This Week’s Obsession: Dave’s Burner Account

This Week’s Obsession: Dave’s Burner Account Comment Count

Seth May 30th, 2018 at 11:42 AM


hashtag ifitaintbrokebreakit [Eric Uphurch]

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: It’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. Have you checked out his podcast yet? He’s been bringing in interesting guests—Richard Hoeg was one, Brian’s bolded subconscious alter ego was another (actual Brian plans to do one soon). If your financial strategy is to bounce around liquidating failing companies, you don’t need Nick, but if you’ve built something that has value, and this has in turn gotten you some value, and you’ve got a lot of life yet to go, you should talk to Nick about a strategy for that.

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.



slackbot: quit drinking and go to bed

Ace: Slackbot knows this is a bad idea but we’re gonna power through it.

The Mathlete: This a probable mild bad decision, @probablemild

Seth: @thebrand1234567

Ace: @retailactivationerror

The Mathlete: @enoughlatenightdrinking

Alex: @campdavid6969

Ace: @everafter734

Alex: @vulturecapitaltoysrus

Seth: @tgiff And by the way we are docking the cost of those cardboard boxes from your last paycheck.

Ace: @findanewteam


Seth: @...

The Mathlete: @plentyofseatsonmyjet

Ace: @lochdogg

The Mathlete: @wowexperience

Seth: @section1.

Ace: lol, was waiting for that one.

Seth: Sorry, Section 1.

Ace: Should we maybe tell people why we’re doing this? This is why we’re doing this:

The Curious Case of Bryan Colangelo and the Secret Twitter Account

A collection of Twitter accounts that has criticized Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, disclosed sensitive information, and outlined team strategy shares eye-opening similarities. What does that have to do with the Philadelphia 76ers’ decision-maker?

I never thought I’d say anything like this but… at least Brandon knew better than to get on the bad side of his own players?

[After THE JUMP: we create the space.]


Unverified Voracity Has An Anniversary

Unverified Voracity Has An Anniversary Comment Count

Brian December 30th, 2015 at 1:07 PM

Happy anniversary. Today is one year out from Harbaugh.


Max Harbaugh. To commemorate the event, Harbaugh had a radio appearance on Stoney and Bill. He completed that radio appearance and then CALLED BACK IN to advocate having Wrestlemania at Michigan Stadium, where he could referee a match between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan:

“Why not the Big House?” he said. “Why not? 140,000 – I bet we could get in there for Wrestlemania. They’re trying to break the attendance record at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas. (There’s) a great Canadian presence in wrestling. Why not Michigan and the Big House?”

When a producer on the show suggested that Harbaugh participate as a referee in a Flair vs Hulk Hogan matchup, Harbaugh didn’t hesitate.

“I’m in,” he said.

The chances of that match are not great since Flair and Hogan are a combined billion years old and Hogan was dropped by WWE after tapes of him being racist-uncle-level racist were released as part of a lawsuit he's embroiled in. With Gawker, because of course.

But other than that, yeah, sure. Unfortunately it's too late for Michigan Stadium to get it this year, since last year it was in the 49ers' stadium and that symmetry would have been perfect. Screw you, Jed York! (Actually, thank you, Jed York. Thank you so much for all that you have done for Michigan athletics.)

Either way, AJ Williams is in.

And now let us reflect on the previous gentleman. The Washington Post has an article on ballooning costs for athletic department administrators. If that sounds like an article in which Dave Brandon features, you would be correct:

Last December, at a conference on the business of college sports, a panel discussion involving Michigan athletics executive Hunter Lochmann turned to the topic of paying players. Lochmann, according to media reports, expressed skepticism about whether players deserved any of the millions sponsors paid to have their logos seen during Michigan games.

“Those are fleeting, four-year relationships,” he said of the careers of Michigan athletes. “At Michigan, it’s the block ‘M’ that has the affinity and power globally, not [former Michigan quarterback] Denard Robinson.”

The response was interesting coming from Lochmann, a former longtime National Basketball Association marketing executive who himself had just a four-year relationship with college sports at that point. In 2014, Lochmann made $225,000 performing a job — chief marketing officer at Michigan athletics — that didn’t exist before 2010, when then-Michigan athletic director Brandon created the position, luring Lochmann from the New York Knicks.

Lochmann was not the only new face in Michigan athletics. Between 2004 and 2014, records show, the department added 77 new full-time positions, contributing to an administrative payroll surge from $14.7 million to $27.7 million.

That 89% increase considerably outpaces the national average of 69%—this is national trend that Brandon managed to beat out. The returns on those additional staff were nil, as by the end of Brandon's tenure the Big House was three-quarters full and the athletic department had suffered a never-ending series of PR gaffes culminating in the concussion fiasco. The article revisits Lochdogg a bit later:

Michigan’s front office has gotten a bit smaller since last year, however. A few weeks after Lochmann’s controversial comments about Michigan athletes — which sparked backlash from university alums, including some NFL players — the university announced that Lochmann had resigned to “pursue other opportunities.”

In the year since, Michigan athletics has not needed to fill the vacant chief marketing officer job.

Except insofar as Harbaugh fills that role.

Anyway. The article ably details the flood of money going somewhere. That is an increasing army of administrators and higher salaries for extant ones, because, and I quote this quote "We’re no different than any other corporation that wants its business to be successful.”

I can think of one way it is different.

Bobby Bowden and IU athletic director Fred Glass come off well, FWIW.

Florida things. Suspensions and early NFL draft announcements may indicate a Gators program that is not fully checked in at the moment. Four players have already announced they're out the door for the draft after the game. DE Alex McCalister was dismissed from the team a couple weeks ago. Three players, including a starting OT, have been suspended. That starting OT projects to be replaced by a true freshman, which would bring the number of first-year players starting along Florida's lines to four.

That's all good news for a Michigan team that ended the year with a bit of a thud.

Brian Cole mystery, resolved. If you follow the premium sites you've noticed a hard split on the first year of Brian Cole at Michigan. Cole disappeared from the field after a few games thanks to an injury and never returned. Rivals repeatedly asserted that he was deep in the doghouse and unlikely to ever emerge; Scout said he'd moved to safety and was doing well after an early Internal Matter. RJS helps clarify:

"B-Cole's at safety, he's been coming down and bringing a lot of havoc," senior linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone said Monday. "He's been good." …

"Everybody's getting some time to play, we've been doing a lot of scrimmaging with younger guys," Jenkins-Stone said. "Coach Harbaugh's putting people where he feels like they'll be best for the team.

"Coach Harbaugh feels like (Cole) can make that happen, and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to fill a void next year at safety."

0% chance Cole plays in the bowl game since he's got a medical redshirt coming, but good to hear that Michigan's top athlete from the 2015 class is not in the same boat Derrick Green is.

The boat Derrick Green is in. A fast one, going anywhere but Ann Arbor. Ty Isaac will stick around; multiple reports had him taking most of the first team reps before the OSU game.

A less dangerous Indiana. #CHAOSTEAM may be a bit less chaos-y next year thanks to departures. RB Jordan Howard and DT Darius Latham have declared for the draft. IU loses most of their OL and Nate Sudfeld. I find it hard to believe that Zander Diamont is going to replace Sudfeld's production. Kevin Wilson is pretty great at offense but all they have to do is take a half-step back and the chaos turns into something like the LSU-Texas Tech bowl game where it's close for a while and then whoops it's 42-20.

Etc.: Chris Wormley reiterates that he will return next year. At this point I think the only person we're waiting on is Willie Henry. IU guard James Blackmon has a knee injury of undisclosed severity. This is a good vine. Holy crap, Baylor. Three pointers are suddenly easy. Harbaugh Christmas.


Failure Follow-Up

Failure Follow-Up Comment Count

Brian February 19th, 2015 at 4:36 PM


a more pleasant item to lead the blog

When I write a thing of that length that I figure will stand as one of the things people think about when they think about MGoBlog, I like to talk about the aftermath.

WHY. A number of protests were lodged about why I wouldn't just leave the past in the past and move on. There are multiple reasons that post needed to happen.

  • I needed an elucidation of the argument I couldn't quite make when I was on with Dan Dakich in the aftermath of the email article. The way in which Brandon screwed up so hard with Morris was a natural result of the way he approached every petty problem he met previously, an indication that he was a terrible leader for reasons both private and public.
  • This is a space that tries to document what happens to Michigan. I got the same complaints about my Rich Rodriguez obit. We mostly look backwards here, talking about what has happened. Not having a summary of the Brandon era would have been a glaring omission. I do these for players annually, usually in the magazine. Hoke will get a (much less incendiary) recap as well.
  • Never forget. For this to not happen again we must identify the problem and remain vigilant against its recurrence. Those who forget history, etc.

Now that I've said my piece we can move on. Harbaugh excelsior.

WHY NOW. A variant on the previous bullet:

Brian's post has no new information or even new feelings or analysis of information he compiled.  It doesn't even have information or ideas new to his own previous posts on this blog.  Why did he do this?  I'm genuinely curious.  It's like a political post mortem in The New Republic or Investor's Business Daily against a vanquished foe, but an untimely one.  Has the piece been on his desktop for the last several months awaiting completion?  Was he waiting for additional DB shoes to drop that would need inclusion?  Was it an incredible stream-of-consciouness thing that just kinda poured out of him over a few very intense hours?  I don't know, but I'd like to.  Brian? 

I will say that it is very clearly grave dancing, but it's Baryshnikov or Shakira cutting the rug, or dirt or whatever (apologies to dance fans if these examples are crap, but you get the picture).

Brandon was canned during football season, when time for a 5k word piece was not available. Then we had the coaching search, which sucked up all available oxygen—I barely thought about this piece until Harbaugh was in the boat. After that was the recruiting sprint to Signing Day. All of these things took precedence; now that we're past all that it was time.

FWIW, the piece was assembled in bursts, with a slim majority of it coming together in the last couple days.

On calling someone a piece of shit human being. Some protests about that phrasing. This seems like different borders for a term. Complaints about it tended to invoke physical violence against innocents, ISIS, Boko Haram, assertions verging on Godwin and occasionally directly invoking it. I would file such things under "evil," "monstrous," etc. Being a shitty person doesn't rise to that level.

I did get a very long, well-argued email from a walk-on who had been around for a portion of the Brandon era asking me to separate out my critiques of the man from critiques of the athletic director. It cited a number of positive personal interactions with Brandon, and it's true that the one group of people universally in his corner are student-athletes. John U Bacon invited me to present a guest lecture to one of his classes this fall; as fate would have it that date landed about ten days after the Morris incident. Bacon's class was split about down the middle between athletes and regular students, and when I expressed my opinion about Brandon bluntly I got equally blunt pushback from a couple of the athletes.

I appreciate that point of view. I reject it all the same. Brandon was clearly not an asshole to all people. That does not excuse the careers he shattered for little or no reason or the condescension to people trying to talk to him politely. I still can't get over the guy taking shots at some emailer's marriage when he was being painfully polite whilst trying to explain why Brandon had caused him an issue by telling his wife to find a new team. It doesn't excuse the relentless strip-mining of Michigan's primary asset, fan goodwill, in order to make the spreadsheet numbers go in the right direction. It doesn't excuse the constant litany of untruths culminating in a five-day firestorm based on the fact that Brandon's first reaction to any crisis was to lie.

I believe his interactions with the student-athletes were genuine and positive. I don't judge people based on how they treat their most favored class of person. Nixon had a dog, after all.

On giving money to Mott. There's a parable about this.

On cancer kid. It's easy to be nice to kids with cancer, especially when you trumpet it from the mountain. It's standard practice to be open to Make-a-Wish; not doing so results in major backlash and Brandon's not a literal psychopath. When these arguments are made I always think of the Chris Rock bit about how you're not SUPPOSED to go to jail, you low-expectations-havin' mofo.

On the civility of the previous bullet point. Not very civil, I agree. I did weigh that, but I felt that pulling punches in any way here was 1) not going to be credible and 2) did a disservice to the lesson learned. I often write swears in first drafts that get edited out later, sometimes to my regret. There is something about the well-placed expletive that gets a point across in a way I cannot seem to replicate with less naughty language, and this was a full-auto post.

On the shittiness of those emails. From user Evenyoubrutus:

What convinced me of how clueless he really was was his email that said "I suggest you find a new team to support."  This was clear proof that he was still trying to sell pizzas instead of honoring the tradition of Michigan Football.  Yes, if you don't like Domino's, try Pizza Hut.  But I don't have over two decades of memories of sitting down at Domino's with my dad since I was a fucking CHILD eating the pizza, and memorobilia of Domino's items and memories in my house, and I don't dream of sharing the same experiences eating Domino's with my young boys, or memories of watching Domino's win championships and feeling some of the happiest moments of my life because Domino's! "Find a new team to support" Okay. Ass.

On things I missed. Inevitably there were going to be issues and problems with the Brandon era I missed, even in a post pushing 5k words. A selection:

  • BursleyHall82 reminds us that it was only a sustained campaign from MVictors that finally got Brandon to relent and allow Willis Ward to be honored and his story told.
  • I did not mention "The Process" via which Rodriguez was fired. That two-day dog and pony show was a quintessential example of doing something ostentatious to look impressive instead of just getting it over with quickly. Hackett fired Hoke and announced it in about 10 minutes, because he is not concerned with looking impressive. (Hackett occasionally dresses like Seinfeld's dad because he gets things done instead of picking out clothes.)
  • JeepinBen points out I didn't mention the press blitz after the Morris incident or the infamous "my personality is to the best of my ability and I have to fix that" statement. That was triply odious: Brandon hired a PR firm only after he'd burned the house down and then spent Michigan's money trying to prop himself up instead of repairing the damage he'd done. Add in the content of said blitz and you've got a triple. Oh, and he invoked his family as a shield. Home run.
  • I missed the giant Brandontron next to the stadium.
  • And of course whenever I bring it up more people add their stories to the list, including this gentleman who was dismayed because the athletic department tried to charge the hospital a licensing fee for sick babies in winged helmets.
  • There are many, many stories of people in the department being treated shabbily from Jon Falk on down. I didn't mention most of them because I hear most of them indirectly. Bacon's upcoming book on all this should shed a lot of light in this department; he reports that he has never seen people more eager to talk to him.

On revenues as a measuring stick. A common defense of Brandon is to point at the budget. I've repeatedly stated why I don't buy that argument but I've never stated it as eloquently as Blue Durham did in a comment on the post:

Increased revenues from sources like the Big Ten Channel can't be attributed to anything that he had done, and others, like Brian refers to, like the sale of water or the hoped-for rental of seat cushions(!), bring in little but have a great, negative impact in PR. So where is Brandon's biggest contribution in increasing revenues?

As far as I can tell, it was by increasing ticket prices. But all that did was to sell off an asset built up by preceding ADs, the waiting list and goodwill of fans, alumni, and students. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student at UM in the 1980's, everyone knew that the AD could have easily charged more for tickets.

But I think this was part of a policy to try to treat current students as future donors, and for the alumni, as a way to stay connected to the University in order to have more generous donors. Obviously this worked given all of the alumni events that occur every fall that revolve around a home football game.

All Brandon did was sell this asset off, to the University's detriment. This is akin to a kid selling is father's car and taking credit for all of the money he made doing it without taking into account the value of the car.

The damage he wrought in that department will be felt for years, or at least until HARBAUGH

On solutions. User Njia protests that the post was an unconstructive bombing. Guilty as charged. I'll put together something about the direction to go in an effort to rebuild ground zero.

The unedited post is available as an e-book for 50 bucks. To buy one, just go to this video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up."

And now let's never talk about… that again.



THE FAILURE Comment Count

Brian February 18th, 2015 at 2:31 PM

"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity"

-Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director, 2010-2014


[Eric Upchurch]

I'm pretty mad about Dave Brandon on the internet, but in real life social cues prevent you from ranting for two thousand words at a time; mostly they argue for nodding silence. I kept the wild-eyed revolutionary on the internet. So it was crazy how Brandon angst followed me around.

One day during my ACL rehab, I was doing my various stretching things when one of the therapists came in steamed. He started relating to one of his buddies that he'd been booted from his position with Michigan football in favor of a kid who had literally just graduated from college, because that kid would worship Brandon as a god.

When we bought our house, one of the seemingly infinite signing ceremony things involved a conversation with someone who had been an assistant with a nonrevenue sport. My job came up, she had never heard of MGoBlog, she proceeded to sigh and say that the department was really something and then… not that any more.

A woman who Brandon tried to get fired from the alumni association because she had the temerity to disagree with him. Her friendship with Jamie Morris was demonstration enough that she "had no character."

One day, two staffers sent home for insufficiently ironed khakis, and then berated because their blazers were "from JC Penney."

Report after report that the regents couldn't stand him and he had a year, tops, left. For three years.

And of course, email after email in my inbox, all from the same insulting man prone to exclamation points and misused ellipses.


As a kid I was really good at memorizing things and had no friends. A large part of why, I would find out in retrospect, is that I was an annoying person. I was convinced I was the smartest person in the room, something that was often true for a given definition of smartest that stopped once the tests were turned in. It was never true when it came to interacting with something other than a piece of paper.

My attempt to be an adult centers around that fact: I'm an idiot when it comes to a lot of things. Faltering progress has been made. I hired Tom VanHaaren back in the day when he was just a guy with an idea to use social media to get information about recruits (this was controversial at the time). Tom proceeded to get his own bat signal. To this day he gets requests from people on the internet to hold him.

Tom's prose was rough at the time, prone to sentence after sentence with the same structure. A lot of adverbs. (I measure my progress as a writer by how many adverbs I edit out of my own stuff.) Twelve year old me would have been too annoying about it to deal. But by the time I made that decision I had realized that there were a lot of skills. zTalking to people you don't know and making them come out of that experience feeling like something good had just happened was emphatically not one I possessed. Tom is now at ESPN because of that skill.

Everyone has peaks and valleys in their intelligences, which is why I can do this for a job and still get pwned by Tom Dienhart whenever I try to act like an Actual Journalist.

That is how a guy can be in charge of three different things and still be an idiot: Dave Brandon's skill is for creating personal leverage for Dave Brandon. And there end the skills. There is that sub-genre of successful person that achieves seemingly without any reason to. They are nature's bullshitters. Charlie Weis is their treasurer. Dave Brandon is their king.

[After THE JUMP: a sordid history and the lessons learned: none]


Let's Cool It On The Outdoor Hockey

Let's Cool It On The Outdoor Hockey Comment Count

Brian February 10th, 2015 at 11:18 AM


all these people would have fit in Yost [Patrick Barron]

After a near-fiasco with the ice at Soldier Field that caused Michigan and Michigan State to drop the puck at 9:40 PM Eastern, scattered pockets of people and eighty thousand empty seats took in an ugly hockey game marred by ice closer to a dirt road than a smooth sheet.

And with that Michigan's participation in outdoor college hockey should be over, with a single exception.

Yeah, there's no much you can do if your opponent decides to move one of their home games, as Ohio State did a couple years back for a slightly better-attended outing in Cleveland's baseball stadium. There's no much you can do if the GLI is outside in conjunction with the Winter Classic. But Michigan can look at this fiasco of an event and choose to never do it again.

The lone exception should be occasional reprises of The Cold War and Big Chill*. Both were great events featuring packed houses, and will be again if they are sufficiently rare. What's sufficiently rare? I'd say one game at Spartan Stadium or Michigan Stadium every four years. You can tell each recruiting class that if you stay for four years you will play a packed outdoor game, and you are doing it rarely enough that the "packed" part of that proposition is likely to remain true.

Other than that, let's drop it. Outdoor hockey is

  • COLD. Obviously.
  • BAD HOCKEY. Strange lighting and bad ice make these games hard to watch. Pucks bounce over sticks. Skill's importance is muted in favor of luck.
  • LITERALLY HARD TO WATCH. You're far away and the sightlines make no sense. (Any modern NHL building goes up as vertically as possible; most football stadiums are much less steeply pitched.)

Those are not fixable. Taking two teams from Michigan and having them play in Illinois is, but I'm just over it. I would rather watch an outdoor game on TV these days because the environment is the definition of antiseptic and I'll have a much better grasp on what's going on if I don't have to squint from a half-mile away.

I mean, it was cool. It will remain cool if it's rare enough. Remember when the television people were trying to expand the NCAA tournament to 128 teams because they're willing to wreck anything if they can point to a bigger number in the spreadsheet they're responsible for? College hockey is in the process of doing this to outdoor games. Outdoor games should be magnificent events. These days they're too often ghost towns full of monuments to hubris instead of people.

Meanwhile, even the watered-down modern-day Yost is one of the best environments college sports has to offer. Taking a game out of there to play in front of approximately as many people outdoors is the definition of madness. We can be done with that; we fired that guy.

*[they should drop the Big Chill nomenclature and just go with Cold War [roman numeral], in my opinion]


Unverified Voracity Requires Purchase Of Coke

Unverified Voracity Requires Purchase Of Coke Comment Count

Brian September 24th, 2014 at 12:06 PM

COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:

Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.

What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.

As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.

The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.

I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.

Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:

Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?



/hail of gunfire

And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:

I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?

Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:

"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …

"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.

Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.

While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):

"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."

IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.

More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:

…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while.  Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015.  With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.

This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.

The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.

If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.

It does.

And they're pretty pissed about it.

Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.

This is just not realistic:

"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."

It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.

That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.

We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:

Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:

On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.

Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.

He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.

Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:

Record West Winner East Winner
4-4 23.2% 0.0%
5-3 14.3% 47.5%
6-2 13.8% 12.3%
7-1 11.0% 7.9%
8-0 37.7% 32.4%

There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.

As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.

The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:

"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.

"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."

Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.

Etc.: Hinton on Gardner. Hoke isn't going to name a QB starter after all.


No Second MSU Game At Yost This Year

No Second MSU Game At Yost This Year Comment Count

Brian August 12th, 2014 at 11:54 AM

We found out why the first Michigan State hockey series was "TBA" yesterday, when it was announced that the two teams would play an outdoor game in Chicago. There are about 50,000 reasons that's a questionable decision—as in the number of people who won't be at this who would if it was on either campus.

Michigan is due to get two home games against State this year, Michigan and MSU have a contract to play at the Joe annually, and the other MSU game is still ominously "TBA":


I just called the ticket office, and they said they were told that the January 30th game is at the Joe.

I, like a lot of season ticket holders, have already renewed my season tickets, and now I am informed that a game against Michigan's biggest rival is going to be in Chicago. This is how you lose people forever, Dave Brandon. But I'm sure the one-time benefit from playing in Chicago is more important than not making your season ticket holders feel like saps. Clueless. This athletic department is clueless.


Looks Like Uniformz For Penn State

Looks Like Uniformz For Penn State Comment Count

Brian August 8th, 2014 at 1:46 PM

As caught by an alert Joshua Henschke on twitter, the latest MDen catalog strongly implies that Michigan will wear alternate uniforms for the Penn State game:


I'm not surprised, I guess. I had just forgotten about the possibility of such a thing and was disappointed to remember we do this now.

I'm sure this will be sold as a throwback to some fictional time in the past when Michigan wore stripey numbers under coach Pterodactyl The Second and won the Big Ten thanks to their velociraptor riders, because Authenticity™.

UPDATE: actually looks like an MGoUser was first to wonder.




Brian July 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM

FIRE EVERYONE! Naw man this ain't relevant to your interests. I but I mean cumong man.


Cumong woman, I guess. Either way, y'all shouldn't have laid off the common sense editor a couple years back. "Picks Barbour" instead of "Selects Woman" would have fit and passed the "will people be irate on twitter about this?" test.

I WILL LAY A PATH OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE LAND. CBS Sports scouts Michigan's upcoming team for the next NFL draft, starting with one Devin Funchess:

He has excellent initial burst off the line to get vertical in a hurry with long, full strides, flashing flexible and easy movement skills rare for a player his size. Funchess tracks well with smooth body control to make natural adjustments on the ball, but has WAY too many drops on his resume and needs to improve his reliability and finishing ability through the catch point. The effort is there for him as a blocker, but his technique needs work as he's often caught off guard with his blocking assignments. Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas.

I'm not entirely sure the effort is there as a blocker after watching him opposite Jeremy Gallon, but he should be at least adequate as a wide option. The drops were a bit unfortunate but he's not in the Braylon category, at least not yet, and his ability to reach up and pluck things out of the air with one hand gives him a circus catch upside that few players have.

Also featured are Ryan ("possible top-50 draft pick"), Clark ("One of the more underrated pass rushers for the 2015 class"), Gardner("upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance," thanks Mr. Borges and your hatred of QB coaches), and various others. Special nod to Raymon Taylor for being average at everything:

His size, speed and strength are all considered average, but he has the competitive mentality and awareness needed for the position.

The center of the bell curve, that Raymon Taylor.

OKAY YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION. Patrick Beilein is doing something his old man never did: becoming an assistant coach.

Patrick Beilein is leaving West Virginia Wesleyan to take a job on coach Quin Snyder's staff with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

That is a 29-year-old NBA assistant coach whose dad is John Beilein, just kinda hanging out. At this point it would be an upset if LaVall Jordan didn't get the job when it is time for Beilein to hang it up, but things change and it's nice to have attractive options.

Meanwhile: wait, Quin Snyder is now an NBA coach? Specifically Trey Burke's NBA coach? When do I get a job?

WELL THAT SEEMS REASONABLE. THIS PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE ALL CAPS. Michigan picked third the East in a poll of 29 media voters that somehow came up with 33 first place votes:

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State, 195 points (23 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 180 points (10)
3. Michigan, 136 points
4. Penn State, 105.5 points
5. Maryland, 84 points
6. Indiana, 78.5 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points

That is zero votes that have anything other than Rutgers dead last.

I AM TERRIBLY OLD AND HAVE CHOSEN POORLY. Defensman Kenny Johnson, who I remember wandering around Yost as, like, a zero-year-old, has committed to Michigan. Kenny is of course Jack Johnson's little brother. 

“It wasn’t very hard to make a choice, I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a little kid,” the ’98 birth-year defenseman said. “I went to every game of my brother’s, I was always running around the rink. I guess the hardest part was making the call and going to do it because I couldn’t believe it was real.”

I in fact remember a nine-or-ten year old Kenny wearing a "JMFJ" shirt at the Joe during Jack's sophomore year. I hoped he had no idea why he was wearing that shirt. Now he's KMFJ, which is an amazing abbreviation right there.

Kenny isn't the incredible prospect his brother was—he's more of a stay-at-home guy—but he's no slouch.

While we're talking about hockey recruiting, further evidence that recent commit Mike Pastujov is currently a big deal comes from the recent U15 select camp at which he was named the best forward:

1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.

When you're so far away from matriculating these evaluations are shaky, but there's no better place to start than from the top.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A TRIP TO BIG RAPIDS. Hockey's released their schedule and it is bizarre. They go to Ferris State to open the season—like before the Canadian exhibition game—and then they have a brutal nonconference road schedule after that test: Lowell, BU, BC, two against Tech. They do get UNH at Yost for what should be an entertaining series.

Unfortunately they again do that bit where they have a ton of home games during the meat of the football schedule and then a massive gap when people really want to go to hockey games. Michigan will go 41 days between home games after a home series against Minnesota on January 10th. The TBA MSU games will be at Munn and the Joe, so the next time you'll have a ticket at Yost is February 21st.

Meanwhile four straight weeks from Friday November 14th to December 5th feature Michigan hockey, and that's after another month-long break, one that features a bye week November 6th and 7th. The planning is not so good. This is the second straight year the second half of the home schedule has been really sparse.

The other thing of note is that there's a bunch of games with "possible" next to them as the Big Ten moves towards Sunday games in an effort to get more of them on the BTN. Hopefully they get that settled before tickets are issued. Moving a game time is one thing; moving entire days is not reasonable.

ENGULFED BY BLACKNESS. A sixth grade girl was at Michigan's football camp, which I guess is cute.

The Detroit News:

Ann Arbor hasn’t seen a burst of speed like this since Denard Robinson wore the Maize and Blue

Ha ha! That's not true.

[reminds self of last year's running game]

Blackness is everything.

[exits slowly]

[fades to nothing made of sadness]

[Death Cab For Cutie writes song about this experience]


ENTER THE LUMBERG. Man Dave Brandon I really don't want to talk about you constantly but then you're just like

Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy.

and I'm just like why don't you speak English like a human does and then you're just like

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance.

and I'm just like oh that's because you ceased being a part of our species some time ago and you're now homo executivus. Which is fine and all that but I'm just saying that I would go watch RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE EXECUTIVES in a hot second.

"War or war-related activities integral to our aspirational vision… has or have, depending on which antecedent you prefer in the previous phrase, and by "has or have" I mean 'is occurring in a timeframe consistent with that commonly referred to as "now"'… been initiated after consulting with a diverse array of focus groups, consultants, and best-in-class operational specialists including but not limited to—"

/executive shot in face

That's Oscar stuff right there. Hollywood, get on it.

I mean.

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work"

I'M ON THE COMMITTEE FORMING COMMITTEE. Instead of just working with the student government, which did great work surveying students and getting the athletic department to change their seating policy to something they would actually enjoy—#MikeProppeforAD—the athletic department is assembling a student advisory committee. We'll see how that works out; I am skeptical it'll be anything nearly as useful as what the unconnected student government managed last year.

Michigan is also confident they'll get past the 100k attendance number, because they just make those up anyway.

"(Some numbers may) potentially be lower than normal in the past, sure," Lochmann said. "I know there's a lot of eyeballs talking about the 100,000 -- we're not going to go below 100,000."

There could be no one in the stadium except the teams and they would announce 102,309. Ask anyone who was at the '95 Purdue doom-weather game if there were 100k in attendance.

Etc.: Stephen A Smith is just in charge of saying things for no reason. Ray Rice's suspension is ridiculous. Terrell Pryor got five games for tatgate! Rice got two for knocking his wife unconscious. Okay.

In lighter news, Detnews really excited about Alex Cook's tweetin'. Bacon on fireworks fireworks. It's probably not a coincidence that right after fireworks fireworks, Brandon gave an interview to Wojo.

ATTENTION TENNESSEE BIGS: stay away from Rome.


Unverified Voracity Has Pipes

Unverified Voracity Has Pipes Comment Count

Brian July 22nd, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Caris smash. Caris LeVert came to Michigan after a high school career spent as a mizzenmast. I'm saying he's thin, people. That's the joke. Or at least he was thin. This year's edition of Michigan basketball player is all swole now:


Yes yes, Irvin and Walton are also adding weight (Irvin's up to 215 from 200) but I be like dang Caris. Let's check in with his senior year of high school…


…during which he probably ripped off and reattached his arms nightly. Caris is also a legit 6'7" in shoes, so he is tall and large and is hopefully poised to rip it up this fall. 

Freshman dimensions. Basketball has posted a roster. It lists:

  • Kam Chatman at 6'7", 210
  • DJ Wilson at 6'9", 210
  • Ricky Doyle at 6'10", 250
  • Aubery Dawkins at 6'6", 190
  • and MAAR at 6'4", 200.

Doyle's weight is a positive. Michigan's going to need him to bang, and he's now the heaviest guy available—Donnal added ten pounds but only got to 240. Meanwhile, uncertainty about Max Bielfeldt's status for next year is all but gone: they've ceased listing him as a redshirt junior and now have him as a senior.

Fireworks nyet. I'll have a column type thing about this tomorrow, but to recap the most important completely trivial news of the week: the Michigan regents shot down the athletic departments proposed fireworks for the Miami (NTM) and Penn State games despite separating the votes. Mark Bernstein's criticism was the most pointed:

“We are not Comerica Park, Disney World or a circus ... ” Bernstein said. “I love Michigan football for what it is ... and for what it is not. It remains and should be an experience, a place that resists the excesses of our culture; intentionally simple.

“The fireworks should be on the field, not above it.”

I probably wouldn't have gone with "resists the excesses of our culture" but the overall sentiment is one I can get behind. Mostly I just want Michigan to be like itself, to maintain a separation from other options. Not because those are necessarily worse*, but because a bright line between Them and Us is inherently valuable when you're trying to gin up some fake-ass tribalism.

This is the most fundamental divide between myself and Dave Brandon: he wants to copy the Best In Class Leaders because that's the only thing he's ever been able to do. He could no more start a business than I could be athletic director, because every attempt would be Chipotle 2 or Also Applebees or Pretty Much Still Ponderosa. His one strategy for success is to do the thing that everyone else is doing.

Anyway. The new president is being carefully neutral about the whole situation

“Personally, I didn’t have an opinion,” Dr. Mark Schlissel, who started his job this week, said Friday during a press conference with the media. “Having never attended a game there, I didn’t have a sense of the cultural aspects of it. The band marching out, I’ve never seen. I’ve never seen them at a halftime show. I don’t have context to really say whether fireworks matter or not. I didn’t really feel like I had a valid opinion.”

…but the message sent by the regents is clear. This is an organization that has just been sued because they decide things in private meetings and show up to vote things in unanimously. During the 116 votes previous to the fireworks there were eight instances of a regent voting no. Brandon just exceeded that in a single day.

The opportunity here was to provide a vote of no confidence without shooting something down that's actually important, like the budget. I mentioned that I thought a number of people towards the top were discontent but unlikely to do anything about it in the most recent mailbag; I must have underestimated the disdain.

Is this the beginning of the end? I'm not getting my hopes up just yet.

*[They are of course sometimes worse.]

Back on the market. Onetime Michigan target and temporary SMU commit Matt McQuaid, a shooting guard out of Texas, has reopened his recruitment.

For a second there it looked like McQuaid was very serious about Michigan, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the two parties reconnect. Everyone seems like a backup plan for Jalen Coleman at the moment, but if Coleman does do the weird thing and pick a Notre Dame program that hasn't really gotten off the ground under Mike Brey, Michigan wants to make sure they've got options. McQuaid is a pretty good one:

McQuaid is arguably the best shooter in the class of 2015 -- and he strengthened his case last week at the LeBron James Skills Academy, when he shot lights-out from 3-point range against the best high school players in the country. There were at least two games in Las Vegas where I didn't see McQuaid miss an outside shot. He can make shots from deep and is also capable of knocking down contested shots.

He's 6'5", so visions of Stauskas are dancing in various heads right now.

Old stuff. Wolverine Historian takes on 1986 Iowa:

Straight shooter. I may disagree with a lot of what Bob Bowlsby thinks but I can appreciate that he's not Bill Hancock:

"Enforcement is broken," he said. "The infractions committee hasn't had [an FBS] hearing in almost a year, and I think it's not an understatement to say cheating pays presently. If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions."

He probably thinks it's possible to fix that, and that's where we differ. I do wish someone in attendance at Big 12 media days had heard this…

"It is hard to justify paying student-athletes in football and men's basketball and not recognizing the significant effort that swimmers and wrestlers and lacrosse players and track athletes all put in," he said. "Football and basketball players don't work any harder than anybody else; they just happen to have the blessing of an adoring public who is willing to pay for the tickets and willing to buy the products on television that come with the high visibility."

…and asked Bowlsby how much harder he was working than the assembled press corps.

Etc.: Scouting Tyus Battle, Jalen Coleman, and Prince Ali at the Peach Jam. The Game will not be at night, because frostbite. CJ Lee looks back at his time at Michigan after taking an assistant spot at Marist. A preview of the band programs this year. I'm not enthralled with the idea of trying the sing-along thing again. Peppers and Funchess feature amongst the most watchable players this year.

I like lists of sports memories that include bad stuff, because bad stuff happens. So props to the Daily Gopher for including Mike Legg (and Holy Cross) on their list of Gopher hockey moments.