Week 4 In The Big Ten: Here Comes The Conference

Week 4 In The Big Ten: Here Comes The Conference

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on September 23rd, 2014 at 8:33 PM


For better or worse, the out-of-conference schedule is now firmly behind Michigan and we look towards the next eight games to see how the regular season will shake out for us. Admittedly, right now, the anxiety level if elevated even for me for a lot of reasons which have been discussed ad nauseam on the board in the last few days, so I would rather not spend time dwelling.

Instead, let’s take a look at where Michigan sits with respect to the conference on some basic metrics. Actually, let’s switch this up a bit and start with some tempo-free stuff – these are not all that bad relatively speaking.

We’ll start with point differentials on scoring offense – there is one team in the negative, and it is actually Purdue at -1.6 points. Michigan is not that much higher at 9th, but 3.8 points for a differential is, well, positive. I will put it that way. Here are the conference averages:

 photo Week4SO_zps471aa633.png

 photo Week4SD_zpsa900b8f4.png

Michigan is actually fourth in yards per play differential, largely thanks to great defense, at 1.9 yards per play. Only Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State are doing better in this respect. Of course, the number is in our case a synthesis of being 1st in total defense but 9th in total offense. The relative positioning of the conference members as a function of total yards is below:

 photo Week4TO_zps6f466a47.png

 photo Week4TD_zpsaf0711d5.png

Rushing offense is what you might expect from the Big Ten lately – there is Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana and others, but for the moment, we do fall in at 6th in the conference on this metric, averaging 211 yards per game. That’s still a massive improvement from last year, especially late last year. When it comes to run defense, we’re rather stout, as you will note below:

 photo Week4RO_zps892212b5.png

 photo Week4RD_zps313f3833.png

Our passing numbers…well….we’re 12th in the conference at 193.2 yards per game on average, but 3rd in passing defense. Again, the idea that the defense is carrying the brunt of the load right now seems to play out in the stats this season.

 photo Week4PO_zpsf35a267b.png

 photo Week4PD_zpsa866c857.png

How about some stuff on down differentials? I didn’t do formal charts this time around, but perhaps next week and I know people enjoyed the discussion topic in the past. For both first and third down differentials, Michigan sits nicely in the upper half of Big Ten teams at +6.5 for first downs and +12.5% for third downs. In other words, despite what it looks like sometimes, we are winning some rather key battles on the field for the time being. Our next two Big Ten opponents are in the negative on both these metrics, which on paper is hopeful.


Norfleet Interview

Norfleet Interview

Submitted by Shop Smart Sho… on September 23rd, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Saw this pop up on twitter:



While I think it is great that the players support Hoke, I am very surprised that the program is allowing them to talk to the media.

If given the chance, I'm sure we would all like to reassure the kids that we aren't criticizing their play or effort.  And maybe ask them to talk to someone like Devin who was here when RR got canned.  I'm sure Devin thought RR was a great guy who supported him, and all of the players.  That doesn't mean he was the right coach, at the right time, for Michigan.

Did Jim Boccher scare Brady away from the spread punt?

Did Jim Boccher scare Brady away from the spread punt?

Submitted by iawolve on September 23rd, 2014 at 7:05 PM

I may have the tin foil hat on here, but I struggle when people don't do things that are obvious based on overwhelming evidence and the answer not to do them is "just because". There is always a reason for the behavior. It is possible that there is a deeply held belief system that is interfering with rational action or a past negative experience that simply cannot be overcome to take a different action.

My theory involves a negative experience resulting from Jim Boccher who was on the Michigan staff in 2001 and 2002 before Lloyd promoted him from graduate assistant to special teams coach in 2003, the year Brady left for Ball State. Boccher was early in adopting the spread punt, but to a disasterous effect where in a three game span the results were:

  • Close loss to Oregon who blocked and returned a punt for a TD
  • Win against Indiana who 1 blocked a punt
  • Close loss to Iowa who blocked and returned a punt for a TD

Boccher then left the team for personal reasons the next week in the middle of an absolute fan sh*tstorm and I don't think he ever coached again. I am pretty sure we ended the spread that next week or shortly thereafter. That was the only midseason coaching change I remember Lloyd ever making so I am sure the decision did not come easy. Brady would have been on the staff with Jim in 2001 and 2002, I know he had to be following what was happening in 2003 to UM and his mentor that helped get him a HC job.

I don't know, just something crazy you think about when you have too much time on the plane and trying to make any sense out of this.


Michigan Football the Tom Cruise Way

Michigan Football the Tom Cruise Way

Submitted by EGD on September 23rd, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Yeah, so, I wrote this today:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Scene: a futuristic computer room, ringed with terminals and transparent screens.  A single, long-haired blogger dude stands in the midst, wearing an electric glove, wired with electrodes, and manipulating data.  Suddenly the man stops, and waits.  A small, coral-colored ball emerges from a tube in the ceiling, bearing a cryptic imprinted message:







Scene: an outdoor dining table behind a palatial country club.  A fifty-ish man in corporate chic [DAVE BRANDON] snaps a slice of Negihama roll from the hip of a nude prostitute, prompting a giggle. 

PROSTITUTE: Are you ready for me, Ralph?

DAVE BRANDON: Actually, you can just call me “Dave.”

The shadow of approaching guest [RICH RODRIGUEZ] darkens the foreground.

DAVE BRANDON: What now?  Rodriguez.  And what, may I ask, is it I can do for you today?

RICH RODRIGUEZ: Well as you know, our defense ain’t been ‘zacly what people expect.

DAVE BRANDON: You don’t say.  And this is my problem becauzzzz?  [exchanges glances with sushi-bearing prostitute]

RICH RODRIGUEZ: I’s just hopin’ maybe, if I could get a little bit-a more money--

DAVE BRANDON: More money?  MORE money?

RICH RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, well, see, there’s this guy I know, Jeff Casteel—

DAVE BRANDON: I see.  So you want ME to give YOU more money so you can hire “some guy you know.” [making air quotes]  Great plan, southern man.

RICH RODRIGUEZ: That’s basically the gist of it.  But we was top ten at West Virginia.

DAVE BRANDON: Okay.  But you gotta ask me nicely. [Prostitute smiles again.]


DAVE BRANDON: You gotta ask me nicely.  You come here, asking me for more money to spend on your spread offense and your ‘traditional’ white road uniforms.  You gotta ask me nicely.

RICH RODRIGUEZ: Alright then.  Pretty please, can I have money to hire Jeff Casteel?

DAVE BRANDON: Ha ha.  Let me give you a little advice, so you know.  In times of economic uncertainty, never, ever fuck with another man's livelihood. Go have fun, now? You know fun, time of your life?  And don’t ever come back here.  [Brandon and prostitute laugh diabolically}


Scene: a rural linebacker farm in the rolling Virginia hills, west of Baltimore.  The aging proprietor [GREG MATTISON] stares excitedly as the beak of a new hatchling pokes through its shell.  Above the incubator, a strip of masking tape says “Hybrid Space Player.”  Suddenly, the barn door swings open, to reveal a lone figure [BRADY HOKE]—corpulent, with bare arms in winter.

GREG MATTISON: No, no, no, no sir.  Can’t use him, don’t want him, couldn’t afford him if I did. 

The figure [BRADY HOKE] approaches.

GREG MATTISON: I heard all about you and Dave Brandon.  Me though, I’m retired, don’t want none of that.  But you’re welcome to come in, have a beer, and play some euchre.

Scene moves to dim living room.  A flickering old CRT televisions set murmurs in the background, children sleep among cookie crumbs and empty soda bottles.  Two men [GREG MATTISON and BRADY HOKE] slide the coffee table against a wall.

GREG MATTISON: You sure you want to do this?  I was All-American, remember?

 BRADY HOKE: [slurred] I’m taking you down this time, biy-atch.

The men begin wrestling.  Much furniture is smashed.  Camera pans around to capture championship trophies from the Florida Gators, Baltimore Ravens, Michigan Wolverines.  GREG MATTISON eventually gains the upper hand.

GREG MATTISON: You coach that team, Brady, and you’ll FAIL!  You’ll fail, god dammit!  Dave Brandon is no particular friend.  He’d put you in the wall today if he could get Harbaugh tomorrow.

BRADY HOKE: [Out of breath] But I need this, Greg.  I haven’t got anything else.


Scene: The Big House, Ann Arbor, Michigan--a roaring football stadium at night, fans waving yellow pom-poms and chanting along to piped-in techno music.  Down on the field, DEVIN GARDNER confidently steps into the Michigan huddle.  A voice [AL BORGES] crackles on his helmet mic.

AL BORGES: Maverick, this is Ghost Rider.  Take angels 10-left-three-zero.


Looks up at teammates

DEVIN GARDNER: Angels 10-left-three-zero. Jeremy, you got him?


DEVIN GARDNER: Okay—you hook’em.  Jehu will clean’em and fry’em.

TEAM: Readeee-Break!

Players line up in a shotgun formation.

DEVIN GARDNER: Contact, 20 left at 30!  Nine hundred!  Nine Hundred! Set, hut!

Players begin running, pads begin popping, Gardner throws a pass to Jeremy Gallon.  Gallon catches it, spins off two defenders, and scores.  Crowd goes absolutely wild.  Meanwhile, Jehu Chesson blocks three defenders into a pile, then stands over them.

JEHU CHESSON: “Watch the birdie!”

 Snaps a Polaroid.  Scene fades


Scene: Jubilant locker room.  Sweaty Michigan football players gather around Head Coach BRADY HOKE, clap and sing “The Victors.” 

BRADY HOKE: I’m really proud of the way this team practiced, this team executed.  Enjoy this one.  But we’ve still got ten more to play—

Hoke pauses momentarily, as a grinning DAVE BRANDON shuffles through the crowd

BRADY HOKE: So yeah, I want’chall enjoy this one, then we’ll be right back to work tomorrow morning.

A cheer goes up from the players, who begin turning away…

DAVE BRANDON: One more thing, well done, gentlemen.  You really kicked some ass tonight.

Slight sighs are heard from the annoyed players.

DAVE BRANDON: In this big game that we play, life, it's not what you hope for, it's not what you deserve, it's what you take.  I'm Dave muthaf*kin Brandon, a master of the muffin and author of the “Avoid the Noid” advertising campaign for Domino’s Pizza.  No I wasn’t an All-American when I played here for Bo Schembechler.  But I was able to become an All-American at business, because I learned one thing: Respect the cock! And tame the cunt! Tame it! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No!

You will not win this game! Because it's a game, guys. You want to think it's not, huh? You want to think it's not? Go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane. Respect the cock. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who's in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it's universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal. We... are... men!

Players stand in stunned silence. 


Scene: Michigan LSA student SAGAR LATHIA enters the Arcade Barbershop and takes a seat in an empty barber’s chair as the door creaks shut behind him. 

SAGAR LATHIA: How's it going, Luther?

LUTHER: Another day, another dollar, captain.

SAGAR LATHIA: You gotta play them as they lay.

LUTHER: What goes around comes around.

SAGAR LATHIA: Can't beat 'em, join 'em.

LUTHER: At least I got my health.

SAGAR LATHIA: Well, then you got everything... See you tomorrow, Luther.

LUTHER: Not if I see you first.

SAGAR LATHIA: Sometimes you gotta say, "what the fuck."  Make your move.  Luther, every now and then, saying "what the fuck?" brings freedom.  Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.


Scene: Big House for early game vs. Akron.  Quiet hum from crowd as Michigan offense breaks huddle.

DEVIN GARDNER: Red 90!  Red 90!  Hike!

Gardner receives shotgun snap, drops back to pass.  Pressure comes up middle.  Gardner retreats, spins, reverses field, and is blind-sided by an Akron player.  Gardner throws ball—but the wobbly duck lands right in the chest of an Akron player and is run into the end zone for a TD.  Gardner lies on turf, mystified.


Scene: luxury suite above Michigan Stadium.  DAVE BRANDON grabs telephone receiver and lifts to ear.

Scene: Michigan sideline.  A phone rings.  A team manager answers and bring the phone to BRADY HOKE.

BRADY HOKE: Consider yourself in Contempt!

GREG MATTISON: [standing beside BRADY HOKE] You don’t have to answer that question.

BRADY HOKE: I'll answer the question!  [Into phone] You want answers?!

Scene cuts back to Brandon’s luxury box

DAVE BRANDON: I think I’m entitled!

Back to sideline

BRADY HOKE: You want answers?

Back to Brandon’s luxury box

DAVE BRANDON: I want the truth!

Back to sideline

BRADY HOKE: You can’t handle the truth!


Scene: a classroom in Mason Hall on University of Michigan campus.  A female professor jots information on the white-board, then looks up.

PROFESSOR: Excuse me, Mr. Lathia, is there something wrong?

SAGAR LATHIA: Yes ma'am, the data on the coaching search is inaccurate.

PROFESSOR: How's that, Mr. Lathia?

SAGAR LATHIA: Well, I just happened to read Dave Brandon’s actual itinerary from “The Process,” and he never actually met with Miles.  Never offered Harbaugh the job.

PROFESSOR: Where did you see this?

SAGAR LATHIA: Got it from John U. Bacon.

PROFESSOR: From who? 

SAGAR LATHIA: John U. Bacon.  I would introduce you to him, but then Dave Brandon would have you fired.


Scene: Road game at Penn State.  White-out, fans yelling hostile obscenities.  Michigan trailing on the scoreboard.  Nervous-looking DEVIN GARDNER approaches the huddle.

DEVIN GARDNER: Twenty-one right Bogey on three.

JEREMY GALLON: What?  Again?  It hasn’t worked the first twenty-six times we’ve run it.

DEVIN GARDNER: It’s what the man said.  Twenty-one right Bogey on three.  Readee-break!

Michigan offense steps to line against Penn State defense, which has inserted extra defensive tackles.  The wall of defensive humanity nearly blocks out the lighting.

DEVIN GARDNER: Set…hut!  Hut!  Ready….hut!

[DEVIN GARDNER] takes snap, retreats into backfield, shoves ball into running back’s arms.  The back is promptly swallowed by several tacklers before reaching the line of scrimmage.  Dispirited Michigan players walk back to the huddle.

AL BORGES: Dang-it.  Okay, Maverick, let’s go Angels 10-left-three-zero.

DEVIN GARDNER: Roger that.

Gardner faces offensive teammates, gives play.  Unit lines up in shotgun formation.

DEVIN GARDNER: Red 90!  Red 90! Hut!

Slo-mo shot as shotgun snap approaches.  DEVIN GARDNER catches snap.  Heavy breaths and foot-falls.  DEVIN GARDNER retreats one step, camera pans to primary read.  JEREMY GALLON is open in seam.

DEVIN GARDNER: It’s no good.

Camera closes-in on [JEREMY GALLON]

JEREMY GALLON: God dammit Maverick!

Camera follows Gardner’s eyes as he moves to secondary read.  DEVIN FUNCHESS is open on sideline.

DEVIN GARDNER: It’s no good!


Penn State defenders arrive.  Gardner slammed to turf, ball comes out.  Penn State players rejoice as crowd erupts into frenzy.   A crumpled Gardner sits motionless on the field.


Scene: an austere, tropical barracks.  Banana rats scurry as hooded figures slip into a darkened room.  Inside, a rotund figure of a snoring man [AL BORGES] heaves upon the bunk.  Suddenly, the figures pull a blanket tight over the man’s chest; a pure grey bar of soap is shoved into his mouth, and the man is pummeled repeatedly with oversized macaroni noodles.

AL BORGES: Whaahhh—[choking sounds as soap enters mouth]

The beating continues for several seconds

HOODED FIGURE: Get an identity, fat man!

The figures rush out of the room as AL BORGES passes out.


Scene: anti-septic military-style interrogation room.  Young lawyer [SAGAR LATHIA] in dress uniform enters the room.  five hulking men, each wearing a jump-suit marked with a non-eligible number, immediately rise and salute. 

SAGAR LATHIA: [timidly] At ease?

The men sit.  SAGAR LATHIA sits at folding chair across the table.

SAGAR LATHIA: So, can we start with what happened?

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  What happened when, sir!?

SAGAR LATHIA: Well, I understand the five of you beat a guy with noodles—

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  It was a ‘miscommunication,’ sir!

SAGAR LATHIA: A miscommunication?

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  That’s what we call it.  A ‘miscommunication,’ sir!

SAGAR LATHIA: Well, I’m just trying to understand—

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  Must protect the brand, sir! 

SAGAR LATHIA: The brand?

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  Yes, sir!  Must protect the brand.  That’s our code, sir!

SAGAR LATHIA: Who put you up to this?


SAGAR LATHIA: You better tell me.  I’m the only friend you’ve got.

TAYLOR LEWAN: Sir!  I am on specific orders not to disclose that my commanding officer, Dave Brandon, instructed me to perform the miscommunication, sir!



Scene: DEVIN GARDNER meets with BRADY HOKE on an isolated path along the Huron River. 

BRADY HOKE: What I’m about to tell you is classified—could end my career.  I loved coaching that Denard, even if he wasn’t a pocket-passer.  You're a lot like he was.  Only better... and worse. He was a natural heroic son of a bitch that one.

DEVIN GARDNER: So he did do it right.

BRADY HOKE: Yeah, he did it right... Is that why you play the way you do? Trying to prove something? Yeah, Denard did it right.  We were in a rebuilding phase.  There were walk-ons and freshmen like fireflies all over the roster.  His ulnar nerve was hit, and he was wounded—he could have not dressed.  But he stayed in it, won three games before Nebraska got him.

DEVIN GARDNER: How come I never heard that before?

BRADY HOKE: Well, that's not something the Athletic Department tells fans when a player belongs in a spread offense, isn’t ‘Manball’ enough.

DEVIN GARDNER: So you get it?

BRADY HOKE: I get it. What's on your mind?

DEVIN GARDNER: My options, sir.

BRADY HOKE: Simple. You've already acquired an undergraduate degree.  You can soldier on in our pathetic offense, or you can quit. There'd be no disgrace. Last year’s offensive line was hell, it would've shook me up.

DEVIN GARDNER: So you think I should quit?

BRADY HOKE: I didn't say that. The simple fact is you feel responsible for Notre Dame and you have a confidence problem. Now I'm not gonna sit here and blow sunshine up your ass.  A good quarterback is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned. On the field there, we gotta push it. That's our job. It's your option, Devin. All yours.

DEVIN GARDNER: Sorry to bother you on a Sunday, sir, but thank you very much for your time.

BRADY HOKE: No problem. Good luck.

* * * * *

Scene: a ceiling panel slides open in a bright, institutional storage closet.  Motion-detecting lasers criss-cross the room at odd angles, and alarmed panels cover the floor.  A lone computer terminal sits unoccupied at a desk built into the wall.  Suddenly, SAGAR LATHIA drops from the ceiling.  He almost strikes the floor, but spreads-eagle inches above it.  SAGAR LATHIA moves through the air to the computer terminal, pulls up a screen that says “COCA-COLA TICKET PROMOTION,” and inserts a USB drive to download the data.  A lengthy status bar appears on the screen while the data is slowly copied.

Meanwhile, outside the room, DAVE BRANDON speaks with [ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER].

DAVE BRANDON: How many tickets have you sold today?

ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER: Fourteen hundred, sir. 

DAVE BRANDON: Very good.  How much is that?

ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER: Well, with the Coca-Cola promotion, that’s twenty-eight hundred dollars.  More importantly, we can keep our streak of 100,000 fans alive.

DAVE BRANDON: Whatever.  You know what I say?  If it ain’t broke, break it—that’s what I say.  So go ahead and break that streak.

ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER: Whatever you say, sir.  Don’t want to be fired like every other person I used to work with.

DAVE BRANDON: Yeah.  Hey, didn’t those skywriters give us a half-off coupon for our next purchase?  I think $2,800 ought to cover it.

ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER: I think the coupon is in the storage room, sir.

DAVE BRANDON: Well don’t just sit there.  Bring me skywriting coupon!

Camera returns to storage room.  SAGAR LATHIA finishes downloading marketing plan data and is pulled back through ceiling, just as ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT WORKER opens the door.


Scene: Ornate banquet room at Detroit’s Downtown Athletic Club, for annual Michigan Football Bust.  Team, dressed in suits, has finished its meal and is looking to podium.  Camera pans room to see several players carrying or wearing medical equipment, DEVIN GARDNER in full-body cast with oxygen tank.  BRADY HOKE exits podium to moderate applause, as DAVE BRANDON steps to podium.

DAVE BRANDON: And I just want to thank Brady for the wonderful job he’s done.  Really, really wonderful job.  But you know, 7-5 really is not Michigan Football.  I mean, let’s face it: you men are shit. What? Yes: you men... are... shit.  Horrible, heinous, *heinous*, terrible football players.  That’s you.  Fuck this bullshit.  What is it that we need?  We need Michigan Men!   You see what I'm getting at?  What’s your problem, anyway?  “Mommy wouldn't let me play soccer... and Daddy, he hit me, so that's who I am, that's why I do what I do?”   We will not apologize for who we are.  Michigan will not apologize for what it needs. I will not apologize for what I want!  And that’s why I’d like to introduce the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines—

Just then, SAGAR LATHIA and JOHN U. BACON rush into the room


DAVE BRANDON: What the hell is this?

JOHN U. BACON: Stop, this man [points to SAGAR LATHIA] has something to say.

DAVE BRANDON: I’m outta here.

GREG MATTISON: [rises from the back of the room]: You're not going anywhere, Brandon. DTs, guard the Athletic Director.

DAVE BRANDON: Am I being charged with a crime? Is that what this is? I'm being charged with a crime? This is funny. That's what this is.

SAGAR LATHIA: You brought in Special K and left the band at home.  You paid pilots to skywrite “Go Blue” over an empty Spartan Stadium.  You masterminded the general admission fiasco.  You undermined Rich Rod and botched the hire of Brady Hoke. 

DAVE BRANDON: Son, we live in a world that has college football, and college football has to be played by men wearing uniformz. Who's gonna do it? You? You, hockey boy? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.  You weep for our tradition, and you curse the rawk muzak. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the loss of Michigan tradition, while tragic, probably won games.  And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, wins games.  You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me in that luxury box, you need me on in that luxury box.  We use words like brand identity, brand equity, sub-brand, and brand loyalty.  We use these words as the backbone of a life spent marketing something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very revenue that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way.  Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a pom-pom, and wave it to piped-in techno. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

SAGAR LATHIA: Did you order the miscommunication?

DAVE BRANDON: You’re goddamn right I did!

Audible gasp arises from the team and boosters in attendance

DAVE BRANDON: I'm gonna rip the eyes out of your head and puke into your dead skull, you messed with the wrong AD!

BRADY HOKE: I think you’re in deep shit, Brandon, I guaran-damn-tee you.

DAVE BRANDON:  You have no idea how to run an athletic department.  All you did was weaken The Team today, Lathia. That's all you did. You put Rose Bowl berths in danger. Sweet dreams, son.

SAGAR LATHIA: Don't call me son. I'm a Michigan student, and an officer in the LS&A student government.  And you're fired, you son of a bitch.


Scene: Schembechler Hall.  Square-jawed John Harbaugh stands at a podium, beside an academic-looking man [BRAD BATES] in a muted blazer.  Cameras flash as BRAD BATES steps to the microphone bank.

BRAD BATES: I’d like to announce some exciting new changes for Michigan Football.  We thank Brady Hoke for his distinguished service as the head coach; he’ll be staying on with the athletic department as an advisor and assistant euchre and wrestling coach.  We’d like to welcome John Harbaugh, most recently of the Baltimore Ravens and the son of former Michigan assistant Jack Harbaugh, as our new head coach.  And we’d like to extend our congratulations to Devin Gardner, who has made a full recovery from his injuries and was drafted 199th overall by the New England Patriots.  Thank you, and Go Blue!

Hoke: starting QB to be named later this week

Hoke: starting QB to be named later this week

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on September 23rd, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Was supposed to be named today.

Could it be that the longer this is dragged out, it's more likely to be Morris?



Hoke on QB decision: "We'll probably end up later in the week. we want to make sure we're right."

— angelique (@chengelis) September 23, 2014

Hoke: "we feel good about both guys. other potential changes we'll get to later in the week"

— angelique (@chengelis) September 23, 2014

Dave Brandon and Me

Dave Brandon and Me

Submitted by dnak438 on September 23rd, 2014 at 11:14 AM

In another thread, I offered to post an e-mail exchange that I had with Dave Brandon about a year ago at the beginning of last season. I should probably explain that when it first happened I was too mad to think about posting it, and we were in the midst of a season, then prompty forgot about it during the off-season, when I should have posted it. But now Dave has pissed us off again, and with any luck we will be bidding him adieu soon, so it now seems relevant again.

So, to set the stage: it is the Friday before the 2013 season opener. Michigan had a big stupid Kraft noodle in Michigan stadium. The natives were restless, even MGoShoe. The noodle itself didn't upset me, but rather the slow creep of advertising into the stadium. So although I didn't think that my opinion meant all that much, I figured that I would let the Athletic Department know how I felt. I wasn't expecting a response at all, and I figured that if I did get a response, it would be some boilerplate like, "Dear X, thanks for your feedback and for your continued support of Michigan football! Go blue!" Instead I got snark.

I sent the same e-mail to Dave Brandon and to Brian Townsend:

Dear Mr. Brandon/Mr. Townsend,

As an alumnus and supporter of the University, I was upset to see in the Michigan Daily (http://www.michigandaily.com/blog/game/football/8-new-advertisement-blocks-big-house-view-29) that the Athletic Department is apparently planning to allow Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to advertise inside the grounds of Michigan Stadium.

One of the attractions and important traditions of the stadium experience, in my view, is the lack of advertising. Please do not allow this trend to continue. I would rather pay higher ticket prices than to be subjected to large orange plastic noodles and other such nonsense that significantly detract from my experience.
Many thanks in advance and Go Blue!
Yours sincerely,
[my name]
Associate Professor, [my department in the humanities, my university, which is in the AAU]

Dave's response (or perhaps someone in his office?):

[My first name],
I received your message and I am sorry you are "upset" over a noodle.
Clearly, this is a very troubling matter for you.
Perhaps the lesson here is for you to be careful not to believe everything you read. There was an event at the Stadium Friday and this promotional piece was included.  It was removed at the conclusion of the event.
I suggest you relax and enjoy the football game today!
Go Blue!!

My response:

Dear Mr. Brandon,

Thank you for your timely response. I am not upset about a noodle, however, but about the possibility of advertising in Michigan Stadium on game days now and in the future.
I suggest that you drop the condescending tone.
Go Blue!
Thanks for your very helpful input!!
Much appreciated!!

 Brian Townsend's response:

[My first name],
Thanks for your feedback. Your message was heard.  
We are looking forward to another exciting weekend in Michigan Stadium. Go Blue!

My response:
Dear Brian,

Thank you! I was at the Notre Dame game (UTL II) and it was magnificent. I was very impressed with all the work that the Athletics Department does to make the games so enjoyable and seemingly effortless. I know that they are not effortless, and I want to let you know how appreciative I am of all your hard work!
Go Blue!
Brian Townsend:

Thanks [my first name].  We appreciate your compliment!
Go Blue!

I was upset about Brandon's response. It made me feel more alienated from the University that I love, actually. But here's the thing: it's just really, really stupid of him. He can think one of two things:

  1. This guy is an idiot.
  2. This guy is a reasonable person with strongly-held feelings about the University.

If (1), then the best thing is not to reply at all or to send some canned response: "Thanks for your passion! Go blue!" If (2), then the same, or something conciliatory: "Thanks for letting us know you feel, the opinions of fans and alumni are important to us" blah blah blah. I would have been satisfied with that. The only other time I e-mailed the AD about an issue, I received a very conciliatory note saying something like, "Thanks, we are already talking about this internally and we appreciate your input."

What does Dave Brandon gain from picking a fight with an alumnus?

I also think that his response was disingenuous, however. The fact of the matter is that the Kraft noodle was in Michigan Stadium for a promotial event, sure. But that promotional event -- cleverly called "W.O.W. Friday" -- is actually all about football (here's the official description of it). So it's not any old promotional event, but actually one directly tied to the football team and program. And despite the promotional tie-in, they charged $10 a person for access to the stadium! It wasn't even free!

It sounds like other people have had similar experiences to mine, perhaps even worse ones? I'd be interested to hear what other people have to contribute.