessarily going out of his way to say that...it's hard to go out of your way when you're asked directly about it. Was he actually asked or did he invite his own opinion in an opening statement? We don't have a transcript of the press conference, so we don't know. Definitively saying that he's going out of his way to say he's the coach is based on feelings, not proof. Show me a transcript and I'm more inclined to agree with you. Otherwise, it just sounds like sour grapes from people who just don't like Brandon.
Another perception is that, being a former player himself, Brandon simply loves the gameday atmosphere and loves watching games on the sidelines. He directs what Hoke says in press conferences because Hoke doesn't particularly like them and they all know how big of a clusterf%^k the free press situation was when RR was here, so they have to be extremely careful of teh words they choose to say. They don't owe the press anything.
Either perception seems plausible to me, and yet it's the first one that most often gets said.
They certainly have the don't owe anything part down pat.
The media generated that perception. Now Hoke's denial proves them right. See how easy that works?
It's like those who feel the absence of evidence only proves how big the conspiracy is.
Perception becomes Reality
Brian has adopted this line, which can be used as a stick to beat Hoke with no matter what he does. What evidence is there that Brandon has anything to do with football decisions? The fact that he's on the sideline and fucking loves getting his mug in front of cameras? The notion - similarly founded upon nary a piece of identifiable evidence - of the undying loyalty for Borges that Hoke developed in five years? (And no, the fact that Hoke said he 'did not anticipate staff changes' is not evidence that he wasn't looking for a replacement OC after the season).
Hoke has to continually tell people he's in charge because the media, including Brian, have a struck upon a narrative and, terrier-like, they're not gonna fucking give up their new toy until a newer and squeakier one comes along. What do you want him to say when the question comes up? No comment?
This shit is happening because of 7-6. End of. Hoke was just as much in charge in 2011 as he is now. Brian is dipping his toe into sports talk radio territory here, likely because for him anything involving Brandon has become an irresistible red cape at which to charge.
I agree that it's remarkable that Michigan handled the Gibbons situation so poorly on the PR side. In my mind, that falls largely on Dave Brandon's shoulders. You shouldn't micromanage little things or even medium things. But you need to be aware that a sexual assault on campus is a big thing, and control the message as best you can. E.g., don't have your head coach say Gibbons is missing the bowl game due to family issues when you can just as well say that Gibbons won't be accompanying the football team to the bowl game for violating team standards or whatnot.
Which leads me to this: how is it possible that institutions the size of Michigan don't have a crisis control plan in place for events like Gibbons's prior to them occurring? We don't know that an allegation of sexual assault (Gibbons), robbery (Cissoko), or indecent exposure (L. Harrison) will occur in advance of the allegation. Of course not. But we do know that there are well over 100 players on the football team, plus countless other athletes, and shit's gonna happen.
I don't endorse the "Brandon is evil" theme we see here from time to time, but this is the sort of thing the CEO of the Athletic Department ought to have in place. There should be a protocol for handling the message, involving the school's legal and PR teams, so the message never gets compromised. And the message should be along the lines of "we call ourselves the leaders and best, and we're going to act like it - our players will be held to a high standard regardless of the impact on the field." And coach the coaches on how best to deliver these messages prior to sending them out to a press conference.
I honestly think that message accurately reflects the school's stance, but it keeps on getting drowned out by incompetence on the PR front.
I'm not sure what Michigan should have done differently in the last week, though. I suppose they could have held a press conference (inviting, among others, The Daily) to talk about non-recruiting issues, but they would have ended up being portrayed as stonewalling after they (inevitably) refused to divulge further information re: the Gibbons situation.
I get your point. When Drew Sharp shows up at your press conference and is finished plowing through all the prostitute-named pastries* he'll fabricate some scandal no matter what you do. PR's not a panacea.
Maybe you just issue a press release that concludes with something along the lines of "given the sensitive nature of the allegations, and the possibility of further action by law enforcement, all inquiries on this matter will be handled by the Office of __________"? Then Hoke just says "my hands are tied". And UofM legal or Brandon can tie his hands, so he's speaking truthfully as Coach Hoke is wont to do.
In any event, we're currently doing it wrong, and Brandon appears to be addressing these issues on an ad-hoc basis. That's poor management.
*Bonus points to you for the Tom Waits reference in your sig line.
Won't Hoke just get killed for "hidding behind a press release?" Won't that just feed the Brandon runs the team not Hoke meme that is being pushed by the normal media-types (and seemingly Brian).
I guess my point is that the media in Detroit has used criticism of Michigan football to sell papers/generalte clicks. No amount of PR works when the media is going to take anything you say and twist it against you. (For example, Hoke's comment that he runs the team is being used as evidence that he doesn't.)
Best. Response. Yet.
I'm 100% in agreement with your assessment. It just blows me away that somehow our AD miscalculates on seemingly every major and minor issue in regards to basic PR.
From seeing the consistant lack of preparation, I'd have to guess that in his youth, Brandon was never involved in Scouting, or if he was, their motto 'Be Prepared' never sunk in.
The BSA doesn't exactly have the best record with PR.
he didn't say what he said because of FERPA. He may, in fact, be constrained on what he could say by FERPA, or he and/or the AD felt he was so contrained. But FERPA doesn't require him to be untruthful or deceptive about what he does say. Every indication suggests that Hoke was left to his own devices rather than there being thoughtful gameplan.
Speaking from 20+ years of experience in PR, this was a lesson in how not to handle this type of situation.
The old addage, "prepare for the worst, hope for the best" is founded on having a vetted crisis management plan in place for various embarrassing or catastrophic scenarios. This may seem like overkill to some, but I keep a briefcase in the trunk of my car (so it is always with me) with all of this information (including points of contact, etc.).
Another time-tested PR move is to "go ugly early." Admit the facts as soon as they become available... This includes to the press. Part of having a smooth-running public relations program is to have a good relationship with the press. If they trust you, they generally won't speculate, and might not even run with a story. (not saying that would be the case here).
It's pretty clear the Athletic Department did not have one, ignored it, or just completely boned the entire process. DB should have manned-up and "owned" this from the beginning. Coach Hoke should NOT be subjected to this at press conferences (or impromptu sessions with reporters). This really grinds my gears.
I too have many years of PR in my background and I see this situation completely differently.
First, what I am about to say is solely focused on the handeling of media relations. This has nothing to do with the most important aspect, which is the people who were involved and affected.
The faction of fanbase that reads MGoBlog is an extremly dedicated, well informed base. We also border on the more common term of fanatical. That is not the majority.
For the majority, this whole situation is barely a spec on the radar. It has not consistenly been front page on any of the major national media outlets. The media keeping the story going are a few local, traditional, media outlets. Compare this to the Jameis Winston situation. Major media outlets were not going to let that go until there was resolution.
Given this reality. Here are a few options:
1) Issue a press release. This exposes you to the probability that major news wires are going to pick the story up and publish it as their standard procedure. Now you do have a national story that people may latch on to. That is a bad option.
2) Have a press conference. Inviting a bunch of media to a press conference during a traditionally slow period simply to say, something happened and we can not talk about it, have a nice day". Again, you are inviting your local media to publiscize the situation even more and most likely will encourage at least one journalist to go on a mission to find out more. That is a bad option.
3) Handle it the way they did. This limits the potential for this blowing up into something big. Would you rather have ESPN plastering the M logo with the headline "sexual assult cover up" or deal with the Daily bitching that they were not invited to a "quasi" press conference? I know, I'm going to deal with the Daily if my universities reputation is on the line.
Also, to think that an institution like Michigan does not have a documented response plan ready to go, and is not acting on the advice of it's legal and public relations teams on an issue like this is ridiculous.
Most people feel they have a right to hear "the truth" on all issues and they feel jaded when a situation like this arrises, but we are not all entitled to the full truth in a public setting, and sometimes you just have to live with that.
You can take all your 'perspective' and 'knowledge based upon experience' and stick it straight up your ass, chief. We here on the MGoBoard understand that the prevailing mood on Michigan-themed blogs is what makes or breaks coaching staffs.
I'll remember that next time I'm constipated. :-)
the Gibbons matter is brought up by pretty much every sports friend I have--those who went to Michigan and those who didn't. Its pretty big here in Michigan--you may be right about keeping it off ESPN, but I suggest a PR mess is just as likely to get you there.,
I do not have a PR background, but have managed crisis situations on behalf of clients in a highly visible and regulated industry. I listen to PR colleagues in these situations, because they are the experts. That would include you and Willie Mays Hayes if we were hashing this out. And they listened to me. We collaborated and came up with a response, and coached our mouthpieces on what they could and could not say, and especially on how to respond to hard questions.
If you and WMH and I were sitting in a room advising UofM on the Gibbons, the first thing I'd ask you both would be are there only the three options TrueBlueInTx indicates? I think we'd pretty quickly conclude there are plenty more options, including coaching the hell out of Hoke as to what he can and cannot say if questioned about the Gibbons investigation. There are many other ways that they could have handled it. We'd discuss our options, and come up with a preferred approach.
I go into this all, because your post seems to suggest that they way Michigan handled this was optimal. Many of us thought it was suboptimal. (Reference the "will miss the game due to family matters" in the face of a rape investigation that Washtenaw Watchdog had already outed. Etc.)
Also, you state:
Also, to think that an institution like Michigan does not have a documented response plan ready to go, and is not acting on the advice of it's legal and public relations teams on an issue like this is ridiculous.
I don't know how you're so sure that they have a documented response plan ready to go. In part because not all organizations do, and in part because if they were following a game plan in dealing with the Gibbons accusations their game plan sucked [insert Borges joke here]. And if they had a plan, it ought to have been revised post PSU to include tidbits like "we really need to avoid looking like we're covering up sexual abuse allegations - especially when we aren't".
And they may well have had a policy set up somewhere, but did not implement it properly. In any event, if I were MSC I would have Brandon explaining to me what plan was in place at the time this transpired, and what changes he would make moving forward.
For all of that, I agree that you don't run out with a mea culpa press release each time there's an allegation of wrongdoing. And I agree that releasing a press release might not be the best way to handle the current situation (even though i suggested that in a response to Erik In Dayton) - you certainly risk broadening your audience when you do that.
But if you really think that Michigan handled this well from a PR angle, I'm just not seeing it. (Understanding you're an expert, I'm not saying you're wrong. Hindsight is 20:20 and all that. But I'm still not seeing it.)
Agreed, there are far more options than just three. I felt the post was getting long winded as it was and did not want to belabor the point.
My assurance that a plan exists at Michigan comes from 40+ years of watching my Dad run a much smaller institution of higher acamedics. More than just student athletes, every year colleges have thousands (tens of thousands) of students and employees they have to be accountable for if something should happen which attracts the interest of media (be it local or broader). And every year something happens. If my Dad had a plan 30+ years ago as to how to deal with situations like this at a much smaller school, I'm confident Michigan has one in today's media environment.
I don't think Michigan handled this perfectly. In situtations like this you can always look back and recognize things you could have done better. I also think it is common practice in our society for people with limited knowledge of facts to pick holes in everything that went wrong and make statements that is should have been done better. The fact is, especially with a negative PR situation, sometimes you pick the route which you think will have the least damage. After the initial gaffe by Hoke, I think this is what the AD department has been doing. This is all said from an outside viewpoint with limited knowledge of facts.
A member of the football team was expelled from school. That is news. Dave Brandon should have "owned" this from day one. Be that prior to the Iowa game, or whenever the shit hit the fan.
Send a press release to local print/tv/radio stations. Post a statement on the web. If handled correctly, at the end of the day the University did not err, Gibbons did. The only wrinkle is the privacy of Gibbons and the accuser. Again, your legal team should be onboard to clear those wickets.
If media calls the Athletic Director, you answer the questions within those parameters.
Being honest and up-front makes this a non-story...
This was absolutely my take; great to hear someone write it so eloquently. The University doesn't "owe" anyone more than they've done, and I think they've handled the situation as well as they can. For some reason, there is a faction of the blogosphere that wants this to be bigger than it is, to be proof of endemic issues with the AD and not an isolated issue of University policy taking time to be implemented and due process provided regarding an (admittedly) pretty difficult situation. The Daily bitching about not being allowed to sit at the adult's table all the time is all fine and good, but just because UM doesn't want a bunch of college kids screaming "Answer me this, coach Hoke!" for 20 minutes doesn't mean there is a cover-up or some massive PR blunder. And to act as if trotting out a big noodle for one game or being tone-def about seat cushions is evidence that one of the best universities in the world can't handle a pretty standard-issue situation with a prominent member of the community is silly.
I can add nothing.
on what could be said as part of Gibbons acceptance of the expulsion. Brandon and Hoke likely had little to do with this. It's far more likely that this was agreed to by the university administration and attorneys.
Brandon does seem very happy to jump in front on the good news such as the Nussmeier hiring and leaves Hoke to handle the Gibbons questions. I blame him for the problems this has caused.
did not conduct the investigation or expel Gibbons. It was up to the university and their legal/public relations people to handle this, including telling the athletic department what to say or not say.
I've read on this situation.
I also love the juxtaposition of a wonderfully cogent and intellectual post coming from a user name that trolls the dumbest thing ever said by a rival QB. Well done on both fronts, man. +1, indeed.
To me this is the entire issue with the Gibbons thing. That Michigan is so completely inept at dealing with the public and relating what is actually going on is mind blowing. The Gibbons thing probably isn't much of anything shady but Michigan keeps fucking up the message so badly it looks as if something shady is happening. They are essentially a multi billion dollar company and they have the PR acumen of a garage band. It defies explanation.
Would be disappointing to see us lose a game (and thus give PSU their first ever B1G win). I don't think the crowd or the hype of the game will be enough to get PSU any points this weekend - especially since it looks like we're rebounding a bit. Hopefully I'll get to see a nice thrashing
didnt know he had a "special"
and assumed it was a relic from the Borges firing. Didn't click.
Recruiting rankings obviously matter in the sense that getting better, more polished athletes helps your team win games (all else equal).
The problem with most of these analyses of the effects of getting higher-regarded recruits is omitted variable bias. In reality, correlations between recruiting rankings and team performance likely (badly) overstate the causal relationship between them. Programs that get higher-rated recruits also tend to have: better, more established head coaches; better coordinators and assistant coaches; better trainers and strength & conditioning coaches; better training and team facilities; more intimidating home crowds; and on and on.
Player talent is probably the most important of those variables, but there are many other variables that are correlated with both player talent and program performance. If we controlled for those, I'd imagine that you'd see much more modest - but still very large - effects from getting more highly regarded recruits.
Oh, and Green down to 225 with a target of 220! Yes please!
Nice write up! Enjoy your work.
/see Dear Diary
There must be a way to make sure that no one affiliated with the NBA ses the first 8:35 of the video. (Except maybe Joe Dumars.)
I'm not much of a DB fan, but this particular argument is complete and utter bullshit.
It's like saying that because a certain portion of the electorate keeps yammering about birth certificates, the assertions to the contrary by a certain politician simply proves he wasn't born where he said he was.
Remember when Green reported to fall camp at 240, and those who thought that might be a bit too heavy were routinely mocked and jeered at, and were assured that "Green is just a big guy and can handle that weight just fine?"
This is a good move, either by himself or the coaches. Probably in high school he could get away with being 230-240 but not D-1 ball. He'll need the extra athleticism that might come from dropping 15-20lbs.
It's about commitment. He needs to do everything he can to make himself feel ready to ride next season.
I think he will be bossy at 220.
I don't read the blog every day, but I do remember thinking to myself recently that's it's been a while since mgoblog continued its whiny complainy narrative about how terrible the athletic department is.