Where does one even begin, in deconstructing David Jesse's completely-garbage report on booster donations to the Michigan athletic department.
The headline might be one place, although Jesse no doubt doesn't write headlines. Giving to the Athletic Department has "Soared" under Brady Hoke? Even Jesse's own reporting notes that donations had already started to climb -- up 14% -- in Rodriguez's last months.
There might have been a story here; that donations are up, due to a vastly improved economy, and final sales (after a rush of intial pre-sale purchases to the most inside of Athletic Department insiders) of suites. Dave Ablauf apparently did his level best to give David Jesse that story:
Although an uptick in the economy might have helped, the timing of the increase points to one thing -- the hiring of Brady Hoke to replace Rich Rodriguez.
Athletic department spokesman Dave Ablauf downplayed it, saying the increase is in large part because of work done by the athletic development office in selling seats. He said a big reason suites weren't sold out last year was because those selling the suites were selling something no one had ever seen.
"There might be a slight correlation (with Hoke's hire)," Ablauf said Tuesday. "(But) that number is primarily because of the suite sales."
But the Freep wouldn't have it. They had to have the "get Rodriguez" angle.
And so, the resort to "some fans." Sounds a lot like "some current and former players and their parents." We know about that one. Anyway, "some fans" are apparently a critical journalistic source:
Although athletic department officials would not make a direct link to Hoke, some fans did.
"It's all about Hoke," said Ted Walls, who splits premium seats with a friend. "(Rodriguez) lost too much, plus there was all that off-the-field stuff. We're just glad they decided to go back to someone who knows Michigan. We didn't really want to give them any money to support (Rodriguez), but we really like Hoke, everything he is saying. I think you'll see a lot of fans who gave up on the program coming back now that Hoke is in charge."
Does anybody know "Ted Walls"? If so, I think it would be nice to hear from him, and get his side of his interview with David Jesse. But you go downhill pretty rapidly after Ted Walls, who is at least a part-owner(?!) of some premium seats. You get to Mike Warren. Who, uh, has tickets through his wife's
brother's cousin's friends' grandparents' family:
Ticket holder Mike Warren of Grand Rapids, who has tickets through his wife's family, said he thinks it is all about Hoke.
"Me and some friends were actually talking about getting some of those club seats, but they sold out before we got them," he said recently. "We weren't going to do it if RichRod was still there, but I think Brady is going to turn this whole program around."
But if "some fans" aren't good enough for you, there is always the ever-reliable "many fans." "Many fans" are good if, like, you have no data and the data you do have just totally sucks:
Many fans were discontented with Rodriguez during his three years prowling the sidelines. They didn't like that he broke a long streak by not going to a bowl game, brought NCAA sanctions to the program for the first time, and some didn't warm up to him as football coach because he wasn't a "Michigan man."
Let's be fair to David Jesse; he's a skilled writer. Skilled enough, to write a cleverly meaningless paragraph like that. And "prowling" is a nice touch, wouldn't you agree? Every word of it is true, just like every word of this alternative paragraph is true:
Many fans admired Rodriguez during his three years commanding the sidelines. They didn't like that he was the main vicitm of a front-page Free Press story in 2009, that made substantially false and misleading allegations about the football program's compliance with NCAA sanctions, which led to an investigation which badly hurt the program for most of Rodriguez's last two years, and which in the end turned up violations which were vastly less serious and which might well have been "secondary" violations but for the splashy Free Press campaign against Rodriguez.
Naturally, I have grave misgivings about linking to the story, or even recommending that any of you read it. What I do assure you, is that if you do decide on your own to read it, you will not go more than a paragraph and a half, without face-palming yourself and thinking, "That's crazy... No, that's a gross abuse of that statistic... Wait, I know that's not a true statement..."
And as always, there is the qualifier: It really seems that nothing, but NOTHING sells newspapers and webpage-hits for the Freep, quite like its never-ever ending personal vendetta against Rich Rodriguez.