Thought this was a pretty interesting read, makes some vaild points on why students are frustrated and not showing up and why the game day experience should be more for what the fan pays. What are your thoughts?
John U. Bacon article on decreasing student attendance and game experience at Mich. Stadium
I wonder if Section 1 still watches Bacon sleep.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHf4hYt9Lko (forward video to 4:55)
Actually we had this same problem with the students 20 years ago.
ST number sold:
1993 - 20,000
1994 - 18,000
1995 - 16,000
According to the video (student television) lack of home schedule, losing (two straight 8-4 seasons) and ticket prices were the main reasons. So basically the same problems we have now.
It suggests there is more than just the team's performance at issue, though that's certainly part of it.
bad teams in the past + no clear reason for optimism this year + terrible attendance policy last year.
Plus the flip of MSU on the schedule, creating a season ticket without either MSU/OSU.
But at the same time there would be other students ready to come to the games if we were
2. Playing a decent schedule
3. Had a Woodson/Denard type player
...so if you're suggestion that it's out of protest for Dave Brandon, sure...but I call bullshit. For every student that doesn't come because of Brandon...3 more WOULD come because of the factors I just mentioned. It's easy to protest when you're not getting even ONE of those three things. And maybe the same people would continue to boycott, so what, there would be a line of students at the stadium if we were undefeated playing good teams and we had a once in a generation player. 2 of those 3 is generally enough at Michigan.
ends up at least at a Denard level of popularity. If they had won the ohio game last year we'd be enamored with the heart he played with all year and the legend of him winning on a broken foot would be legendary.
I think he might pull something magical out this year.
Fantastic post -- the parallels here are really striking. The video also notes the national trend in falling sales and the back-to-back final four seasons in Michigan basketball, which is almost identical to the current situation. And the two-year drop of 4,000 isn't so different from the projected drop from last year of 5,000-6,000.
but the degree of change is quite different. If this were truly analogous, the student flight would have occurred in any number of the past 6 years.
if you still watch Section 1 sleep. Maybe it's time to let him go.
Who are you?
but not all together untrue
That's not a vaild spelling?
There are lots of Michigan fans who are fed up with the ticket prices, the PSL, the crappy schedule and the poor product we have seen on the field. This team has to start winning and keep winning. Mediocracy is what we are and that is unacceptable.
One good / great season in 5 or 6 years isn't going to cut it.
I was looking back through all-time records and such and Michigan has lost so much ground it's depressing.
In 95 I thought of the breaking of the 100K streak against Purdue but that was because weather conditions. There was no way there were 100K in the stands that day. This year it might be for real.
Probably the worst weather conditions I've watched a Michigan game in. Rain & Sleet & Snow & Wind throughout the whole game. My wife set us up with winter gear and the ever-fashionable garbage bags over our coats. I think the final score was 5-3 good guys.
5-3. It was a real test of fandom.
100 parts lunacy.
That was my very first game at the Big House. I'd take that over what we have now any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
I agree with you, and Bacon makes that argument in the blog as well (PSLs, crappy schedule, no season ticket waiting list, being treated like crap, claiming that less than 100,000 might show up soon).
No, "Mediocracy" was the prequel to "Idiocracy."
Bo, I fixed it lol
Thought it might be one of those funny Canadian spellings.
Same problem is affecting every college football team, Ohio and Bama included. Numbers are down everywhere.
...not just Michigan. It's college football that is generating less interest because it's been relentlessly fucked with in the past 10 years or so and a lot of old fans (like me) are just tired of it.
Here's a list of things to blame:
-Playoffs (and the shitty BCS before it)
-12 game seasons
-Games nearly every day of the week
-Revolting scandals like PSU and even the Gibbons/Lewan shenigans closer to home
-And even just the relentless talk of player unions & paid athletes
There's probably more...but clearly the carefree-bit-of-Saturday-afternoon-escapism-with-the-tradition-that-links-generations luster has worn off.
Oh, and factor rising ticket prices (and tuition too) in the face are a relatively stagnant ecomonic environment and, yeah, is it really any surprise that attendence and interest are beginning to suffer?
You can add the explosion of crummy bowl games. It's actually possible for a team with a losing record to play in a bowl game.
But these are not reasons the general public doesn't come to games.
You listed all of these and didn't list one of the main factors...MONEY. Ticket prices and the fact that we have HDTV and can watch every game from home are a huge reason for a decline.
Alabama doesn't do UNIFORMZ and they're just fine...Oregon does do UNIFORMZ and they're just fine.
You've made a personal list of reasons on why YOU have been less interested. Half of those things you mentioned have no significant impact on people attending games. Too many bowl games? That not general opinion. Every league has scandal...if that bothers you then you shouldn't watch sports. There are literally major scandal or issues in every single league right now. Sterling, Hernandez/Irsay, racist Bruins fans, labor issues in Qatar, UNC academics, Sandusky or Union. I mean come on, MLB and NASCAR are the only two where I couldn't think of something off the top of my head.
As a personal list...that's fine, that's you. But the general public doesn't seriously care about most of those. If they did...they wouldn't be issues. Nike doesn't make UNIFORMZ if no one likes or buys them. Or at least dislikes them enough to take action over it. Michigan could be undefeated playing undefeated OSU and we could wear something even worse than the bumblebee uniforms and that stadium would be PACKED.
I was born in AA, but I've never been back since being a young kid and have never been to a game there. But, I've been to plenty of games at PSU and one thing I remember every time I go to a game. You know what's going on, but you don't really know how it happened. Even though the atmosphere, experience, and tailgating is awesome, you don't see much of the actual game. With how awesome HDTVs are and HD cable you see everything. You know exactly what happened every minute of the game. When you go to watch a game in person you don't get that. Granted, you never will, but I never noticed how big of a difference that was until I had HD cable. Schools need to do more to overcome this and give gans a better experience and a better price. I'd pay to go see my favorite team any chance given, but not everyone is as fanatical as we are.
I used to blindly renew season tickets as fast as the info envelope came in the mail. Both as a student, then as a regular fan. Even when PSLs came out, there wasn't much pause for reflection on the decision. But now? Michigan football doesn't love me so much as it loves my money, and while maybe it's always been that way, Dave Brandon's Brand has made that fact painfully obivous. And that is when you finally take a step back. Now, instead of pride and excitement when I give them my money for tickets, I somewhat feel like a sucker. And it's depressing to come to that realization about something you love so much.
My sentiments exactly. Well said.
The seat cushion stunt last summer is a great example. Some revenue-maximizing genius decided to prohibit fans bringing in seat cushions (listed on the "safety" exclusions) while allowing fans to "rent" an affixed seat cushion for $6/game, but the price was going up a few days later. I wrote a scathing email to the athletic department. It was some of my best work, but I must not have been the only one. The seat cushion rule was off the website the next day.
In my email I recommended that the athletic department stop treating the loyal fans like ATMs. Pretty much what Bacon and you said.
To borrow MGrowOld's phrase, while Disney has made some "mind-numbingly stupid decisions" (FP+, anyone?) they are very good at understanding what the Disney brand means to people on an emotional level and the associated customer expectations and value proposition of the brand. Every single person working for the entire company is focused on delivering to those expectations. That's precisely the opposite of what Brandon has done.
But we skipped it when in Florida for a week. Our 12 year old twins were thrilled with Universal Studios, Sea World, and days at the beach, swimming, fishing, at the pool. Disney priced themselves out of our market. I remember talking to a Disney chef about how all Disney food is priced 20% above market rates, because they have you captive.
This is about how I feel regarding Michigan football. Between the 5 hour drive drive and the price gouging, for a game with a lousy opponent, with overpriced tickets, where you can't bring in a seat cushion, or sealed bottled water, or a full size camera with a zoom lens, when I can watch the game in comfort, with DVR, so as to start an hour after kickoff and skip through interminable commercials, run to the fridge for a drink, have my legs up, and go to a clean bathroom with no line, it gets less and less attractive to have the "gameday experience."
The gameday experience for me involved the smell of brats on the grill, and buying a half gallon of fresh cider, and the drum line, and walking in to the stands, with the band playing gloriously, and a group of brass roving around after halftime, and the band eating crates of fresh apples, and the smooth sound of the announcers, and seeing scalped tickets ranging from $5 to $50, and cheering some other sports champions or long gone alumni announced for some honor during halftime. Some of those things still happen. But some of it is eclipsed by the glitz and the noise and the corporateness and shininess of it all.
I live in Chicago, and I've never been to a Bears game. I mean, I'll watch them on TV, but I'm not spending what it costs to go. Now, the Bears are starting to look like a comparable value and experience to going to a Michigan game. And I'm not happy about that.
are a real issue. Food at the stadium has always been unnecessarily limited (a few more options now) and bad. But now the price gouging has reached levels that I don't even think of buying anything there. We make sure to eat on the way down or at one of AA's many great restaurants. With decent food and decently priced food and drinks, people might actually opt to eat (more) at the stadium------and perhaps arrive earlier and enjoy the experience more.
... but to their credit they usually deliver exactly what the customer is expecting if not more, and they have a unique experience to sell. They have done a good job, by and large, over the years of delivering that experience while not charging so much as to get you to reconsider whether it's worth it.
Michigan, judging by our sentiments, has not done that.
I have a miserly outlook so I chafe at the DIsney pricing and marketing, especially since I could take or leave their products...no emotional attachment. The athletic department has the money grab down but they've ruined the attachment I and many others once had. Squeezing more money, dumping unique traditions in favor of mainstream sporting event activities, all at a time when the economy and the team are struggling all add up to the goose that lays golden eggs not feeling so hot.
A few years ago, I would never have imagined me thinking twice about going to games and buying tickets from the athletic department. I really do feel like I'm being tricked anytime I do it now. In years past, I think I would have jumped over some of these ticket deals. Now, I feel like I can just go on Stubhub and get them 50% cheaper.
So many of these moves make sense on their face, but they really just don't seem to have that long-term view in place.
This isn't my idea, someone else mentioned it in another post on this topic. But I think one of the big factors in the decreases demand is the change from season ticket waiting lists to the donation points system. Ten years ago when I graduated, I signed up for the season ticket waiting list even though I was moving across the country. Supposedly the waiting time on the list was 20+ years, and if I waited until I moved back to the area (or could afford to buy tickets just to fly back for the best games) I would never make it to the top of the list. And this rewarded loyalty from ticket buyers - if you made it to the top of the list, you better buy or else you might never get another change. And if you had tickets, renewing got you better seats, and if you didn't renew you might never get another chance to buy them.
Now the wait list is gone, and season tickets are given out based on donations. If the product is bad you can save money on tickets, and if you ever change your mind you can just put the money you saved towards donations and get your tickets back. Loyalty means jack squat if someone else donates more money. And behold, all customer loyalty has been lost.
And IIRC this change was done under Martin, so this isn't all Brandon's fault. Although he hasn't done anything to make the situation better.
(I don't know if the article goes over this stuff, but the site is crashed and I can't read it yet. But I'm assuming it's similar to all the other arguments that have been on this site before).
If Brandon has really said that, it explains everything.
(IIRC, yearly) to the athletic department employee who most embodies that quote. Not a joke. IOW, more than just saying it, he says it's one of his guiding mantras.
If David Brandon really, truly believes and practices "If it ain't broke...break it!" then he doesn't give a rat's bleeding ass about tradition.
Every time the word "tradition" comes out of his pie hole, what he really means is "I love tradition unless I want to destroy it, which is frequently."
I'm sure I'm going to agree with virtually everything he wrote given the comments made so far but I can't access the link-too much traffic on his server.
Gotta love the power of mGoBlog.
When I was a kid, people would laugh when I said I wanted to go to a game. Good luck kid, there's a waiting list miles long.
Now I just need to figure out when I can make the trip up.
Bacon didn't use that exact phrase, but it's pretty clear that's what he meant. I work with about 30 very large, multi-national corporations. The most successful base their entire business model (including internal and supply chain operations) on delivering what customers most want and value, understanding that there may well be variation, but nevertheless a clearly definable set of groups. From there, every goal and objective, process, policy, metric, organizational design, talent, skill and decision is focused on delivering to those customer-defined requirements. It's called "outside-in" thinking.
What Brandon has done is exactly the opposite: "inside-out". He's started with what he thinks the product should be and is now trying to get the "customer" to buy. It's a terribly unsuccessful model in the long run and a recipe for disaster. Good marketing people know this, which is why I think, in all actuality, he is a terrible marketing executive and a worse CEO. The Dominos Pizza turnaround is looking more like a blind squirrel finding a nut than the product of real consumer insights.
Customers vote with their feet, Dave, when you ask them for their opinions and needs but filter their answers through your own vanity.
Great points. On Dominos his only real objective was to make pizza not taste like cardboard. So he did that, passed out free samples and filmed people eating food that used to take like cardboard.
I dont think in four years on the blog I've ever written "this" but the above post by Nija is so good, so accurate and so completely on the mark I'm going to break that streak.
Nija is absolutely correct on all counts. I've spent a lifetime in marketing for several large companies and what he describes is 100% correct - both in the way companies view customers and the substandard methods in which Brandon is marketing Michigan football (his current product from his perspective).
FWIW I worked with a "Brandon-like" CEO for several years whe was just sure of two things:
1. He could convince the customers to buy anything (afterall they are stupid you know)
2. He was not only the smartest guy in the room - he was the smartest guy in every room and any dissenting opinion was quickly squashed.
I dont know what working with Brandon is like but my guess is he's like that given the number of smart people the Michigan Athletic Depatment employ's and the number of mind-numbingly stupid decisions they seem determined to make.
I know UM employees who have been in meetings with DB and the "smartest guy in the room" mentality appears to be an accurate description.
I was against his appointment as AD precisely because he promised to bring a "CEO" approach to the position, especially since in his case his corporate experience was with companies that made their dough in junk mail and cheap pizza.
I agree that DB is sometimes unfairly blamed for things or for decisions that aren't that horrible, but there are far too many that have been foreseeably dumb (GA seating, seatcushiongate, not taking the band to Dallas) and/or obviously motivated by a desire to squeeze every conceivable nickel out of the fans.
That arrogance was refreshing and needed to deal with stretchgate, and comes in handy for dealing with the press. It's infuriating when he acts in that condescending manner towards the fans.
One end of the world where the "inside out" model works is the regulated end of the world, where I make my living. My employer generates and distributes electricity and buys and distributes natural gas to millions of people in the state of Michigan. The only thing is that these products simply are what they are and are consumed relatively quickly (nearly instantaneously, in the case of electricity). Further, at least for electricity, we're the only company you can go to in 13 counties in the state of Michigan. I am sure Dave Brandon wishes he had this sort of audience, but even then, we have to market ourselves to larger customers and we do get service agreements from people who might otherwise go choice.
As for the quote above, this is the one that made me think he may have forgotten which coach he played for:
“You’re a 17-18 year old kid watching the largest crowd in the history of college football with airplanes flying over and Beyonce introducing your halftime show? That’s a pretty powerful message about what Michigan is all about, and that’s our job to send that message.”
I don't remember any of that remotely resembling Michigan and what it was about, even when I was there in the mid to late 1990s. Like Bacon said, the world Brandon is creating at Michigan Stadium is the one I would go to Michigan Stadium to escape for a few hours.
If I wanted piped-in music and celebrity half time shows and all that kind of stuff, wouldn't I just go to a NFL game where you can't schedule a home schedule full of garbage? NFL season ticket holders complain about having to pay for preseason games. This year's schedule is barely better than NFL preseason games, and they have spent the last several years steadily decreasing what we liked about going to games and making it more like the pro experience.
While I think what you're describing applies well to the service industry, it's not a good general mantra. The most revolutionary businesses are successful specifically because of inside out thinking. Henry Ford famously said (paraphrasing) that if he'd asked people what they wanted prior to the automobile they would have said a faster horse. And Apple's philosophy that the customer doesn't know what they want until you show them has made them the largest company in the world.
I work exclusively for companies that manufacture products, some of them very large, complex industrial machines; others are cars, still others aircraft or their components. In every case, the segmentation and outside-in discussion of how customers define value; how best to deliver that value; and how to do so profitably are what define the companies that are able to consistently deliver higher financial and corporate performance, customer retention and brand recognition.
Henry Ford's comment is often quoted but completely misunderstood. I could make the same statement about Steve Jobs and the development of the iPad/iPhone/iPod, etc. Both are, in fact, ideal examples of "outside-in" thinking.
Ford and Jobs synthesized insights about "what customers really want" by distilling their hidden needs, wants and desires from observations about their behaviors, lives, etc. In Ford's case, he created a product for working men and women because he had been one himself. In fact, the design of his automobiles accounted for terrible roads because he knew that's where his customers lived. In Job's case, he saw that individuals were ripping music tracks from CDs and creating their own mixed discs but were doing so in violation of copyright laws. That led to the insight that a program like iTunes would address how people wanted to consume music and include the labels and content creators in the process. iTunes then begat the need for the iPod, etc.
If creating a product or service the customer wants is necessarily outside-in thinking then almost any successful busienss could be said to operate that way (excluding utilities and the like).
Regardless, Apple still doesn't work that way. As both Steve Jobs and Jony Ive have said on numerous occasions they design the products they want, with the expectation being others will want them too. However you stretch the definition I don't think you can call that outside-in thinking.
Also, your timeline is wrong. The iPod predated the iTunes Store by something like a year and a half, and before that record lables and content creators were not involved with iTunes. It was actually the iPod that begat the store.
All of the peer-reviewed, curated research says otherwise. Most recently, my company's 2013 benchmarking survey of 70 of the world's largest supply chains clearly demonstrated that companies following an outside-in business model have the following results versus companies with an "inside-out" model:
→ 15% Improvement in Inventory Levels
→ 30% Improvement in Cash-to-Cash Cycle Times
→ 17% Improvement in Perfect Order/Customer Service (including 28% improvement in On-Time Delivery)
→ 12% Improvement in Working Capital
→ 15% Improvement in Forecast Accuracy
→ 20% Improvement in New Product Launch Commercialization
→15% reduction in direct materials costs
→30-50% improvement in engineering cycle times
→ 6% Improvement in Gross Profit
My major point is that the largest company in the world (by market cap) explicitly follows inside-out thinking, and that's obviously worked very well for them. Are you stating that I am wrong, and Apple is not an example of inside-out thinking? And if so, can you point to a company product or services company that actually does use inside-out thinking?
Can't even see the article...did Dave Brandon get someone to shut down Bacon's server?
I thought Bakes hit the nail squarely on the head. Brandon is the Wolf of State Street.
I think MGOBLOG crashed his site! sorry john.. haha... or was the article too real for Brandon?
Edit: Right when I post this comment the story is back on John's website.
The last season I bought season tickets was 2011 because I saw this storm coming. Haven't been to Michigan stadium since. Its sad but I refuse to fill the "brands" bank account. Maybe when my son gets older to give him the experience my dad never could afford to give me but that would be it.
you didn't renew after a 12-2 season, a BCS win and a brand new Head coach, because you could foresee the future ? Can you please reference your MGoBlog post as verification of your prodigous prognostification talents ?
Can you also please let us all know when the next stock market correction will occur !
no I'm not talking about the product on the field. I'm talking about the prices on the ticket that were rising. $85 for EMU was drawing the line in the sand for me.
Michigan isn't the only one who is having this type of problem. Bama have a big problem with retaining students and they're way better than Michigan as a program. Not about wins. Students do truly feel like they need wifi which is their #1 priority when they're at the game so they can be on social media.
Which is why when CSG surveyed students last year about how to improve attendance, wifi placed last. Wifi will not solve this problem by itself, and I'm not sure how much it will actually help to be honest.
Bama students pay $10/ticket per game. Demand is so high, incoming freshman are only allowed a half season. My daughter got the plan with Florida and Mississippi State.
Not to mention they get to watch a team competing for titles in the country's toughest conference.
And yet, wasn't there an article last year about low student attendance at Alabama, also?
That is a much different problem than Michigan is having. At least Alabama's students are buying the tickets. No WiFi may be the reason that they buy tickets and don't go to the games, but it isn't the reason Michigan students/fans aren't buying the tickets in the first place.
DB is trying to fix the wrong problem; we haven't had that problem in a few years.
Angelique Chengelis writes on student attendace today, focusing largely on Michigan and MSU: LINK.
Her's is a good and balanced read, while Bacon's is a mystery because you selfish bastards have overloaded his website and I can't get access to the article.
[Edit - I powered through, and the Bacon article is one of the best things he's written in years. Anything I disagree with in that article is a trifling matter, and it's well worth your time to read. I still think you're selfish bastards, though.]
Bacon writes. I especially agree with this article wholeheartedly. The whole of college football is dangerously close to becoming something I just don't like very much anymore. It is Michigan's job to modernize without bastardizing. Not to suck out every nickle from every fan while putting on a "mini Superbowl" 7 times a year. Who has the energy or money for that crap?
This is the death of Michigan Exceptionalism. Any lingering feelings that Michigan was special or different from other colleges in regards to athletics has died under this AD. Despite his history and closeness to the program, Dave Brandon still sees his alma mater as a brand and runs it like a national pizza chain.
Not everything Dave Brandon has done has been bad and he most certainly receives a lot of criticism for fairly innocuous things, but he has fundametally changed the relationship between the AD and the students/fans for the worse.
Furthermore, Brandon and the B1G are some of the fiercest defenders of the "collegiate model" and "amateurism" which is infuriating due to their constant attempts to monetize and brand the shit out of everything. If you want to hide behind "the collegiate model", don't try to run your athletic department like you're the Dallas Cowboys.
On top of all the valid points in other posts. After years of sitting in the same section, row, seats , the "program" just up and decided to move me. Really? Yes, this screams we are not even customers but pawns.
Despite it all I still bleed blue and will support during the lows and highs. The support the team not the adminstrators of the business.
Not surprisingly, Angelique writes a similar article, but basically recites the U's position.
Sadly, Brandon has also created an environment with the media where those who rely on daily access for their job are turned into shills for U. Good for him, bad for the fans/alums.
Uh, great minds think alike?
The headline of her article is insulting to the students IMO.
"Amid fickle students, comforts of home, schools scramble to unload football tickets"
Today's students are no more "fickle" than they were back in 1981 when I was a student. They are fans who are fed up with being shat upon by an Athletic Department who treats them as an unpleasant nusance and makes their gameday experience exponentially more unpleasant than the one I enjoyed centuries ago.
When I was in school tickets were cheap, we could sell them to anybody who wanted tot buy them and not just other students, we could bring in ANYTHING that wasnt in a bottle (including kegs BTW), could sit where we wanted for the most part (meaning with friends) and get into the stadium just like the everybody else. I feel pretty safe in saying that if I forced back in the day to go through the bullshit we put today's students through I'd probably have taken the same route many of them have and told the Athletic Department to shove it and found something else to do on Saturday afternoons in the fall.
Thanks for the nice compliments. They are very much appreciated.
I completely agree ... I'm a bit younger than you are, going to my first game as a student in 1986. However, while bringing in our own containers was by then prohibited, we weren't accosted by the event staff looking for alcohol. Games were easily affordable and it was the shared experience with friends that made for real, lasting memories. I can still remember as much about the high-fives after a come-back victory as I do about the winning touchdowns. I remember the moments, the band, the cheering. I also recall feeling like a part of a shared tradition that stretched back farther than my parents and grandparents.
Nija, you hit on something. Games always seemed like events that were "ours". Traditions, high-fives, tailgating... all "ours". Now it seems like many/most game-day things are "theirs", and they will allow us to still participate in, if we donate enough or pay enough.
Someone else said it better, when they summed it up as bottling up everything we love about Michigan, and selling it back to us.
Yes, to Njia's comments. "Shared Tradition" is a very brief phrase that encapsulates much of this discussion. When I went to games, I had a sense of sharing something with alumni and thousands of others stretching back for generations. This is increasingly being lost. Admittedly, traditions change, times change, things change. But we still long for a sense of shared community, shared values, and for being part of something bigger.
I took my boy to a White Sox game last month. We had a good enough time, but there was little sense of community or "shared tradition." There were fireworks, there were batting cages for the kids, there was a speed gun to see how fast you could pitch. And yet, you didn't have the sense of being part of something that stretched back in time.
For a positive sense of "shared tradition," I talked to a fellow Michigan Alumni who was at the graduation of his nephew from West Point a couple weeks ago. West Point is a place that drips tradition. You realize, this was where Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses Grant, and Pershing, and Patton, and Eisenhower, and countless others, spent four years. You sense the community in the "long grey line." You sense how all graduating officers have such a strong, strong sense of "shared tradition."
This is the kind of thing that we want, and that is draining away. It is almost as if Michigan football were on life support, and Brandon was applying leeches in the firm belief that this would heal things. Ok, maybe that image is over the top. And maybe more than Dave Brandon is to blame. But I wish there was a way to move forward, successfully, without desecrating the traditions and community so many of us Michigan grads identify with so strongly.
Brandon was going through the pockets of the patient, looking for loose change and credit cards."
This comment is right on point. The turnover in this site's attitude toward students since the GA debacle has been incredible. Move after move after move has been aimed at hitting the students and it's finally coming back to bite the AD. Getting rid of GA is a step in the right direction, but it's going to take a lot more than that to get the student body back on board and numbers back where they were.
People can take the "high and mighty" view toward the students all they want and rant about how back in their day the did this or that, but so many are out of touch with what the students have experienced. Actually thinking about what is going to get them to want to show up might be a different change of pace instead of thinking about ways to get more money from them and force them to show up. If people think the Big House is going to be a great atmosphere without the students, they will be in for a pretty big surprise.
Maybe a free pizza if they arrive to all home and away games 1 hour prior to kickoff is what students want...
One way to figure out what students want includes involving them in the process of policy formation. That's something the AD didn't do at all when coming up with its GA policy, and it designed the least functional seating policy of any sports organization I've ever seen.
I graduated in 2010. I bought season tickets for around $200 and put that on a credit card (CitiBank gave a 18 year old 5,000 in credit in 2006 with 5.9% APR.... fools).
The cost sucks but I did it because.... THIS IS MICHIGAN.
I can honestly say, regardless of talent on the field, $300 to a student working his way through college would be a major, major detriment. We forget that not everone on campus has tuition paid for and spending money subsidized my parents who want to continue the tradition of their kids going to Michigangames.
I really think that $300 (plus everything else) has to be somewhere around the breaking point for students.
Angelique put out another stellar article, calling students fickle and such:
I mean, I hate to be that guy, but doesn't this seem a little....oh, I don't know, narrow minded? Granted, I'm not a student and haven't been since 2005, but in this day and age with raises being frozen, gas prices, parking fees, etc,. there's a lot more at play in students choosing to not go to the games than them simply being 'fickle'.
Sure, on field performance matters, but when I was in college, I had to depend on my parents helping me out to support weekend tailgates at Ann Arbor Pioneer (yeah, I went to U of M Flint, deal with it). It's totally understandable a segment of students out there simply can't afford gameday and everything that comes with it. Calling people names just seems ...well, it seems like the Detroit News.
I am not a big John Bacon fan, and I have a feeling that, as long as I can afford it, I will always go to Michigan football games, regardless of what Brandon or anyone else does. But he does make some good points in this piece, and I hope Brandon or his people read this and consider it. The students of today are the season ticket holders of the future. If they don't buy them while they're in college, they are far less likely to buy them once they graduate.
I went to Wayne Law. While I was there, many of my peers did not care for our dean. Now, they refuse to donate to the law school and instead choose to support their undergraduate school exclusively. This makes me so sad, but there is nothing to be done - they disliked the dean while we were there and that makes them not want to support the school. I feel like the same thing will happen with today's UM students - the athletic dept is leaving a bad taste in their mouths now that will not go away when they graduate.
I know the popular thing to do is bash Brandon for everything but this is something that is going on everywhere (I'm focusing on students for the time being). A majority of the BCS programs have had declining ticket sales for years and have had trouble with no shows, Michigan is not unique and its certainly not because of some stupid music during commercial breaks or Beyonce at halftime.
Bacon is increasingly sounding like the stubborn my way or the highway type fans who tried to run Richrod off before he even arrived on campus. I guarantee the no-show or no-buy students don't give flying fuck that they play commercials during breaks or pipe in music. Its 50-something year old "get off my lawn" types that protest that.
I'm sure if you polled all the students who didn't renew it would be either going to the game is too much of a pain in the ass or tickets have gotten too expensive.
Thats not to say Brandon is perfect, far from it. There was that disgrace of a rollout of GA seating (who the fuck thinks general admission means assigning seats in the order you walk in) and in at least 20 years they still haven't figured out how to get people into the stadium and in their seats in under an hour.
That being said, any attempt to assign all blame to him is misguided.
Well, to answer your question, yes, Brandon is a big part of the blame for why students are not buying tickets. If you go to campus and poll some students, I guarantee that their biggest problem would be with the GA ticket policy. The students (me included at the time), ranted endlessly about how it was going to be a terrible move. Students organized protests on campus over the GA policy. Were they huge? No, but we're talking about protests ... over a football seating policy. If that's happening, you have to realize there's going to be a problem.
Surprisingly, the GA seating policy was a complete failure and made the problem even worse than it was before. Not only was I personally told by people that they did not buy 2013 and 2014 tickets because of the policy, but others who did buy tickets told me that they intentionally went late to games to try and make the policy look worse. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but I'm saying it to convey how much the students despised this seating policy. This is a policy that Brandon rolled out (for whatever reason) and turned the students against him. Brandon has made some moves that annoyed the students (neutral game locations, basketball seating, etc.), but nothing like this.
Whatever your opinion of the GA policy and the students' responses, this is easily the biggest thing that has led to this massive drop. On top of that, when you're trying to get more money out of a group that already has no money (college debt goes up each year), this kind of fallout should be expected. Later on, the AD went around after GA failed and tried to question the students about what kind of seating policy they wanted. Wouldn't this have made sense before introducing a new policy? If you are that out of touch with students about seating, you shouldn't be making fundamental changes to student ticket policies.
Not every problem is Brandon's fault, but I give him and the department at least 80-90% of the blame with the student issues. The students should be your most dedicated fans and are easily the loudest section of the crowd. Now, you're losing out on a huge hunk of crowd noise and future buyers because you not only wanted students to wait in line for 10 hours to see a game they didn't have to wait for before, but you also wanted them to pay more to do it. Anybody with common sense can see why this would turn the students against the AD.
"I guarantee the no-show or no-buy students don't give flying fuck that they play commercials during breaks or pipe in music."
I don't think that's the case for all of the students you're talking about. Some of them have undoubtedly grown up within the culture of Michigan Football as it was pre-Brandon and Martin. Many of them are the children of the GOML alums.
Sure, there are other factors at play, but I don't think you can dismiss this one out of hand.
come up with a policy decision to fix student attendance issues, you can dismiss rock music and commercials as a significant factor.
Will say, don't think that's a very significant factor for students. Also, I think it's worth noting that they aren't so much "commercials" as they are "commercials for the AD." I think that's an important distinction that a lot of people overlook.
part of the reason other BCS schools are also experiencing declining student attendance is because they are doing the same stupid shit we are. No one is saying that Brandon is the only misguided AD out there---it just that he's ours.
lower the student ticket prices, give them free WiFi so they can post during the game. Social media is the best advertisement to get other students there.
Make them $10 a game. Enforce the validating thing to prevent sales to non-students. It could be completely covered by the AD surplus.
This is laughable. Come on.
watches every game religiously with other non-alums, I can say it's propbably the 60" TV effect for us. We go to one game a year but it's becoming more of a "duty" now. We don't want to break our 12 year string.
We don't care about the band but we do hate the rawk music and extra noisy bullshit on the big screen every second play is not in motion. We also really don't mind the ticket price or the price of the concessions, but even for us something about the experience from when we started this thing 12 years ago to now is vastly different. I can't imagine how pissed I'd be if I'd actually attended the school and/or was getting bent over as a long time season ticket holder.
DB has really accomplished in a positive frame regarding the football Saturday experience.
He has imparted more regulations than any previous AD that I can think of ... water @ $4.50, the seat cusion debacle, closing an entire gate for students only, cost for university football parking increasing every year. He screwed the home crowd with the Jerry Jones bowl with Alabama and continues to treat the U of M student like shit.
Can anyone think of a positive change that is now a part of a Michigan football Saturday ?
I generally enjoy John Bacon's writing but he is increasingly acting like a jilted lover. Constantly trying to get revenge on the AD which has marginalized him in the wake of his latest book, he just plain hates Brandon and it shows. This piece is nothing.
Are you Dave's wife, son, or some other relative? Or are you Hunter Lochmann? Or some other AD employee who monitors social media?
timing suggests its the other way around. Brandon started treating Bacon like a jilted lover almost immediately following "3 and Out". That's something Angelique will never have to worry about.
I've had alumni season tickets since 2009. I gave them up last year for a few reasons, all of which Bacon has touched on:
- They are really expensive - with PSLs plus per game ticket prices, it is very expensive, and my seats were amongst the cheapest;
- I live out of state, so I would attend one game a year and sell the remaining tickets. Because of a weak product plus a really pitiful schedule, I often had to sell tickets for well below face value. Thus, the actual cost of me attending one game was many many times above face value (excluding travel)
- The in-stadium experience now is no different than a NFL game. I don't want a commercialized product.
- Because the in-stadium experience is totally commercial, I'd rather watch the game on my giant TV, drink some beer, enjoy the air conditioning, and mute the commercials (or flip to another game).
I might be willing to put up with the prices and commercialization if Michigan were winning 11 games a year, but I really doubt it. At the end of the day, it'd be more economical for me to buy tickets to the one game I want to attend on Stubhub and not get saddled with a bunch of dead weight.
I'm a current student. People don't go because they'd rather get up, get bombed, go get some food, and go to sleep/watch it on their couch instead of standing in the stadium and watching the team suck. Now don't get pissed at me, I go to every game and cheer my ass off. But I also didn't buy student tickets for the upcoming year. Instead of buying student tickets I decided I would just spend literally 30 seconds before the game looking for someone at my tailgate who's too drunk to go. Give them 10-20 bucks and save 50-75% on the ticket. It's that simple. Students get very, very drunk on game days, and the product these last few years just hasn't been good enough to change their minds and make them into rabid football fans (keep in mind, 50% of students are from outside of Michigan, and didn't grow up as huge michigan football fans). That's the unfortunate truth and it needs to change, student indifference to the football team has got to be at an all time high currently.
All the other explanations are just politically correct or naïve.
Automotive industry "brain drain" -- are you f'ing kidding me!?
When I was a student, we kicked ass on the field. And most people got drunk after the game. We packed them in, stood the entire game, and went to every game. If we were winning now, there would be no need for all this other stuff. I'm not a season ticket holder and live out of town, but this is the first season where I'm not considering coming to a game. I can just see them in Evanston when they play Northwestern. The level of excitement is pretty low for me right now.
This is the truth!
Most students are new fans and don't feel a need to be there in the stands if the team is losing. Call them fair-weather, but they are just optimizing their free time. Drink and party with girls or watch a team lose; students are choosing the former. Bacon is right on the conclusion, but wrong on the primary cause - which is essentially that students have limited cash and time and they want to spend it on having fun, drinking and partying.
I've never quite gotten this. You have all night and sometimes afternoon to drink. There are seven days a year where you can take it easy in the morning and party later. The game meant more to me than getting plastered by noon. However I was an 03-06 student and grew up a Michigan fan. Maybe I just don't understand the casual fan
Is anyone attributing declining attendance partially to the Michigan brain drain? In particular between 2008 and recently when auto companies (and pretty much all other Detroit-area companies) weren't hiring, alums had to leave the state to find work. I'm sure that's always been happening, but of the major group of people I graduated with in 2009, most of them left Michigan and aren't buying season tickets. At best, we make it back for one game a season, but even that is a stretch.
No... you don't need a brain to attend a game. Just a body to fill a seat. There are plenty of non-alums who attend the games so the diaspora of alums should only have a minimal effect.
if michigan is competing for big ten titles every year, then attendance is not an issue.
current students have either seen one good year, or none at all. and since more and more students are from out-of-state and therefore not as inclined to be michigan football fans before coming, all they know is the current mediocre product.
michigan basketball is equally commercialized, and there is no attendance problem there.
This is the truth. New students are young kids who are not indoctrinated in Michigan sports. They spend their time playing Candy Crush, sending snapchats and drinking. They don't sit around all day on MGoBlog worrying about the football team (except for Michigan Devotee). Therefore, when there is even the slightest negative stimulus, like a losing season or increasing prices or a weaker home schedule or cold weather or clouds or a hangover or a midterm or a chance to hook up with some hot mess than they are not going to attend the game.
Once the team starts winning again, the stands will be full again and all of these worries will evaporate like your next paycheck.
I really dislike my generation.
I hate being even associated with that group who is oohed and ahhed by the newest thing only to lose interest in it 5 minutes later.
No affiliations, no ties. Just moving to the next "in" thing.
Yeah no. I was raised on michigan through the 80's and 90's. Wins will not bring me back. Only the removal of the constant commercialized product will bring me back. Michigan football is NOT a product. It is a tradition not to be sold. For all I complained about Bill Martin, he was correct. Just because you can charge more doesn't mean you should.
I feel the same way. This quote at the end of Bacon's piece from his friend really summed it up for me: Michigan athletics used to feel like something we shared. Now it’s something they hoard. Anything of value they put a price tag on. Anything that appeals to anyone is kept locked away—literally, in some cases—and only brought out if you pay for it. And what’s been permanently banished is any sense of generosity.
i was referring to student attendance issues. alumns around pre 2000s are a whole different beast.
I'm reading everyone's responses and keep thinking "explain basketball"!! Also loud music and commercialized as well. Just admit you don't want to go because we stink. If you are labeled fair weathered, so be it. Who cares? It's hard to watch a crappy team. We all know it. Anyone enjoying the Tigers lately? Like Tai says, quit blowing hot air. And a lot of people don't mind the changes he's made. I don't love them all, but I don't expect them to change everything to MY liking. come on.
In Brandon's defense, $100 million will be put into new non-revenue sport facilities. UofM prides itself on having Olympic caliber varsity level teams, they think it raises the prestige of the school. Here's the problem though - attendance levels and fundraising at non-revenue sports is not covering the operating costs and future costs for facility improvements!
Brandon did it completely wrong. They should have spread out the non revenue sport renovations over time. They're doing a bunch all at once and he needs every penny he can get.
The taking the "customer" for granted has been going on at the Big House and at the University itself for some time. A2 has become a money grab led by the MBA smartest guys in the room.
Fiscal responsibility is an abstract thought. The mantra is get bigger, don't cut ,spend more, pay for it by charging fans and students more because they will. We are Michigan!
I am a two time UM grad who has a child applying to colleges. It is very interesting to see how UM markets itself versus MSU. UM needs to get over itself, and stop taking students, alums, and fans for granted.
You don't have to take Marketing 101 to understand that people have choices with their time and money and will spend it where THEY THINK they get the most value.
Bacon touches on the exact reasons I dropped my season tickets. It want for a winning team, hell I am a cubs fan and a Purdue alum. So, I am used to losing. I dropped my tickets because Brandon made the "privilege" of being a Michigan season ticket holder a complete sham. Football games are just an excuse for Brandon to drive up donations. He lost me as a season ticket holder during the infamous MMB rent the big house for weddings show. Beyoncé, 7 dollar hot dogs, laser shows are not the michigan difference.
It wasn't for...
cosign 100%. second year back in A2 after graduating in '07. i'll go to Miami with my dad (he's an alumnus of both schools). we'll buy tix on Stubhub or the street for less than face value of an unvalidated student ticket.
the bubble is popping.
also, G-cache link for the article, which has been swamped: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:17q2ETwCz-0J:johnubacon.com/2014/06/the-real-reasons-why-students-and-others-are-bailing-on-michigan-football-tickets/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
That said, win games and most of the displeasure goes away. When you are stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity, people tend to find any and everything they can to complain about. Just win games and beat rivals and this stuff recedes back to the fringes again.
UGA student tickets are $50 per season. WTF
Winning fixes everything. After the disaster of 2013, people want to see good football. Put that on the field, and Brandon can charge whatever he wants.
No, winning doesn't fix everything. There are a lot of schools that would have killed to have what Michigan used to have. USC and Miami are two schools that have fans show up when times are good, but when times a poor they empty out.
A streak of 100,000 fans going back alomost 40 years is about something far more lasting than just having a winning season.
Bacon's article moves quickly from the subject of low student attendance to (paraphrasing) 'everything I don't like about Brandon and UM football but 'it's not because I lost my press credentials". Since Bacon's article is all over the place, so are the comments. Some complain justifiably about the prices for everything, some cannot reconcile the current experience with their traditional view of a MIchigan football experience (Beyonce, etc.). Some point to the shitty home schedule and the recent records. Tossed aside by Bacon is the availablability of HD television. There are many moving parts in this problem, whether you define it as student attendance or attendance. The change away from the seniority student model didn't just come out of Brandon's ass, it was an attempt to address the problem of students showing up late, which many here bitched about. It, obvioiusly, spectacularly failed (like the sky writing over Lansing). I don't even know what goals Brandon is trying to meet or who set them. From far outside, it looks like maximizing short term revenue it the primary goal. I guess the idea is that we want to win, so we need a lot of money to attract coaches, athletes, etc. That is not the same as a goal of meeting the wants and needs of students, or alumni or television networks or televison viewers. I don't know who makes the decisions about what Brandon is ultimately supposed to be accomplishing, but it appears to be short term revenue maximization. He is satisfying that goal. I think it is the wrong goal and long-term loyalty is far more important. The students rated seating as their most important issue. That is the place to start, but it is only a small part of the problem. As others noted, many good programs (not to mention the NFL) are experiencing declining attendance. I agree that the outside-in approach is best (I forget what they called it when I took marketing classes in 1974, but it certainly existed and was promoted by professors). It might be easier to focus on these problems with a few less variables (after the sucky schedule and sucky recent record). Ultimately, however, I don't know what Brandon's goal is, satisfying students or alumni or TV audiances or just throwing anything against the wall and hoping it makes everybody happy or pisses everybody off, but gains revenue.
Once I forced myself to read his annoying one-line sentences (did he teach this in his class?), all I took away was a collection of lines that are loosely connected to each other, all trying to make some larger point that its the AD's fault in addition to technology. Which made it all feel like the workings someone who feels he as been wronged by "the system." Next thing you know, Bacon is going to be sending special packages in the mail to the AD.
- I actually like Martin's idea of students getting in free. Check IDs at the door. First come, first served. The downside of having to show up so early is offset by the upside of paying $0. The problem with GA seating at M stadium is that the size of the seats is for an ass the size of a grade schooler. When you don't give people an actual seat, they'll choose to sit comfortably (shock!) and 21,000 students won't fit into those 21,000 "seats." So the remedy there would be to have individual chair-back seats as opposed to boundaryless bleachers. Can't get 115K attendance? Add more rows to the top.
- As to branding, I'd be willing to bet Canham thought and maybe even talked about branding all the time, but I'd be willing to double down that he never referred to Michigan Athletics as such in public or the press.
- More about branding: the first step is to determine what you want the brand to mean in the hearts and minds of consumers. I think DB would even agree that means "tradition, honor, integrity, and excellence," or something along those lines. Once you make that determination, all marketing executions should communicate that to the consumer. In my opinion, most of what has been going on lately communicates quite the opposite.
- Clearly, intercollegiate athletics is a service-based product, and not a manufactured, tangible one. In service marketing, being consistently successful means giving consumers a "wow" experience; i.e., they get a lot more than they expect. By definition, that means you give a lot of the surplus value to the consumer and not try to put as much of that into your own coffers as possible.
Begs the question how Brandon got the reputation for turning Dominos around. Answer may likely be that the product he's best at selling is himself.
Not a Brandon fan but it looks like the stock was growing prior to 2007 when the overall market fell apart. Strong growth post 2009 would match the overall markets growth. A comparison of performance to similar stocks, or same store sales growth vs. papa johns, would be a better measure of performance.
I would note that the our Pizza used to suck campaign appeared to be a significant rebranding effort post Brandon which would call in to question his Brand approach while CEO. Was the switch his plan that was implemented after he left? If so it would support his image as a strong brand manager. If they immediately abandoned his approach when he exited not so much
Is one that worries me too:
Regardless of any specific policy issues, treating your customers as nothing but a wallet makes them think of your product as a product with no value beyond the economic exchange. If you don't treat your customers as participants in the shared delusion of rooting for laundry, then don't be surprised when they tell you that the laundry across the street has better players for cheaper, or that it's easier to buy a new shirt.
I find it ironic in an article decrying crass commercialisn how Bacon manages to plug his latest book at least 3 times.
I caught that too...so yeah...everyone has their gig
The difference is that Brandon is ostensibly the steward of something far more important than a business: a university, an alma mater, a tradition.
An ad hominem attack on Bacon's profit motives is irrelevant to evaluating the merit of his argument that Dave Brandon has "Ticketmastered" UM football.
Where is the ad hominem attack? Or any attack for that matter? It's completely fair game to recognize all parties' potential interests in any discussion.
That comes with the territory of being a public, opinionated figure, as Bacon willingly and eagerly makes himself.
I actually agree with most of what he says but fair is fair.
Brandon trying to make each football Saturday at Michigan Stadium the Super Bowl is completely off target. Each Michigan Football game was like going to church. There were traditions. Things were passed down from father to son. The music was highly integral to the experience. There were no ads.
The game day experience sucks and Brandon is entirely to blame. The sooner Brandon is fired like he was from Vlassis (the CEO gig he had before Domino's, which is the CEO gig he had where he had to admit on national TV that the product they sold to customers was garbage), the sooner things will get back to where they should be, starting with a football that doesn't just quote the historic accomplishments of it the teams that came before, but adds to those accomplishments.
I have no idea how a man like Brandon makes millions; he's arrogant and evidently convinces himself that his ideas are brilliant, when in fact, they are garbage.
There's a reason why the article struck a nerve with the fan base. Michigan Football should be about a sense of community and tradition, not spectacle.
Bacon said it best: if you start treating fans like customers that's what they'll start acting like.
Look at the decline in student ticket sales on Brandon's watch; it is staggering. He may have raised profits, but in the long term there are a lot of michigan students who graduated during his tenure that will regard UM football with the fondness of a Ticketmaster concert. Fun, but no more than they were forced to pay for.
Their long term willingness to donate to the program and commitment to being fans after graduation is likely to wane; if they aren't even buying tickets as undergrads why would they bear incredible expense to have season tickets after graduation?
You should take a look at what other schools' students are paying. There was a good conversation about this over at reddits college football subreddit and I was shocked to hear students at Clemson and Oregon pay NOTHING for football tickets, while much of the SEC including schools like GA charge $7 a game or so for students. Michigan is way out of line with schools with comparable fan bases and far smaller stadiums.
The goal is not to Ticketmaster your students, it's to build a sense of camaraderie and affection to the university and team that will sustain a lifetime of fandom. Can anyone say with a straight face Brandon has been trying to accomplish the latter goal rather than the former?
I don't think I have ever read an article ripping a school to get virtually everyone to agree on before. In this situation that is unfortunate. Avoid the Noid.
Michigan football games used to be the Masters. A gratifying in-person experience that was truly unique.
Over the last handful of years, it's become random tournament in the middle of July that has a different sponsor every four years.
I've been to the Masters once and walked out of there feeling like the #1 goal the organizers had was to make it a special experience for their patrons. Clearly, they are monetizing the event with the TV deal and the handful of corporate sponsorships. However, every interaction you have as a paying customer is one of them trying to provide you with good value, not extract every last dollar. I very clearly remember being pleasantly surprised by this on more than one occasion.
The fact that the Masters is different is what makes it a great in-person event. Michigan football is now like most other sporting events I can attend. That being said, the band is still awesome and I give them credit for keeping some of the pageantry of game day afternoons alive.
I don't see what the University has to gain by charging students these ridiculous prices for tickets. They should let anyone with a Student ID into the game until the seats are filled.
To call Brandon mindlessly profit-seeking and “unfair” to the UM faithful may have some truth. But it sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Bacon himself sold out UM to bring home the bacon. He made money off UM’s troubles under RR Also, his one-sided book, based on the words of a fired coach, hardly seemed “fair”. It made UM look bad.
Granted, Brandon has made some head-scratching moves (student tickets, games with Ala, Appy State and MSU, an exploitable contract with ND, etc.). If I were a student, I’d probably be pissed. Also, I wish that "college" sports were still college sports. But UM has to find a way to succeed in the real world, not in my own wish-fulfilling fantasies.
While Bacon’s job is to find stories, Brandon’s job is to make money, pay coaches, and enhance UM’s image. It’s easy to make fun of him: a guy who sometimes seems to sell UM like a pizza. But Bill Martin’s laissez-fare tenure and the RR fiasco made UM concerned about image. UM needed a more “hands-on” leader who knew about image making in the new world of sports media, biased committees, rich boosters, and public relations firms.
In criticizing Brandon, Bacon tries to make Bill Martin into a heroic figure. I appreciate that Martin faced extraordinary challenges, and I don’t doubt that he’s a decent guy with integrity. Yet, during his tenure, he let UM look like they still were guilty, while he was getting his pocket picked by Ohio. Martin was busy issuing mea culpas over ten year-old NCAA violations (judged by an Ohio alum and the current Ohio AD), while Ohio was busy hiring a shady new coach who had been accused of NCAA violations. Then Ohio paid unheard-of sums to public relations firms to reduce public pressure. They kept the school out of NCAA jail for ten years before the public found out what everyone else knew: that Tressel was a liar.
If public relations firms in Ohio could have kept a liar like Tressel out of jail for ten years, similar help could have made decent people like LC and RR look like saints. But in retrospect, Martin seemed to help little with Lloyd Carr’s annual questions about retirement, rumors of illness, or public debates, about whether #3 Fla or #2 UM should play for a national title. Even worse, Martin seemed to help little after a disastrous coaching search, leaked information, public bickering between alums, and the selection of a spread–formation coach that did not match the personnel. He did not give RR a big media build-up, or help him publicly deal with tough questions, as Brandon did for Brady Hoke. So, the media seemed to attack RR for a new reason every week: from player records to academics to lawsuits to practice-gate (which involved a lack of guidance and oversight from Martin’s own administrative staff).
So, UM turned to a businessman, Brandon, who had expertise in branding. I personally do not seek people like Brandon when I want to go out for a beer. But, after the RR fiasco, UM may have needed a guy like him: an autocratic, “hands-on” leader who knew something about marketing and image making. Maybe someday we will no longer need that. But with the direction that college football is heading, I won't hold my breath.
It's just not the same.
I was once the biggest sunshine pumper on this board. I've been pretty negative after last year's shit show, but really i want the team to do great this year. I really do. But it's still not the same. The whole presentation of gameday is changed compared to even a few years ago. It's sad because I know I'm not the only one that feels this way.
This is a good quote as well:
After a friend of mine took his kids to a game, he told me, “Michigan athletics used to feel like something we shared. Now it’s something they hoard. Anything of value they put a price tag on. Anything that appeals to anyone is kept locked away—literally, in some cases—and only brought out if you pay for it. And what’s been permanently banished is any sense of generosity.”
I have lived in GA for the last 4 years. I've had season tickets for the last 8. This is the first year I actually sat down and put a ton of thought into wether I wanted to renew or not. Here's the thoughts that affected me in the order that they affected me most.
1. Results. I liked Rich Rod when he was hired. I know that puts me in the minority, but it's the truth. I also wonder if Rich Rod were here in 2011 if he would not have had the same record that Hoke did. The regression from 2011 through 2013 didn't necessarily shock me, but it angered me greatly. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations for this team, but I honestly believe that a. we should only lose to MSU once every so often, not the other way around. b. we should beat OSU more than they beat us, not the other way around. c. we shouldn't be on the verge of losing to teams like Akron and win on a hope and a prayer of a last play. and d. we should be in the running for the B1G Championship game or at it every year. I don't think anyone here can say we have done any of that in a long time.
2. Price. I didn't like the PSD but figured it was how College Football was moving and I just needed to suck it up. Michigan was doing ok so I wasn't more than just annoyed at the moneygrab. Then prices started going up. I did some research on the average cost of season tickets for college football. Shockingly I couldn't find much data. There was this article which indicates that in 2013 Michigan had the 3rd highest cost of season tickets. Anyone remember if we put the 3rd best team in college football on the field last year? I paid around $1400 including my mandatory donation for the 2013 season. I really don't feel like I got my moneys worth out of it. http://www.businessinsider.com/25-colleges-top-football-ticket-sales-2013-8. It's also interesteing to read the article as it addresses teams like Alabama which had prices go DOWN and their price is below the average for the entire B1G. Makes me wonder if some of this price grabbing is a pandemic in the B1G and not entirely just DB.
3. Atmosphere. I don't really know what else to call it, and that word is definitely misleading. I love going to the game. There's nothing like walking in on ground level and just watching the crowd extend downward for what seems like a mile in all directions. I'm talking about the 'competing with the 60 in hdtv' argument. On TV, if there's a questionable call, we get to see it from several different angles and several times over. In the big house, you're lucky if you get to see it once. I know they said they were going to increase the number of replays, but I expected it to become useful. It's hard to get replays in when you're too busy showing the basketweaving competition advertisement on the big screen.
I will say that this is my final straw year. This is what has to happen, or they will lose me as a season ticket holder as well.
1. Win. Plain and simple. I want 9 wins this year and at least 1 win over a rival that matters (IE, OSU or MSU)
2. Fire Hoke if winning isn't working. You can argue all you want about volatility and the affect it will have, but if I only have the stability of a 7 or 8 win season to look forward to I'll take the volatility.
3. Adress the concerns of the students. They are the ones that matter. Without students, you have a pro team. Detroit already has one shitty pro team. Get better network coverage, get wifi, whatever it is that makes the student body WANT to come.
4. Price yourself competitively to the product. Don't raise prices on the tickets, don't raise the PSD. Lower them. Maybe put in an incentive to keeping season tickets. It's obvious the points system doesn't do anything really other than reward people who can make large lump sum dontations. So maybe put in a seniority bonus. At 5 years of consecutive season ticket purchases you get $5 off per ticket, at 10 you get $10. Make me feel like more than just a customer because if I continue to feel like I customer I'm going to stop dedicating myself and my money to you and start treating you like a business. That means I only come to you and buy from you when I want to. Being in GA, that means I'll probably not be coming to you all that often.