Thanks for this. Very interesting. Glad to hear people are putting that nonsense behind us, and in perspective. I still want to know how he answered the lady's question though.
David Brandon and the press.
I've delayed a few days in posting this; I had doubts about whether I would post or not. It is a story (cool story, bro!) that sheds just a little light on the intersection of Dave Brandon, the press and the Michigan alumni/fan base. Anecdotally only, of course.
One year ago, I attended the annual dinner of one of the suburban Detroit alumni groups. The alumni members of that group do an amazing job of raising money for scholarships; there are a handful of kids getting degrees right now, who wouldn't be there without this group of loyal interested alums. They have an annual fundraising dinner at a golf club, and last year, December of 2009, the invited dinner speaker was Michael Rosenberg of the Free Press, who was ostensibly there to talk about his book, "War As They Knew It."
The audience was, in the parlance of this blog, pure "blue-hair." Most attendees were in their 60's, 70's and 80's. If that makes some younger fans think less of them, so be it. They are donors; loyal alums; many are season ticket holders; a number are former lettermen. They mostly all read the Free Press, and if they don't like the Free Press it is probably because they are Republicans, not because they care about sportswriting. And, as I already mentioned, they are making it possible for some great, worthy kids to go to Michigan.
There was the usual Q-and-A session after Rosenberg's short talk about his book. And there were the usual questions about the history of Bo and Woody, and before that Bump Elliott, and some timid questions about whether the football team was going to start winning soon and how Mike Rosenberg thought that might happen.
I waited to the end of the general questions, then rose, and proceeded to ask Rosenberg a series of pointed questions about the Free Press story of August 30, 2009:
- Q - Why didn't you ever talk to any of the people who actually understood Compliance Services operations and CARA reporting details? A - That wasn't Rosenberg's story, he said.
- Q - Why did you wait until the Friday before going to print on Saturday, to drop this bombshell on Martin, Rodriguez and Bruce Madej? A - That was enough time for them to answer, and if they had something to say, we might have delayed publication, but they didn't.
- Q - How do you justify the anonymity afforded to the unnamed "former" players, but meanwhile you named (and substantially traumatized) Je'Ron Stokes and Brandin Hawthorne, both of whom say they were misqoted and their commets were misused? A - We gave anonymity to players who asked for it, and the two freshmen did not ask for it.
- Q - What about Toney Clemons; he says he never asked for anonymity, and he admits that you interviewed him? A - How do you know he was one of the sources we used for the story?
- Q - What about Justin Boren; a guy who was so unconcerned about "retaliation" that he dressed up as Rich Rod for Halloween, with his girlfriend as a "Bunny/stripper" Rita? A - No comment on Boren as a source, and as for the justification of anonymitiy, it would have been better to cite "general retribution" instead of "retribution from coaches."
At one point, Rosenberg asked, "Am I being cross-examined?" The mood in the dining room was a bit tense. It was not what a lot of the guests might have anticipated for a holiday-season dinner. Rosenberg had no good answers, and the audience, not particularly well-attuned to the issues of what Jon Chait called "journalistic malpractice," probably didn't know quite what to think. At that time, December of 2009, little was publicly known about the NCAA investigation. The University had not yet responded to anything. Bill Martin was the AD, and there was not much thought about David Brandon at that time, other than that he was a former Regent, was now at Domino's, he had made a lot of money, and some thought he might someday run for governor.
Fast-forward to December, 2010; last week, the night before the Football Bust. The annual dinner takes place at the same golf club dining room. The speaker, this year, is David Brandon.
Brandon speaks for about 35 minutes, without a note, about his lifelong connections with Michigan, and it was so organized, so cogent and so well-crafted, that a transcript of the talk would look like it had been pre-written, carefully edited over a week or so, and then delivered with a TelePrompTer.
Brandon then answered questions. Everyone pretty much knew what he would and would not answer. At one point a lady mischeivously asked Brandon what criteria he will grade his football coaches on; a cute way of asking about Rich Rodriguez. People were laughing as she tried to ask the question from the back of the room. Instead of fouling off the question and giving a nothing response, Brandon asked the lady to repeat the question, because the laughter drowned her out just a bit. She rephrased the question, over more giggles and whispers. Again, Brandon asked her to repeat a part of it, so that he had her exact question. He was not going to dodge a single word, and he was going to answer the exact question, directly.
When all of the routine questions were done, I rose to let Brandon know who last year's speaker was, and relate what had happened. As soon as I mentioned the name of Michael Rosenberg, there were scattered of boos and hisses from throughout the room. What a difference a year makes, even to a group of older, conservative Free Press readers. I let Brandon know what had happened last year, and aksed what was his feeling about the Free Press story of August 30, 2009.
Brandon said he was proud of the way that everyone had responded. The investigation had been solid. Naturally, it uncovered some problems and the University had to take full responsibility for what the investigation had found. They did so, and they did it without whining to the media about how it had all gotten started.
Brandon said that he had spent more of his time and energy with the lawyers on the Michigan/NCAA football investigation, than he had on the biggest deal of his life in the corporate world, which was a 1.2 billion-dollar series of transactions.
Then Brandon opened up about the press. He said that the newspaper story that had led to NCAA investigation had been "crap." He said that he had taken a yellow highlighter to the printed story, and had highlighted all of the parts that were unfounded, untrue, exaggerated or eroneous. He ended up with a story that was more yellow than not. If there had been any doubt in the room about Rosenberg and the Free Press, the two December meetings, in 2009 and 2010, had erased it.
He thanked me for my question.
I take it, then, that this diary is your Magnum Opus on "Free Press Rosenberg Sharp IS ALL BAD" that you've made mention of in every post you've provided on this site the past 2 years?
Good - thank you for comparing and contrasting the public relations acumen of a sportswriter and a business leader. It can't be shocking to anyone that David Brandon blows the socks off Michael Rosenberg in a question and answer session (though I'm sure your tone wasn't the same for both).
Now, let's all move on.
With all due respect, telling everyone to move on could be interpreted as a pass to the Free Press for its reprehensible conduct.
Better to insert "continue the boycott and" before "let's move on."
I think that the diary is important in reminding us of the financial consequences of the Free Press' crusade, and also in showing that the paper has lost hearts/minds/readership of a significant portion of Michigan supporters.
No, telling everyone to move on is a natural reaction to the fact that the investigation is closed, that Michigan in fact committed violations, and that if you don't want to read the Freep, then don't read the Freep.
If you want to have constant reminders of things that make you mad, unhappy, vengeful, spiteful, go right ahead. At the end of the day, you're experiencing all those emotions over a football program, its compliance staff, and a newspaper, things that will continue to operate for years without any regard to your emotional state.
So, move on. Go Blue.
Well, hopefully, the Free Press as currently constituted won't continue to operate forever. I'm reminded of it, however, because it's for sale on newsstands in my neighborhood.
I also think that this diary is different and more valuable than the run-of-the-mill "Look at today's column from Columnist X - what an idiot" message board thread because it (the diary) quantifies the financial impact of bad reporting and also shows (anecdotally, perhaps) that people aren't letting the Free Press slide on this one.
Also, it's a given that the football program will continue to operate without regard to my emotional state, but I knew that going in...
If people "move on," Rosenberg and the Free Press will receive a free pass for their questionable journalism. This boycott (or whatever you want to call it) is one of the rare instances in life where one individual's opposition has an actual monetary impact on the offender. Each time someone buys the Detroit News instead of the Free Press, Rosenberg is injured. I, for one, will not "move on" - quite the opposite, in fact.
Don't the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press operate under a 100-year operating partnership? I wouldn't be so sure you're "hurting" the Free Press by reading the News.
That's neither here nor there (except that it really is here and there). I don't live in MI and don't buy either paper but you get my point, I think.
If the News is outselling the Freep by a substantial amount, more resources will go to the News. And it will snowball.
But I suspect that there are plenty of Spartys who lap up whatever the Freep sports page tells them.
People should never move on from understanding something. While there is a point for moving on from complaining and bitching, attempting to understand more thoroughly shouldn't ever be discouraged.
There are literally millions of real-life parallels (many having greater social repercussions than a poorly-written sports investigation) and pointing them out would be overly dramatic, but as the OP shows, many people have become enlightened from the alumni dinner in '09 to the dinner in '10 because he didn't just "move on."
Just moving on won't help to shed light on the fact that information was reported negligently and maliciously by one of our major sources of supposedly unbiased and truthful news. -1 JG, crusade on Profit.
"Move on" attitude could be displayed in any setting. However, you are on a message board and we are not trying to disregard the forces at play but rather understand them.
Like others here, I will continue to be very aware of Free Press coverage of M athletics, will continue to do whatever I can hold them accountable (admittedly not much), and will always harbor resentment toward them for their initial and ongoing attempts to smear the program.
It isn't as if this was an isolated incident and that they have been fair and even-handed in their reporting since then. Quite the contrary, it has been a protracted campaign of negative, agenda-based reporting.
There seems to be plenty of people on here who have also made the decision to not let it go and you telling them to 'move on' isn't going to make a bit of difference in that respect.
Perhaps you should take your own advice and move on from telling people to move on and simply avoid these posts altogether?
then you told everyone else to move on. It would have carried more weight with me if you had just simply said "Let's just all move on."
Thanks for this. Very interesting. Glad to hear people are putting that nonsense behind us, and in perspective. I still want to know how he answered the lady's question though.
It's a good question, which sort of immediately takes us off-topic and away from "The Press" meta-story.
I sort of don't want to try to paraphrase David Brandon on what he said. I didn't record it, and while I took a few notes, I would not rely on them for that purpose. Everybody is literally hanging on every word, every gesture, every eye movement from Brandon. It is silly and stupid, and so naturally it is on the front page of today's Detroit Free Press sports section, in a column by Drew Sharp. Where else?
I'll answer your perfectly-good question this way; as Brandon spoke, I imagined myself as a Michigan coach. Of any sport. Golf, swimming, track, soccer; you name it. And I thought to myself; Damn! I have got to produce! This team has got to produce. Every season, every day! Nothing less than the best will suffice!
Now before anybody feaks out and misquotes me or presumes something else, I DID NOT come away feeling like the Rich Rodriguez era was over. NOT. What I did come away with was the absolute conviction that David Brandon really does have a process, and the process is working now, and there won't be a decision until after the season. What I got was that football was one of 27 sports. And that a college football press corps with some down-time and a bit of boredom before the bowls, was not going to drive the decision.
Have a nice day, Drew Sharp.
This response makes a lot of sense. If there is one thing I have learned at the U of M, being the nicest guy in the world doesn't make a lick of difference to my advisor or my academic career (though it makes the ride much more enjoyable for myself and others involved). At the end, the quality of the product is the only thing that matters. That was a sad reality when I turned in my prelims and realize I sucked and my life and personality were completely separate from that paper.
RR is a great guy. He loves our players. He loves AA and UM. But if he doesn't win, he doesn't win.
And I don't mean to salivate at the slightest twinge of news, I just can't help it. I am an addict (better than something else).
PS - I didn't get your last sentence, are you calling me Drew Sharp?
I just re-read, and I can see how it might be read that way. No no no. I was speaking to Sharp himself, through the magical Cloud-communication of the blogosphere. Not you.
I've heard this time being referred to as a "circus" by impatient fans and media, but it only exists in their heads. Cool heads prevail.
When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.
If I received a 1,000,000 posbang again, I would award every single one of them to you for this response to a direct question. This is how answers to questions on radioactive topics should be handled at all levels. +1 to you, sir. +1!
Nice work (particularly in '09). I can see where your questions to Rosey may have been deemed inappropriate for that setting, but the Freep's hack job was many times worse.
- - -
To those who wonder when we'll be able to fully put this behind us, here's my answer: We can talk about that as soon as those @#$%s at the Freep apologize for the damage they've done and bend over.
Until that point, we need not obsess about the issue, but we should never forget it.
I am dismayed and amused at the same time at the idea that we, as fans, need to hear either a vote of confidence or some statement saying Rodriguez is gone. Mr. Brandon doesn't give a shit if we're not happy with his time table, doesn't care what the MSM is saying about UM or the football progam and is following the course he plotted before the season started.
Mr. Brandon's background as a CEO is vastly different than the background of a lifetime student, teacher, coach or any other person who relies on the approval of others as feedback for a job well done. Following procedure will produce the results that will lead to success. Sometimes you have to improvise, adjust, and change on the fly. This is not one of those times - no matter how we feel as fans.
I'm confident that he has the University's best interests in mind. I'm also confident that he has more information than anyone currently opening their mouth about this situation. Regardless of how I feel, I'm certain he will do what's best for the football program while leading with his head and not panicking with his heart. I'm thankful for this.
Now, on with the mushroom clouds!
it is pure conjecture to try to figure out DB's process. he obviously has a process in mind and is sticking to it.
to me, it is insignificant whether or not the decision is made now, Jan 1 or Jan 5. DB had damn well better be looking at a long-term coaching solution. and losing a few recruits has little/no effect on long-term success; only potential short-term pain.
right now we have RR. personally, i see huge potential with this coach, and i hope we keep him. none of us know DB's criteria, and it's very shortsighted and impatient to expect an immediate answer before HE's done all the due diligence HE deems necessary.
There's nothing quite like journalistic malpractice to stir the ire.
Dave Brandon talked about The Big Chill. I have totally lost track of what is and isn't known about the sidelights to this event. It is going to be very cool, very interesting.
Fireworks. Stealth Bomber flyover. Larry Kasdan (U-M Hopwood Award winner and screenwriter of the film The Big Chill). Movie-paraphernalia giveaways. Wolverines who were in the movie via the MSU @ U-M t.v. highlights. Probably the most advanced, adventurous use, to date, of our video boards.
See you there. I'd love to know who got my football-season seats, and how they did it, because they must have ordered within about 12 miliseconds if they were allocated on a first-come, best-served basis. It's gonna be a blast, no matter what.
And hey if you are a standing, up-in-back devotee, this will be for you. I can't imagine that with everybody bundled up in four layers, that there will be much room to sit. Or that anybody will even want to sit down in the cold wind.
This is an outstanding diary. Extremely well-written and I am impressed that you stood and asked those questions to both speakers. Its interesting to hear your take on Brandon's public speaking accumen as I have not had the pleasure of listening to him speak for an extended period of time.
Interestingly, I am somewhat impressed that Rosenberg entertained your questions at all (even though his responses were basically nonresponsive). I think I already relayed the story about my former MI State Representative relative (not a U-M graduate) that told Rosenberg that his article was a joke in a restaurant one day. It seems as though he may have been looking/lobbying for support after the articles ran, almost as though he knew he was standing on thin ice. I'm no reporter, but I would assume that if I had credible sources and believed in the story I would not be looking for support. The writing should stand on its own.
it's synder's story now. obviously. and to snyder it's rosenberg's story. see how that works?
Move on? Not in this lifetime. These clowns have attacked something I hold near and dear. I might consider it after a full and complete apology to the university, it's students, athletes and alums. As a taxpayer, I want an additional apology for the time, money and resources that had to be devoted to a defense against excessive stretching. Anything less, and you good folks will have to keep hearing about it, I apologize in advance for any further post along those lines.
Wow, thanks, Section 1. That was a fantastic piece.
I'm glad Dave Brandon is fairly forthright with the almunni base.
As for Rosenberg, I'm also glad the alumni base is finally turning against him.
Thank you, Section 1, for a great post that only further entrenched my deep belief that Dave Brandon is going to be the best AD since the quintessential Don Canham. I was there to appreciate all Don Canham did and I see the same traits in Dave Brandon.
I won an autographed copy of Rosenberg's book; it's just too bad I can't burn it but I can do the next best thing!
I really respect and appreciate your words. I totally get it. And I, too, think the Free Press stories were overheated. I'd just add this, respectfully:
The Free Press didn't get the whole thing wrong. It overplayed its hand, likely substantially. But the articles did unearth problems that both the school and the NCAA deemed "major violations." I understand Brandon's (and most everyone else's) frustrations re the articles. But it bothers me a little that he and others now dismiss them out of hand. Criticize them, fine. But I think he (and everyone) should equally acknowledge that M fucked-up, too. Nobody comes out of the thing smelling like a rose.
Your thoughtful post deserves a thoughtful reply.
Suppose the following.
That Rosenberg, equipped with inside information and an audit memo that suggested that the football program was way behind in its CARA reporting forms, had done whatever investigation he thought was worth doing, and then went to Madej, and Martin, and maybe even Mary Sue, and said, "I've got a very serious story here. But before we go to press, I want to talk with Roriguez, Martin, Judy Van Horne, Brad Labadie, etc. And you might want to investigate this for yourself, too, and I'd like your comment as soon as you've done that."
In that case, I think it is very fair to presume that the Free Press would have gotten a story, and even an exclusive story. Michigan would have self-reported minor violations, they would all have determined that no players were ever jeopardized and no competitive advantage had ever been sought.
There'd have been no NCAA investigation, no black eye for the University, and Rich Rodriguez would likely have been exonerated from the get-go, instead of having been declared guilty until proven innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt more than a year later.
The real, significant difference is that the way Rosenberg did the story, it hurt Rich Rodriguez. Doing it any other way would have had no net difference on football operations, or the welfare of the student-athletes. Mike Rosenberg has done nothing that served the University's long-term interest. He had choices; critically-important and blindingly-obvious choices, and he took the route that was calculated to hurt Rich Rodriguez.
There are directions to take an article as a journalist. The direction that should be taken by any respectable, credible journalist should be that which is honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information (per the SPJ Ethics Code).
I agree, Michigan had violations and believe that Dave Brandon has always acknowledged those violations; never sidestepping or passing the blame. Unfortunately, Michael Rosenberg has never accepted his responsibility for the negligence and sensationalism in his story; I am embarrassed for him.
Great personal story, Section 1.
you can't use words like respectable, credible, honest, fair and courageous if your discussing the freep- end of story
The first thing David Brandon stated was that the University made mistakes and they acknowledge them. That the process isn't about begging, but assigning appropriate penalties to those mistakes, and demonstrating the corrective actions put into place.
Then when the NCAA posted their assessment he didn't treat it like a success, since it was an admission of mistakes and wrong doing. But he did state that he was glad that the NCAA agreed with the University on it's assessment of the mistakes and appropriate corrective action. Which means the NCAA found that what was represented in the media, which lead them to investigate, were greatly exaggerated or completely untrue.
And the most important disagreement that the University had with the initial claims from the NCAA was that the Head Football Coach fostered an environment of non-compliance. So the results did vindicate Rich Rodriguez in direct contradiction to the main goal of the article, which was to publish the lack of ethics of the MIchigan Football Head Coach.
And at every step where David Brandon stated this same thing, the media kept asking, "so are you going to fire the coach?"
Now Brandon is tired of speaking to people who don't actually listen to what he says. And instead of feeling proud that are AD has such strength of character, we continue to wring our hands in panic that he won't just tell us something that we don't need to know.
well, back to what's really important, Christmas Shopping, cause someone's got to revive this economy.
Thank you Section 1. When you gave the teaser last week? or weekend, I was waiting to hear. I thought you might have forgotten about it.
I don't read the Freep and not living in the Michigan area, but has he stopped attacking the program and Coach Rod. It seems others have taken the cause up, such as Drew Sharp. Maybe, Rosenberg realized his mistake and has toned it down or he wants to get back into the fold after being left out in the cold this year.
He is as smart, as he is ill-motivated.
He is going to be very careful about how he goes after Rodriguez. Drew Sharp is just a bottom-feeder, and yes he has picked up Rosenberg's cudgel at this point.
Rosenbeg's "pivot" on this was evident in October when, instead of writing anything at all about Rich Rodriguez, he did an elaborate puff-piece on Jim and John Harbaugh for Sports Illustrated. I forget right now if Rosenberg compared the Harbaughs to Jesus and Moses. Anybody remember?
Again, thanks for the hard work of reminding us and giving us all the facts. You and others have done a great job. Before I found this blog(sometime in the spring of this year), I had relied on the MSM. When I first read the story last year on ESPN, I blamed it solely on Coach Rod. Now, after getting all the facts, it's a different story.
this fall, which struck me at the time as going out of his way to find something nice to say about Michigan so people would cut him some slack.
He is as smart, as he is ill-motivated.
What was his motivating factor?
I've heard he was motivated by his extreme dislike of Rich Rodriguez, that he wanted a "Michigan Man" to be Lloyd's successor.
It just seems like career suicide to use your position as a journalist to try to get someone fired. It's obvious, now, that the article and the campaign have backfired and Rosenberg has been blackballed by Michigan and most of the M faithful (at least all who read this blog).
So, risking your job because you don't like a guy? There has to be more to it.
And he is a good writer. "War As They Knew It" is a very good read about the ten year war between Woody and Bo.
I was so disappointed in Rosenberg. I never touch or click anywhere near the Freep. But I haven't burned the book yet, either. Maybe someday I'll read it again.
But first, I'm looking forward to going through "Bo's Lasting Lessons."
Diary. Not biased, based on facts and your first hand experience, loved the questions aimed at Rosenberg, and all around good piece. Kudos to you man. It is nice to hear levelheaded ness in a world of mood swings from a 250 word tweet. Good job, look forward to hearing more from you.
Great diary - thanks. This gets at one of the reasons I want RR to stay. I genuinely feel he has been wronged and the program damaged by Rosenberg et al and, in the name of justice, want to see RR have a chance to rectify that. Having said that I realize that may not be enough for DB and so be it. Just looking forward to getting it done. A win on Jan 1 will go a long way and here's hoping it happens.
program to next year. It would be a shame if someone else comes in and reaps the rewards that would have been his (after all he has gone through).
Dave Brandon's timeline is going to be hard for many to live with for the next few months including RR and it may cost us some recruits. But, for long term results for the entire sports department, it is a smart move. In normal times, the media/fans wouldn't be demanding to know the status of the coach. DB would review at the end of the year and make his decisions. Just because "some" decide there is a problem and want answers now, if he concedes to their demands he would have to do it everytime "they" demand it. Suppose the basketball or hockey teams have a long losing streak this season (or ever) and people start to question the coach. If DB sets that precedent now, he will be stuck with it forever. I suspect that he has already made up his mind, but isn't going to be bullied into doing what the media or anyone else wants.
I am both appriciative and jealous that you were there both years for this event. I hope one day to be a blue hair (no hair?) who has this opportunity.
One small side note, as much as I dislike Rosenberg for his hit piece (I do not visit the free press, nor do I read any of his SI articles) I do have to admit I enjoyed his War as They New It book very much.
I loved the point where you questioned him on his actions. It's nice to know that when the tables were turned on him, where he had to answer for his actions, he didn't show half the class of our current coach or AD. Well written diary.
I am still dumbfounded as to how and why Rosenberg has been able to leap onto the national stage and is writing or appearing on espn, SI etc.
This whole end of the season review of RR's performance is blown up (thanks media) but it applies to every coach. I don't think DB states this enough and it may defuse some of the controversy. All coaches are going to be evaluated at the end of their season. Unfortunately, this whirlwind of drama surrounding RR's job security will likely be revisited next year at the same time and so on and so on.
No surprise that he's made the national stage, especially when we consider the level of journalistic non-integrity and the general idea that any publicity is good publicity. As far as I can tell, much of what ESPN does (even the voices of their lead-in announcers) is decidedly calculated to irritate and annoy, if not infuriate. SI has a couple of reasonable writers, but also brings along a number of weak, self-promoting types (e.g. Stewart Mandel).
Anyway, it's really a publicity-generating mindset that drives the media in ways that mirror the tabloids of old, and which panders to a fairly superficial reading and listening/watching public.
Long for the days of Joe Falls and Mike Downey. Thanks for your post, possibly Carr had it right when it was called the Fort, treating the press like the unclean did have its advantages. I will say that I was looking forward to a more open relationship and thought they would also, but I guess they enjoyed the clandestine " off the record " nature. Possibly the feeling " I know something you don't" my older sister exhibited when we were pre-teen. If that is the case for these two pimples are coming.
I've been reading diaries and posts for a long time but rarely feel the need to comment. Your diary is one of the exceptions. Well done.
That is a great post and I truly admire your direct questioning, which is not cross examination at all. The shithead wrote his crap so why couldn't he relate to your reasonable questions.
Having said that, which Larry David hates to say, it takes some balls to stand up at that type of dinner and lob the grenades.