Fickle Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2013 at 12:51 PM


It is a media tradition to hammer at flailing coaches with frowny-face serious questions about how hard everything is on the players and coaches and such because they have to put up with this howling pack of fans. And I try not to get exercised about anything that comes out of that, just like I try to roll my eyes and move on at every article about a triumph in the face of The Critics. Coaches arrive at press conferences at one goal: to get out without saying something notable. When they do say something notable, it is a mistake.

But I'm pissed off anyway. Hoke fielded a question about what is going to be a sea of red in Michigan Stadium:

"You know, people are fickle," Hoke said. "That's just the way it is. That's the world we live in."

This is of course horseshit. It's horseshit on the level of "we need to run a pro-style offense so we can stop Big Ten offense," i.e., the greatest and grandest horseshit in all the world. Hercules is required to shovel this. The big reveal from the last 20 years of media development is that fans are the only people left who aren't fickle. They can't stop watching, and what's more they can't stop watching live with all those lovely commercials interspersed. Fans submit themselves until they have commercials memorized. Until they are legendary.


In all other areas of television consumption I go out of my way to avoid commercials, going so far as to not watch recent seasons of shows I like until they arrive on Netflix. It will be four years before I see the Patton Oswalt filibuster in context. This is why every time a rights deal expires, networks treat the newly single package of games like it's the last cabbage patch doll on Black Friday.

Meanwhile, the people in charge have decided to test the edges of that fandom with an explosion in ticket prices. Paul Campos:

Here’s the price of a regular admission (not student) University of Michigan football ticket over time.

(All figures are in 2012 dollars, rounded to the nearest dollar. I couldn’t find 1970 and 1980 so I substituted the nearest available year).

1900: $27
1910: $48
1920: $29
1930: $41
1940: $45
1950: $34
1960: $35
1969: $38
1981: $30
1990: $35
2000: $47

This year a seat on the 15 yard line is 129 dollars with the PSL, almost three times as much as it was in 2000 and almost four times as much as it was in 1990, in constant 2012 dollars.



Ryan Field was half Michigan fans, for some reason [Bryan Fuller]

In Michigan's specific case, they have beaten Ohio State once in the last nine years and are two-touchdown home underdogs. They are getting gouged on ticket prices in an unprecedented fashion. The athletic department has made it absolutely clear that it has no loyalty to them with "dynamic pricing" that only goes one way. Up.

There is a breaking point for even the most zealous fan. I'm the guy with the blog that's his career and I'm at mine. The only reason I am going on Saturday is because I would feel shame at not going. Absent the weird moral imperatives of fandom, I would be doing anything else. Like bowling, which I hate.

Everybody in blue in that stadium—and it will still be a majority, probably—is paying for the privilege of having their heart punched. Unlike you, they are not getting three million dollars to watch Michigan shuffle around like a syphilitic pig who thinks everything's a truffle. Collectively they are in fact giving you those three million dollars. Collectively they built the stadium you play in and the opulent locker rooms you dress in.

So take your "fickle" and shove it. Angry, sure. Impatient, sure. Because we are locked into this thing we do every week that we pretty much hate. We do so out of a sense of loyalty that the program goddamn well doesn't reciprocate with its 500 dollar waiting lists and worst access level in the country—the team that is going to stuff you in a locker on Saturday has open practices in front of the entire student section—and scheduling goddamned Appalachian State because the athletic director thinks it's cute. Any reasonable person would look at the recent history of Michigan football and go do anything else. We're here because we're locked in.

You? You've got a buyout.

It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.

I'll hate them all the same, but half out of envy this time. They are no longer mindless wallets. They don't give a crap if Brady Hoke calls them fickle, and don't write articles on the internet about it. They are logical people.

The reason Michigan Stadium is going to be half-red on Saturday isn't because of "the world we live in" except insofar as it contains a Michigan football team that people at Abu Ghraib wouldn't show prisoners.



November 26th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

i may purchase a 5 year lease on an sporty convertible.  but after driving it for a year, i may think that it gets a bit too cold for it in the winter or i don't like the wind noise or lack of leg room.  so, i sell the remaining 4 years of the lease because the quality isn't what i thought it would be.  does that make me fickle?  should i just suck it up and wait for the lease to expire.  i don't think so.  just disappointed in the product that i had to purchase up front.  fickle would mean changing loyalties/cars for no apparent reason.  the product on the field provides a reason.

i will be at the game.  and there are different levels of fans:  from blindly loyal (like me) to those will pay if the product is good.  this product is not good.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Explain why fickle is bad if the fans are treated as just a revenue stream? This is a transaction to Dave Brandon, nothing more. Walmart doesn't bitch about fickle customers if people buy their TVs from Amazon, they try to change what they do to sell more TVs.

Don't expect religious loyalty in a capitalist exchange. If you don't want fickle, treat as as more than wallets with meatbags attached.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Maybe you know of some magical way to get season tickets for Michigan football without buying them in advance, but I don't.  Yet, absent the offense's cratering performance this year, that's the only way most folks could have expected to attend the OSU game, unless they were prepared to spend hundreds of dollars per ticket.  And I don't want to tax your brain with complex economic concepts, but even if someone's selling an OSU ticket for less than face value, that's still 60 or so bucks they can put in their pocket in exchange for "missing" their team possibly get obliterated by their rival. 

Mind you, I'm a season ticket holder who will be there on Saturday, but I can certainly understand the frustration that will lead many others to choose otherwise, and I would hardly call that a "fickle" response to a team that hasn't met the "expected standards."  How ridiculously presumptuous that those fans should have expected that the offense would perform at something more than a record low, leading the nation in TFLs and reducing a quality QB to a smoking rubble . . . .


November 26th, 2013 at 3:14 PM ^

The personal attacks would probably get you sent packing....

Seriously, is there ANYTHING you've ever disagreeed with Brian about? It's almost like you're a proxy account for him so he can be rude and act like he doesn't care what's said on the board.

And a even more simple economic concept- you've already calculated the cost and spent the money so you don't need the $60 back.  So you're not making the deicision based on finances at all. By your reasoning almost all the teams in American should play to empty stadiums, because they're not winning enough. But that's not what being a fan really means. 

If $60 means more to someone than supporting the players on senior day vs. their biggest rival, it either means you made some really bad financial decisions (or had a drastic life change that no one would blame them for), or yeah, you're fickle. If it's that horrible why are you going to be there? Not for product quality or the inability to recoup a little money. It must be something else...and that something else separates you from the fans who are being called fickle.


November 26th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

Or make it to the "Tax your brain" line?

We get it, you don't like me and what I've said. But don't be disingenuous about it. And I'm not sure I get the disconnect between "new rules saying they'd be draconian about personal attacks" and "and banning those who don't agree with the site."  If you think pointing out times I think the site is wrong is personal attacks, you have a strange definition of what is and isn't.


November 27th, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

Or for the most part there are a lot of interesting people that know how to have fun. Or at least there used to be. A number have left/been banned/avoiding the place. And certain people from the worst time of the blog came back out of the woodwork. So we're reliving the end of 2010 all over again. Once it seemed like people who care about the same thing sharing their hurt, not always in productive ways. But once was enough. I've discovered losing games always makes me feel bad. Wallowing in the cesspool this place becomes after a loss just prolongs it and makes one feel worse.  I don't think people are really getting any catharsis out of it anymore. Just pushing more misery on each other.

The place also has sometimes educational, sometimes interesting value. But right now, is there ANY of that? Look at the full board post on the sidebar right now. Is there anything in there that is worthwhile, even in a silly way? Even the trying their best to be positive posts come off as treacly. And it's leaked into the front page with posts like this rather than the game analysis. It can, has been, and should be both....but it's swung a lot in one way. And that's from someone who doesn't think the UFR is a bible and falls asleep at Mathlete's information. But damn, this place, right now, is nothing but making each other feel worse. Which might be understandable. But not something I'm going to dive into as much anymore, and certainly not what I have come to enjoy about the blog. 

And I know you're not saying anything contrary to me or anything. It just seemed like a good place to post it.


November 26th, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

agreeing with Brian and disagreeing with you.  I'd say I reside comfortably in the middle-to-latter portion of that spectrum.  I can see how it might be hard for you to determine how often I might disagree with Brian, because I don't find it necessary to express my opinion on every single one of Brian's posts.

Meanwhile, it must be nice to be in the financial position where a recovery of $60 or so (per ticket) of previously sunk costs -- not to mention saving the additional game-day costs of attendance -- could never be worthwhile, no matter what sort of experience you anticipate for a particular game.  Frankly, if I can get five bucks for next year's Appy State ticket, I'll gladly take it and "miss out" on that experience.  But once we've gotten to the point where we're just arguing about the magic cut-off dollar amount and anticipated experience level at which a "non-fickle" fan could justify selling his ticket to a given game, I think we've established that it's invalid for Hoke to assume that the no-shows this weekend are "fickle."

Space Coyote

November 26th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Fans and people in general are extremely fickle. "Marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability: given to erratic changeableness". Someone that claims fans aren't fickle has not read this blog's comment section, and certainly hasn't read the comment section on other blogs.

Brian is arguing people not being financial fickle. I think you could argue that they are. Now is that for self-preservation, because of logic, because of the product on the field? Certainly that's a big part of it. If this team was doing great I don't think you'd see a sea of red on Saturday. So maybe they have reason to be financially fickle, but they're certainly fickle.

But what about the rest of it? What about the fans that said RR wouldn't work because he ran the spread? Fickle. What about those that got off the bandwagon after 3-9? Fickle. What about those that bailed after 5-7? Fickle. What about those that took every opportunity to slander him because he talked funny and wasn't a Michigan man and did so at the detriment of the program? Fickle.

Now we have Hoke, who people are against, then he gives his first presser and he "gets it." People suddenly love him. Fickle. He says all the right things, brings in recruits, "we're going to be so good!" Fickle. Says same things, still brings in recruits, people twist it and make it into things it's not and tell recruits they are making a mistake for picking this school. Fickle. If Michigan was winning I'd likely write more for my blog that I write for no pay, and for the other blogs that I write for more pay. I'm fickle. Brian would likely UFR OSU and bowl games, he wouldn't tweet "I'm mailing it in". He's fickle. And if people can honestly look at the state of this blog, let alone other blogs, and not come away with the idea that fans are fickle, then they are looking for something to be angry about, probably because they're fickle.

In fact, I find it funny that this comes out the day after I wrote this (H/T @misopogon):

"We cast upon you our hopes without hope to take,

We cast upon you, when we have little at stake,

When we sing your dirge at your wake,

We’ll know your hearts were the last to break.


Opposed at present like we once have been,

And as once we were, we will again,

Battle on for yourselves, not for us fickle men,

Fight on for yourselves, and we’ll meet you again."


Yup, if this team, under this coaching staff, wins Saturday, we'll come back. They won't give up despite fans giving up on them. If they win next year, we'll come back. We are fickle people, this article took a word and made a mountain out of a mole hill because of the way season tickets are priced.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 26th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

but I disagree that any of that makes a person fickle (as a fan). Unless you mean they give up on their team entirely, I don't see that as being fickle.

Here's a for instance for you (and this is an absolute true story). I had a friend I grew up with who's favorite team when we met was the Kansas City Chiefs. He liked them so much he got a tattoo of the arrow head on his forearm. Two years later the chiefs started stinking and he switched to the Raiders (he liked the black and silver). He liked them so much he got their logo tatooed on his other forearm. 

It didn't take him long to figure out that the raiders were turrible so he switched to the patriots (after all, they were winning championships). Long story short, he now has almost every NFL teams logo tattooed on his person.

My previous understanding of the term (that was only solidified by reading the definition you pasted in your post) is people changin their teams/allegences when things get bad. I don't know a single poster who has done that. We all still love the team, root for them, hope the best for them and dearly want to enjoy watching them but this season has been absolutely excruciating.

None of us have abandoned UM. Some may have decided that they don't really want to spend 100 dollars for an experience that will leave them feeling miserable. Is that fickle or sensible?We obviously disagree as to what the term means, but when I read the definition you provided I don't think it fits a person who still loves the team but doesn't want to subject themselves to a miserable experience. 



November 26th, 2013 at 3:27 PM ^

It's fickle if you're not there on Saturday cheering loudly for Michigan because that is what would give the team the best chance to win.  It will be disheartening for the team to see a sea of red, and it won't help with recruiting either.

You have abandoned the team.  Yes, it's fickle.

Yes, it may also be sensible.  It is painful to watch a team you love lose. 

In fact, many people dial back their fandom if they can't handle the pain of your team losing.

This last part seems especially true for teams with winning traditions.  The fans get so spoiled that they feel entitled to wins.  Sometimes I love talking with fans of other teams because they have such a healthy fan attitude with their teams.  They love it when they win, but they don't fall apart when they lose and throw fits.

You still see them at all the games cheering their teams on.  Rain or shine.  Win or lose.


November 26th, 2013 at 7:08 PM ^

You know what would give the team a better chance to win? Al Borges getting off his high horse and calling a game that makes sense. He went too far blaming Denard for "delaying" the implementation of his offense. Our offense was better with Denard in it and yes I believe Brian and other posters showed over the past two years the Denard ypc vs. Non-Denard ypc. It was terrible the last two years and is not a new phenomenon only now Al Borges doesn't have Denard to cover his butt. I'm not as obsessed with Denard as other people on the site but the data is quickly proving this to be the case.

I do believe in "don't pay twice" because maybe Al Borges will be fired which is what most people want but believe will not happen.

The fans are not the problem. The problem exists on the offensive coaching staff.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 28th, 2013 at 8:04 AM ^

What I meant to convey in my post was that I agree with SC that everything he said happens. I also agree that those actions could , in some way, impact the team and the game on Saturday.

What I don't agree with is that making someone fickle. Basically I'm arguing semantics here. I believe there is a distinct difference between what he (and others) are describing and the definition of "fickle". To me they are all describing fair weather fans. 

Now I'm sure everyone here is smart enough to know that is a metaphor. It means that people come out and actively support their team when things are good, but tend not to when things are going poorly. They don't change who they root for or stop caring about the team, they just stop expressing their fandom as vigorously as they otherwise would if the team was playing well.

A "fickle" fan, person etc. would change their favorite team, because that's what fickle is. They would stop supporting the team, stop rooting for the team, pick a new favorite team etc. That's not what's going on here. I mean, I can't speak for everyone else, but at least I don't think that's what's going on here from the comments I've read. What's happening here isn't an act of abandonment, it's an act of self preservation. 

Now personally, I will be glued to my TV here in good ole Yarmouth Nova Scotia watching the game even though I know there is only the smallest of chances that my team will win. I can't bring myself to do anything else. I don't, however, judge other people who have decided that it just isn't worth it to them to suffer through that. To each their own.

At the end of the day my point was simple: I don't believe what is being described fits the definition of "fickle", I believe it is fair weather fans (which I believe are two very different things). I also believe that it was pretty crappy of BH to call fans either of those things in an interview.

BH has shown that he is very calculated in what he says during these press conferences. He never slips up. What fans reading this could think is "We have suffered through watching this offense play all year and when asked about how he feels about the offense he says he feels great, nothings wrong but execution. Then he gets asked about the fans who have supported this program for the past many decades and he calls us fickle?" 

So in essence they feel like he sticks up for and stands behind his coaches but has thrown his players under the bus (only on a couple of occasions, not like AB who always blames execution) and now fans as well? He should have either evaded the question or said something like :

"You know, we have very passionate fans here in A2. They live a breath Michigan football and we really love playing in front of them. This year hasn't turned out quite like we, or the fans would have liked but these kids and this coaching staff will be doing everything we can to win this game saturday and hope the fans are there for the show."

He could have said anything, but to call out the fans wasn't the wisest thing I've heard BH say. He is an expert at giving answers that don't answer anything and this would have been a good time for one of those. What he said here could easily be construed by fans to be a betrayal (at least in my humble opinion), and I say that as one of the people who, if I had a chance, would still be sitting in my seat this saturday.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

I don't take issue with fans being called "fickle." We are. However, I think it is severely disrespectful of Brady to point out the obvious. He talks about accountability. How about taking some accountability and saying, if he coached better, he wouldn't have to worry about the red-out that is coming? I saw some of this, "pass the buck" blame the players, blame the execution - crap with Borges. Brady is better at accepting the blame, but this "fickle" comment should never have been made. It's a throwaway line to him, but to the fans it's an insult.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Fickle would be choosing to support a different, more successful team when Michigan had a down year.

Choosing to sell your ticket to recoup costs as well as not spend all the excess money that must be spent to attend a game (gas, parking, food, drinks, etc.) because the coaching staff has failed to produce a product that has a reasonable chance of bringing you joy (the entire reason  you purchase your tickets) is simply being realistic. You'll still be loyal to your team. You are still interested in your team. You still love supporting the Michigan football team. You are just choosing to do so through a different medium that doesn't require you to go through as much misery. 

Furthermore, a stadium full of opposing fans may lead to a result that increases your chances of future happiness by forcing the obvious change necessary in the coaching staff. 

Space Coyote

November 26th, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

Yes it would. But so does one loyalty and affection to the program you support in better times.

Google/ The Free Dictionary: "changing frequently, esp. as regards one's loyalties, interests, or affection." or "changeable in purpose, affections, etc" or "not constant or loyal in affections"

Merriam-Webster: "marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability : given to erratic changeableness"

So changing teams would be fickle, but so is change to your affections, steadfastness, constancy, stability, etc to this team and this program, by definition. 

I get it, I mean, no one likes to be called things that have a negative connotation. People are being defensive, it's a trait most people have. But I can't believe how many people are trying to say that fans aren't fickle, by the very definition. You don't have to cheat on your girlfriend to be fickle to her. There are degrees of being fickle, maybe some are less fickle than others. But for so many fans to take this and claim "I'm not fickle! I just don't support this team and staff after supporting them fully for the same exact things because they didn't mean my expectations" etc, etc, and claim they aren't fickle, it's kind of laughable.

gustave ferbert

November 26th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

But Brian is spot on. . .it's simple market dynamics.  We've more than held up our end of the bargain.  You charge an arm and a leg for the "Michigan Brand" experience and we get a sub par product on the field is simply unacceptable. .  . Then we're to blame for being fickle? The balls on this guy. . . 


November 26th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

Let me get this straight. Rich Rod says fans should "get a life" after going 3-7 before the OSU game and MgoBlog calls it a "reasonable answer." Hoke essentially says the same thing and the response is to write a diabtribe about ticket prices? What control over ticket prices does Hoke have?

Hoke is right, fans ARE fickle. Your post proves that. If you don't want to go to the game, don't go. I'd gladly buy your tickets if I lived in Michigan. 


November 26th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

There's a difference between a coach calling out fans that are writing awful things about his players online and a coach calling out fans not wanting to attend a game that is likely to be a miserable experience. Especially since the coach is the one most responsible for the game being a miserable experience.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

You are both right. The former is kind of a much sadder statement on one's make up.  I just found his reasoning for it flawed.

However, if you want to get into the literal effects on said player, the sticks and stones thing comes into play.  It's worse now with social media, and the ability to directly contact people, rather than just ranting someplace like here. So it is heightened. But what harms the player more in their actually life? 140 characters from someone who can be blocked, or more and more people in your own stadium rooting against you making it harder for you to win one of the 4 biggest games of your college career?


November 26th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

"This is Michigan fergodsakes" when it's convienent...and those same Michigan fans are now fickle.

You're GD right this is Michigan, Hoke. 3-4 in the Big Ten just isn't good enough. If not accepting 3-4 in the Big Ten makes me fickle, then guilty.



November 26th, 2013 at 3:44 PM ^

I don't/hate either RR or Hoke. Maybe Gerg. And Borges.

I think he took a cheap shot at the fans with the fickle comment. As much as Hoke has been a part of the program, he should know Michigan fans better than that.



November 26th, 2013 at 1:50 PM ^

I had thought the header was a typo and the piece would cover Luke Fickell (not really, psych).  What a surprise.  A good surprise because somebody needed to say it.  The football program has become a mature corporation which issues prepackaged communications.  It's devoid of the passion sparked by Canham, the entrepreneur, and Schembechler, the brilliant product developer.  What's good for GM is good for America (and the consumer), apparently. If you are disappointed with the product, why, that's on you for being "fickle."


November 26th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

The people directly in front of me will be OSU fans, no doubt, because those asshats always sell their tickets to opposing fans. But I'll be damned if some toothless OSU fan redneck is going to put his ass where my ass should be.

Yes, I'm gonna suck it up and watch the beatdown like a man. I doubt I'll feel much, to be perfectly honest. If we make this a game, terrific -- and I sincerely hope we do -- but I just can't see it happening right now. Emotion can only go so far. Technique and coaching are far more important, and we're clearly knuckle-dragging in those two categories right now.


November 27th, 2013 at 1:59 AM ^

I hope the focus is put on the fans that do show up, not the ones that do not.  They deserve better than to be called names.  Hoke should walk around and thank them in person.

I don't like it when Hoke and the team make statements like "this is just for us players, we don't care about anyone on the outside."  There are thousands and thousands of fans on the outside who care about you.  You should care about them.  Each one of those thousands and thousands of fans made an investment in you.

Don't write them off because 6,000 out of 100,000 sold their tickets on Stubhub.



November 26th, 2013 at 1:52 PM ^

Fans ARE fickle.  Not so long ago we were hailing Brady as the patriarch of a golden culture, with memes, poems, and strange music videos popping up in his wake.  Now suddenly everything's terrible?  Or are things exactly the way they always were, but our comprehension and perception of it has changed?

Blue in Yarmouth

November 26th, 2013 at 3:03 PM ^

Price has nothing to do with it? Maybe I'm wrong but I can tell you I believe it has a lot to do with it (not the only reason though). If I had a chance to go see a UM game that I knew absolutely they were going to lose, but I could get a ticket for 40 bucks...I'd be there in a heart beat. 

Conversely, if I paid 300 bucks for a ticket prior to a season and when the game rolled around it was evident we were going to get crushed but I could get some money back from that ticket? Honestly, I don't know what I would do, but I can certainly see why some would take that route.

To say money has nothing to do with it is simplifying things a little too much IMHE.

Beware the Otter

November 26th, 2013 at 3:06 PM ^

Why should ticket holders not sell them to Ohio State fans?  The athletic department treats fans like consumers more than ever, puts a shit product on the field and then when fans act like consumers they get called fickle.  

You don't get to treat people poorly and then act like it's their fault when they take their ball and go home.

Ticket prices are a quantifiable example of the athletic department treating the fans like crap and eliminating any sense of reciprocity between the two.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

Some, maybe even most, fans are fickle. Look at UM's attendance pre-1969. Hell, UM did nor begin to sellout consistently until 1977. Fans follow winners, not losers. My Alma Mater is a stark reminder of this truth.

In having said that, I understand Brian's fury considering the price gouging Brandon has undertaken and the poor product that Hoke has put on the field.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:29 PM ^

Before Bo's arrival, the team stunk, but going to the game was a definitely a good time.  So many empty seats.  You could bring in picnic baskets, coolers, flasks for cold days, etc..  And, at the ticket kiosk, you'd tell the vendor you were a youth group chaperone and get an end zone ticket for as little as a dollar in 1962 and three bucks in '68.  No game on TV and praise be, no ESPN, so you were out in less than three hours.

On the whole, however, a winning team beats all. 


November 27th, 2013 at 2:10 AM ^

Fickle fans are not inherently a bad thing.

When you are trying to fill a stadium that holds 100.000 people you need some fickle fans.  There aren't enough die hards that will fill it up no matter how poorly the team is doing.  You need those fans that want to follow a winning team.

It does not matter if you are Michigan or Eastern Michigan, you're not going to fill up a stadium with a program that is not winning.