Hokepoints: Keep Believing Comment Count

Seth September 30th, 2014 at 4:56 PM


Todd Howard came to Michigan in 1998, following the national championship season. We both grew up in the same middle class suburb (Southfield) before moving to more affluent ones. But he was a highly recruited scholarship athlete who played cornerback for four years on the Michigan football team, while I was sort-of recruited journalism student who played guitar on a couch at the Michigan Daily.

Todd now coaches defensive backs in his post-Southfield hometown of Bolingbrook. We've developed a recent friendship over M football obsession, and some heated disagreements, plus wives pregnant at the same time. His perspective is one of a guy who came to Michigan and had it made clear upon arrival that no player is bigger than the program. His perspective is also one of a player who played in an era when "getting your bell rung" was common, "shaking off the cobwebs" was routine, and everybody "saw" a few more snaps than they actually played. But he's also a modern high school coach with responsibility for player safety, and a defensive back who believes inside routes should be punishable by death.

He agreed to let me share a thing he wrote on Facebook and some bits from our text message marathon last night.

From the texts:

  • Supports Hoke, says he's a good coach and the right coach for Michigan.
  • Players always play hurt.
  • Doesn't know what's going on in the administration and can't affect it.
  • Want people thinking long-term: Michigan will be great again. Supports people speaking out, but turning away disgusts him.
  • Every effort should be made to show the players they're supported, including showing up to games and cheering for them and not distracting the coaches further.

The Facebook open letter to fans:

Dear Michigan "Fans"...I really couldn't have said it any better myself. You took success for granted. 8 win seasons became the norm and you got comfortable. You never saw the hard work and late hours put in behind those brick walls of Shembechler. The lack of sleep, barely being able to drag yourself to class, minor addictions to pain killers, while fighting to remain academically eligible. PLAYING through injuries most of you couldn't make it up a flight of stairs with. The coaches preparation every week from sun up to sun UP, sacrificing valuable time with their own families so the BEST team possible could take the field on Saturday.

Now your "favorite" team is going through some adversity and look at you! Look at how you respond. Are you a Michigan FAN because it's convenient? Sure, every one loves a winner...if that's the case take your allegiance down I-96.

It's so easy for you to call for Hoke's job. You've never met him, never had a beer with him, never seen him COACH! Only interviews and cutaways on Saturday. If you think you want to win, multiple that by 100 and MAYBE you'll attain the same passion he has for football and an equivalent compassion for his players.

My brothers and myself are Michigan MEN, not FANS! So to read some of your comments and rants is a little disheartening. Is this how you would've ridiculed us had we not been as successful? Would you not inbox us autograph requests?

When you're team is up, cheer! When you're team is down, cheer LOUDER! When your team wins, congratulate them. When your team loses, sympathize and have pride in the fact they gave everything they could. That's a TRUE fan...but instead you're spoiled. It's a privilege to cheer for Michigan. It's a privilege to sit in the Big House...not an obligation. "The Expectation is for the POSITION!" Back to yours!!!

/adjusts Michigan hat

...as you were. HAIL!

[My rebuttal, after the jump.]

Sports fans don't turn out in huge numbers just to support the players; they're there because they enjoy it, and lately much of that enjoyment is gone.

This is the ticket I bought off Steve Kyritz. It cost me $13.50 to upgrade to superfan.

Specifically to Michigan, what used to be a bargain was made prohibitively expensive. Let's not underestimate the fallout: Michigan Stadium didn't drop from 113,000 to "103,000." It dropped from capacity plus a wait list of 200,000. The wait list is gone because Michigan put a $1,000 price tag just to be on it, leveraging the 300,000 potential fans to just 80,000 willing to pay triple the price. They leveraged the students even harder, and this was compounded by an awful home schedule to fill just 2/3 of the students' seats.

Losing teams always get less follow than winning ones, but there's far more at play with this team, because the athletic department has been driving off fans with mercenary policies. Of course the stadium is filled with fair-weather fans; a big portion of them only went because they were offered free tickets and the weather was fair.

This isn't the same program which our freshman year cost $81 for season tickets, and featured McNabb vs Tom Brady, Saban's MSU, Randel-El, #9 Penn State, and #8 Wisconsin (and EMU, but that was on Rosh Hashanah), not to mention the banner, the band, and flinging toilet paper and marshmallows from our pockets that also had flasks of rum & coke. Students today pay more than that for their App State tickets, and can't sell their tickets to non-students unless the buyer pays an exorbitant fee. They get frisked on their way in, get treated like criminals once they're seated, and last year had to put up with a seating policy that separated them from their friends.

I didn't mention winning in there, but of course our freshman season was a team coming off a national championship, and of course that mattered. I went to the PSU game on a friend's ticket and we cheered so loud in that end zone that Paterno ran out the clock in the 3rd rather than try another goal line play in our proximity. That wasn't just because the team was good—you guys barely got by Minnesota the week before—but because the fan experience was otherworldly.

There's nobody in sports easier to root for than the players in college football, and there's no Michigan fan who can look at a guys like Peppers (made himself great and emerged from the deepest part of the depth chart), Butt (7 months ago his ACL wasn't even attached), or Gardner (who's still picking bits of 2013 linebackers out of his sternum) without immense admiration for what they go through to be out there.

The players probably do share much of the blame—if they'd practiced harder, tried harder, focused better, their execution could have prevented the holes the team fell into. Fans tend to overlook that because the players are young and unpaid. When there's a player who clearly can't play we mostly get mad at the coaches for putting him in a position to fail.

The things that really drive fans away have nothing to do with the players. When you ask most fans who've stopped paying attention this year what did it, they point to specific events: 1) Michigan running the clock out against Notre Dame but trying to pretend like they were still trying by having the starters in there, which got Funchess injured. 2) Michigan doing the same exact thing against Utah. 3) The Morris incident, and 4) again running down the clock punting the ball away down 2 scores late in the 4th quarter. #3 is an issue of national embarrassment, for which many fans believe they need to make an example to show their displeasure. The rest are fans taking a cue directly from the team. They don't doubt the players put themselves through hell to prepare for those 60 minutes on Saturday, until they see the coaches letting those same minutes slip away when the game isn't out of reach.

The thing is, very few fans are going to be as emotionally invested in the team as a guy like me (and I wouldn't have gotten there if it wasn't for that PSU game in '98), even in good times, and NOBODY is as invested as the players and coaches. You can't hold the entire Michigan fanbase to the standard of the players' passion. Fans will invest only as much time and money as they find worthwhile against all the other things in their lives. The greatest team in history couldn't fill a high school stadium with fans as loyal as a player. To get a 113,000 fans to show up and be loud, it has to be epic, and I don't mean fireworks; I mean defending national champs with names like Swett/Irons/Gold/Steele vs. Ron Dayne.

This team can't get out of its own way long enough to beat a bad batch of Gophers. Before you ask why Shane was in there after a clear headshot, ask why he was in there after a clearly unproductive handful of drives. Michigan was inserting a sophomore QB who clearly wasn't ready to play because in five years they still haven't figured out that Devin Gardner has different skills than John Navarre. I know as well as anyone that there's more to the story than that. But you know as well as anyone that it's painful to watch potential greatness get wasted.

Michigan will have this problem for a long time, because they've spent the last few years chasing away any fan who won't pony up more money than a typical household can justify, because they've obliterated the student experience which spit out guys like me for generations, and because for most of Michigan's home games this year the thing on the line is "either we cream them or we're not very good."

A true fan is someone who wants the team to win. If we extend the definition any further, it's just alienating more people from a dwindling base.



September 30th, 2014 at 5:53 PM ^

I'm perfectly willing to admit that guys like Todd Howard have experiences and perspective that we don't.  And that they're very likely to know the people personally that we heap criticism on.

But it might behoove Todd Howard to remember that most of us have experiences and perspective that he doesn't, prominent among them being that we spend money (which we also happen to work hard to get) to follow these teams of ours.  Todd Howard may be best buds with Hoke, and it'd be understandable to see the criticism get under his skin - but I also bet he's never paid a dime to see what the rest of us have to shell out for.


September 30th, 2014 at 5:59 PM ^

Almost all the outrage over the last three days has been over the Morris incident, despite the AD shitting on fans for years. . . one of the most passionate outpourings for the welfare of a single player I've ever witnessed (I mean FFS it's a concussion, not a severed artery). . . and Mr. Howard here is saying we're not supporting the players?



September 30th, 2014 at 6:02 PM ^

One argument against Howard: most fans don't know what it's like to be inside the program, but most old players don't know what it's like to be a fan.

They are totally different worldviews, and I'm finding that they are not compatible.


September 30th, 2014 at 6:20 PM ^

That's horsesh*t. I lived for three years with members of the football team in the late 1980s. I got to know, admired tremendously and looked up to guys like Brent White, Gerald White, and other underclassmen who went on to be stars under Bo and Mo. During those years, more than simply rooting for the team, I was rooting for them. I still do.

But I also knew some of Bo's coaching staff, though not the man himself. Can you really sit there and with a straight face suggest that he or they would be at all pleased with what has become of the program they worked so tirelessly over so many years to build into a consistent winner? Or would he believe that these players are being underserved by a group of coaches and Athletic Department administrators who are not up to the task of coaching and leading MICHIGAN?


September 30th, 2014 at 6:45 PM ^

I don't think they would be happy, nor have I said otherwise. I, myself, have jumped off the bandwagon.

But in the context of this debate, fans and players will never agree. Any old player might understand your reasons for wanting to boycott, but they will probably not join you. Their experience as a kid on the field would make a boycott very unlikely, because they automatically empathize with the kids. In this context, the worldviews are incompatible.

Ask the Whites, I am sure they would encourage you to go and cheer the team on. Sometimes, when old ballplayers suggest you support the troops, its because they actually think its a good idea to support he troops.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:13 PM ^

From my couch. The Department of Athletics is so isolated, so tone deaf, so willing to monetize and commoditize the precious rarity of a fall Saturday in Ann Arbor, that I am left with no choice but to express my dissatisfaction with the department, the football program and its leadership in the only way left to me: stay home.


September 30th, 2014 at 6:03 PM ^

What I've learned through all of this is that you can change coaches and you can change ADs but you can't change fans. And some of you think it's okay to personally attack a head coach, boycott games (with some ass backward justification that it's for the players and generally throw tantrums because your team is not entertaining you. When it's time to circle the wagon you take to the internet to build the attack.

Fuck all of that, especially that which dismisses comments from those who have actually walked the walk. It's plainly obvious where your interests are. Howard takes pride in his association with Michigan football, he believes in what in contributed to him in becoming a man.

The Michigan roster is filled with kids who loved the school and staff. How anyone thinks these last few weeks plays well with them is beyond me. When Rodriguez left some players openly wondered where the fan support for them was during his years. What are they thinking now?

I'll stand with Howard.

Jukey Smoot

September 30th, 2014 at 6:08 PM ^

There are some great points here. A lot of my dwindling in investment in my fandom of Michigan football has not been very conscious, but it's pronounced. I've absorbed all things Michigan Football since a young age, have alumni parents, and am an alumnus myself. 

I love Michigan football like a family friend, and it's a family in so many ways. That said, if one of my family was making poor choices and hurting oneself, and you truly believed they were on that path, I wouldn't reward their actions or god forbid, financially encourage it. I don't think the reactions recently have been abandonment, i.e. "I'm done with UM football." I think it's much more akin to worrying about the program's direction, and the well-meaning wish to adjust the course for better. Lack of comment or enthusiasm for recent events would be far more damning to the program's fortunes. Go Blue!


September 30th, 2014 at 6:08 PM ^

No, not even close, and you don't know what you're talking about.

Seth and Brian have it right. THIS IS NOT MICHIGAN. Instead of an upcoming, offensively-minded head coach with GERG coaching defense, we have ineptiude everywhere, it seems, but defense; i.e., the exact inverse of the prior situation.

And we've witnessed this level of yakity sax for seven of the last eight consecutive years; eight of the last nine if you count THE HORROR. Now, in only the previous four days, we have witnessed double-speak on top of obfuscation on top of incompetence on top of injury.

But let's stick to Mr. Howard's points alone. We have had four years of outstanding recruiting classes under Brady Hoke, only to watch that talent go completely wasted. I don't doubt that those players work their asses off. I don't doubt that the coaches do, too.

But guess what: If I worked my ass off and still suck at my job, I'll be dismissed or reassigned. That's just how it works. It shouldn't be any different for Brady Hoke, Dave Brandon or anyone else just because the players on the field - and in particular, past players who recall their former glories - expect to somehow be treated any differently.


September 30th, 2014 at 6:19 PM ^

I  wanted RR to stay, thinking that , a (eventually ) senior Denard Robinson, his 4th year in a spread offense, would be damn near unstoppable.  I had visions of him lighting up team after team for 100's of yards on the ground and through the air.  But then RR's defense was horrid... and so on... 

At least under RR you could claim (granted, weakly) that things were improving.  7 wins was better than 5, which was better than 3.

I mostly agree with Todd Howard's sentiments.  But facts are facts.

This squad is going the wrong way, clearly.   Here Hoke is in year 4 and the way things have been going, we're headed for 2-10.

I would love to think that I'm wrong, most everyone else is wrong, and that things will turn around this weekend with a win over Rutgers.   I would love to see it.  But I seriously doubt it will happen.

Were we looking at 7-5 or 6-6 I would be on the side of caution and say give Hoke & co. another year.   I see a defense that could be great next season... however will it have an offense to go with it?  Will it have any offense, for that matter, to go with it? I'm not seeing that happen.

EDIT:  Mattison showed what a good coach can do.   He turned a horrid defense into  a good one in one season.  I expected the offense to at least not get worse this season, but as we all know it got  worse, and by quite a bit.




September 30th, 2014 at 6:12 PM ^

I'm mad at hoke.

I'm mad at Brandon.

But protests, and screaming, and publicly demanding a new coach, etc. just make us look more pathetic.

Watch the game, don't watch the game.  Whatever.

I have made peace with the fact that not only are we not good at football, but also our coaches are all dead men walking and we are going to have to succumb to another coach search.  It sucks, but we can still be great.  We have facilities, we have some talent, and we have the big house.

What I can't make peace with is the constaint wailing and tearing of the garments; the only thing we do well on mgoblog is complaining...

For fucks sake lets all take a deep breath and stop embarassing our university even more.




September 30th, 2014 at 6:20 PM ^

I can't agree with Mr. Howard when he speaks of our fan base "taking success for granted". We sure did have a lot of great years, but since 2005 (with two exceptions) UM football has been mired in mediocrity. When I was growing up I did expect U of M to win every game, this philosophy has sadly experienced enough of an affront over the course of the last DECADE that it no longer is valid (I think for anyone). We reveled in our moral victory against OSU last year. That is not indicitive of a fanbase that takes success for granted. We take failure as the norm because is it just plain easier to deal with than the lofty expectations of our childhood. Sad, sad times around here.


September 30th, 2014 at 6:55 PM ^

Why am I becoming the worst? I am becoming the worst case scenario due to apathy.

This is not just due to wins and loses but to our family losing it's tailgating spot of over 36 years in what is now the Champions east lot. It's due form cutting our PSD doubling in the last 4 years. It's due from my yearly donation being laughed at by the department and it's return meaningless. It's from cutting our number of seats from 6 to 4 and possibly to either 2 or none next year as prices will surely increase. This isn't just because of Hoke, it's because of an athletic department that feels it's perfectly fine to push over priced expansion of the athletic campus and asking mostly football ticket holders pay up for a multi-million dollar indoor rowing facility. If the team is going to struggle how can any of this be justified at level it has been pressed?

When it comes to "taking my allegience down I-96" I'll let you know if I see anyone I know when I go with my friend to a MSU game. His family has been able to keep their 6 tickets for the past 20 years as well as their tailgate spot in the lot on Shaw despite their recent success. It's a real shame I can no longer return the favor because I like having both kidneys. Luckily StubHub has $60 tickets for Penn State so maybe I still take them and enjoy a game with people I love and show them a great time in Ann Arbor.

Eye of the Tiger

September 30th, 2014 at 6:49 PM ^

I just don't support the coach or the athletic department after what they've done to the program.

Hoke is paid a lot of money to win football games. Admittedly it's a very complex job, and much of what they do happens off-screen. I don't think Hoke is a bad guy--I've always liked him and admire his enthusiasm for our school. But the bottom line is that he is not paid a lot of money to take what should be an 8-9 win team (reasonable expectations considering (talent + experience)/2) and produce a 2-4 win team, which is what we look like right now. That's not supporting the players in any which way. 

And that isn't even the close to biggest problem we have right now. The University of Michigan isn't an NFL franchise, andBrandon should not be allowed to transform one of the greatest, most soulful college experiences possible into the soulless corporate drivel the NFL has put out for decades.

To illustrate through metaphor, we used to be Dominick's--maybe not the best food at the end of the day, but an unforgettable experience spanning generations. But that's not who we are anymore. Now we're Domino's.

THAT'S what we're all angry about.


September 30th, 2014 at 6:54 PM ^

With Bo Schembechler?  Bo shared himself with us on Sundays.  You knew what Bo was thinking because, for the most part, he told you with little reservation.  You perhaps didn't even want to know something but Bo told it to you straight up anyway because ... well that was Bo.  Bo, with his oft utilized headset, communicated intensity, passion and an old-school warrior philosophy even marching around or hunkering down on the sidelines with a blade of grass clenched between his teeth.  We identified with that cat because he shared himself. (Fortunately, unlike his mentor Woody, Bo didn't share TOO MUCH passion.)
Brady Hoke hardly shares anything.  He may as well be a styrofoam cutout.  We are not allowed at practice and cannot see Brady "coach."  Even the open scrimmages appear bland and scripted.  Brady's press conferences are a farsical joke and a running gag.  Brady doesn't contribute the equivalent of 'Michigan Replay.'  All we have left to bond with Brady is what is displayed on the field by our favorite team on gameday and that has been stinking to high heaven for years.  Brady himself doesn't appear to do very much on the sidelines, ever.
Times have changed, of course.  But it should be no surprise to Todd Howard that we the fans do not identify with Brady Hoke and his teams like we did with Bo Schembechler and Bo's teams.  Even Lloyd Carr gave us more of himself to bond with than Brady has, even if that was only Lloyd's reading list.  To a significant degree, it's Brady's own damn fault and the fans' appreciation for the players takes the hit.  Tough noogies, Todd Howard.


September 30th, 2014 at 7:16 PM ^

Totally disagree with Mr. Howard on this one.

First of all:

Priveledge: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Attending a Michgian game as a fan is not a "priveledge".  It's a commodity.  Becoming more and more like any other generic football game.  Overpriced tickets, overpriced food, piped in music, dwindling attendence, generic football game.  The AD has turned it into this.

It used to be a priveledge to pay market value and see Michigan kick the shit out of opponents and win 10 games a season en route to the Rose Bowl.    But watching this team possibly miss on a bowl game altogether at record prices...no that's punishment.  Punishment for the fans who spend hard earned dollars to watch a subpar product and have a subpar experience.

Secondly, no one denies what warriors the players are.  It was clear on Saturday for example how Shane played through pain.  Or last year against Ohio State when Devin turned hero with a broken foot.  It's incredible.  But hard work does not equal high performance.  It's the same in the real world as it is in sports.  Some people are hard workers and it doesn't translate into results.  Those people generally have stunted careers.  Brady Hoke is one of those people.   He may work harder than any other coach in the country, but his win/loss record gets worse every year.  In the real world, you lose your job for that.

Lastly,  fans in general are down on the coach and AD, not the players.  What players (including Mr. Howard) need to keep in mind is that fans are limited by how they can express their displeasure.  They can use their pocketbooks or they can use public opinion.  It's unfortunate that the players have to suffer with the media fall out or the low attendance, but fans have no other choice.  Players need to realize this and get over themselves.  Fans are not doing this to hurt the players, but to do what they feel is in the best interest of the athletic program.

The FannMan

September 30th, 2014 at 7:21 PM ^

"My brothers and myself are Michigan MEN, not FANS!" - is probably the most arrogant and entitled phrase ever stated on this blog.  And that is saying something.

I am 43 year old man with a 2 degrees from Michigan, a wife, three kids, a house etc.  You played college football a dozen years ago.  That doesn't give you the right to talk down to me like I am three year old and tell me how to feel.  I've had season tickets since my freshman year (Fall 1989).  Then I got permanent tickets.  That means I saw every home game you played in.  I cheered my ass off for the team.  I continue to shell out my time. love and, yes, money to this program.  (Do you pay for season tickets Todd, or do you snap up the freebies that Mike Taylor doesn't grab?  Do you come to every game?)  That makes me a part of this thing that is called Michigan football.  It entitles me to a voice. 

And, for your edification, I have never booed a Michigan player.  They are kids who,as you correctly point out, are working their asses off.  They deserve, and get, much respect.  Now, I have booed coaches and Lord knows I have bitched about Brandon.  Those are grown men - like me and you.  And they signed a very rewarding contract.  Part of that is taking the heat, espcially when they disgrace the University like they did this weekend.

Todd, you got to be a Michigan football player.  I can't imagine how great that must of been and how much pride you must rightly feel in that.  But don't let that accomplish fool you into thinking that you can dictate to others how they feel or how they act.  

One final question - are you and the other "Michigan Men" truly happy about the state of the program?  Leave the Shane thing aside for a minute, what about getting rolled by ND and curb-stomped by Minnesota are you cool with?  How about the bitch-slapping that State administered last year?  These kids need help Todd. At least us mere Fans are doing something to try to bring about change.  What are you and your Brothers doing to help?


September 30th, 2014 at 7:26 PM ^

The comment that Todd Howard is out of touch and tone deaf is right on the mark, the first commenter on this post has it right.  


Considering Hokes track record and extrapolating his poor performance to other situations, what do you think of the following circumstances? 

If this were a war, with life & liberty at stake, would you keep Hoke as your commander?

If Hoke were your financial advisor, with your life savings at stake, would you continue to take his advice?

If Hoke was the CEO of the company where you worked, with your job on the line, would want him to continue as CEO?

If Hoke were leading the way up Mt Everest in a  storm would you continue to follow him?

If Hoke were your kids little league coach, would you want him to continue to coach your kid?


Todd Howard's suggestion that we continue to exhibit blind allegiance is moronic. 



Blue Ninja

September 30th, 2014 at 7:33 PM ^

I respect Todd Howard's opinion, but the fact is he has too close of a personal relationship with Brady Hoke to have an objective opinion. Fact is this isn't really just about Shane, it's not even just about the craphole of a season that has enveloped Michigan football.

No, its the stubbron refusal to adapt and change. It's the constant refusal to admit to specific gaffes and mistakes. It's the fact this team has shown little improvement or ability to execute. It's the fact that going on 4 years it seems the program has taken 9 steps back for the 2 steps taken forward in his first season. It's the fact that for 8 years now, those who have been loyal have put up with the program being a constant joke and punchline. More than that we are sick of losing to teams we shouldn't, inexplicably still make mistakes that were an issue under RR. It's the fact that for even longer, going on 15 years this program has been dominated by our biggest rival, OSU. It's the fact this program has been allowed to slip into mediocrity despite recruiting in the top 25 year in and year out. It's the fact that depth is no longer an issue, talent is no longer an issue and outside of the OL experience should not be an issue. Other teams have the same experience issues and yet are able to overcome them.

Had the Notre Dame game been the single oulier thus far we would only be debating the question of if Hoke is the long term answer. But combined with the complete ineptness of this team in just about every facet of the game and the fans have reason to be up in arms. I have been a fan since the mid 1980's, for the first time in my life I can honestly say I have no wish to watch another game this season. I'm sure I'll tune in to PSU, MSU and OSU games but the rest I no longer care to watch the carnage and in those games once the blowout ensues I shall quietly reach out to the remote and push the power off button. Will a tear be shed in that eventuality? Probably. But only for what once was.

Durham Blue

September 30th, 2014 at 7:44 PM ^

Hoke is not a bad guy by any account.  He loves Michigan and it shows.  And I'm sure he loves his players and probably wishes he had that moment back to get Shane off the field.  BUT, he is a grown man that is paid a ton of money to make many more correct decisions than incorrect (stupid) decisions.  This is the problem.


September 30th, 2014 at 7:56 PM ^

Agree with Howard.  This whole situation is ridiculous and overblown.  It's the medical staff's job to tell Hoke who can't play, they didn't say anything, this is on them.  When someone with a gimpy ankle stumbles of course you think it's because of the ankle, you don't assume his head got smashed in the 5 seconds you weren't looking at him.


Will be happy to see DB go though.


October 1st, 2014 at 8:27 AM ^

Regardless of what your opinion is of the Morris incident (e.g., the medical staff is at fault, Hoke is at fault, it's overblown, etc), it's hard to agree with Howard on Hoke's coaching ability. Hoke has demostrated over consecutive seasons that he isn't a good coach. Maybe he's a great guy to have a beer with, but he clearly isn't great at preparing a competitive football team.

Howard's making a lot of arguments about who is allowed to have opinions and what it means to be a fan that are all pretty condescending, arrogant, and riddled with logical fallacies (the scare quotes around FANS might as well be a link to the Wikipedia page on "No True Scotsman").


September 30th, 2014 at 8:08 PM ^

The lack of self-awareness and contridictory lambasting on here is becoming criminal.

Maybe it's because i've never been a "true" Michigan fan and lack the awareness and experience of being a fan of the Wolverines before 2000, but the amount of "pride before the fall" going on here is catestrophic. I want to fill this paragraph with as many cliches as possible as it seems like that's the only argument being made right now. The anti-"Michigan Man" cliche which would have gotten you thrown to the wolves only 3 years ago. The amount of grasping at any strawman to combat the 'no true scotman' fallacies is the pinnicle of a fan base foaming at the mouth without any regard for reason; purely emotional reactionaries looking to burn whatever they can get their hands on at the stake.

There is a reason major news networks picked up the story: It's click bait

There is a reason national sports pundits keep saying this wouldn't be an issue if it was Saban at Alabama or UM was 5-0 because it's wholly accurate. We would be knee-slappin all night long about how Hoke said Shane had a "boo-boo" and we can't wait til get Sparty on the 25th. But, UM is 2-3 and the horizon looks dark, so we dip the straw in the kerosene and rumble angirly down toward the next gameday looking for an inch of excuse to string up the next shadow of Michigan arrogance.


You Only Live Twice

September 30th, 2014 at 8:16 PM ^

As with apparently everyone else here, this has been on my mind almost minute by minute since Saturday.   Different people weighing in with different comments has my tired mind taking twists and turns... one thing is for sure.  I will be attending each and every home game that is left.  I hope others do the same..... because our team needs to look up in the stands and see fans there. 

User -not THAT user

September 30th, 2014 at 8:28 PM ^

"8 win seasons became the norm and you got comfortable. "

8 wins these days means a .666 winning percentage (8-4).  Not what you'd call "excellence" by any stretch.  More likely than not those losses are to conference rivals in East Lansing in Columbus, maybe a high-profile OOC opponent early (used to be Notre Dame), with a "wild card" loss to be distributed where you least expect it.  8 wins and you're not competing for a Big Ten championship, no Rose Bowl or other BCS Bowl berth, and sure as hell no spot in the playoff starting this year.

Is that the best we can hope for?  8 wins and a visit to some second-tier New Year's Day game in Florida that starts before noon?

Hell, from where we are now that sounds like paradise.

When I was a kid and they only played 11 games per season, 9 wins was the minimum you'd expect out of a Michigan team.  One loss was usually a close game to ND, but they were good back then and while it still sucked to lose, it wasn't anything you wouldn't feel more shame than anger (or disappointment) over.  The other loss was usually in conference, but one loss in the Big Ten was still enough to win or share the conference championship.

Michigan is not an 8-win program, and "getting comfortable" with that number means accepting medicority, which is what the program has been for most of this century and not a small part of the '90's.

How many 8-win seasons has Ohio State has over that period of time?  That's the standard Michigan should be looking at when it comes to on-field performance.  "8 wins" doeth not "the Leaders and Best" make.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:31 PM ^

When I go to Michigan games, I want to see the players love Michigan football as much as I do. Years ago, during the Harbaugh years, when I was in school, there was just no question about that. Their passion was infectious. As for wins, well, you win some and you lose some. But there's been something missing on the field for years now, and it's that love of playing, love of Michigan football. I feel like I see it in the first drive sometimes, and then it evaporates. I don't think Hoke, with all his Michigan rhetoric, instilled that love in his players. He wanted to, but he just hasn't been able to. If there was something that would cure all that ails us, that would be it. 


September 30th, 2014 at 8:33 PM ^

"Sports fans don't turn out in huge numbers just to support the players; they're there because they enjoy it, and lately much of that enjoyment is gone."

Speak for yourself. I'm here to support Frank Clark and Devin Gardner.

Space Coyote

September 30th, 2014 at 8:40 PM ^

Two things you see with both Howard's and Seth's points is that are both passionate, but they aren't angry.

Anger is clouding a lot of people right now about a lot of things. It has in the past and it's stronger than ever now. That's not necessary inconceivable, but it is the truth. These comments are littered with pot shots at Hoke, basically calling him a dimwitted boob that doesn't know a thing about football. They are filled with "Fuck you, Todd" and "get off your high horse".

What this comment section strongly lacks, outside of a some instances, is empathy.

Here we are in a position, we have an opportunity to see something from a former player and high school coach's perspective, someone who has been inside the program, knows Hoke himself, and understands a lot about football.

On the flip side we have an extremely passionate fan, someone who is able to craft a very well written response from his point of view, without having to feel the need to justify not being a player, but justify his point by being a fan.

What should be the outcome of this thread is having a better understanding of both sides. Understand Howard's POV and better understand your own. Have empathy for people. Try for a moment to understand their position and see their POV. You don't have to agree with it in the end, but you will be better informed.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:09 PM ^

I take your point, but the tone of Howard's post isn't all that conducive to empathy. None of us would ever go anywhere near suggesting that our commitments as fans are in any way akin to the athletes' commitments, but most of us have devoted a fair amount of time and money and passion and insanity to Michigan football. It's obnoxious to suggest that people aren't "true fans" because they're insisting that a pretty crappy situation is, in fact, a pretty crappy situation.


October 1st, 2014 at 1:09 AM ^

While I understand your point and am not myself "angry" at this letter, Howard's tone is extremely condescending and fails to establish the same empathy you're calling on its readers to have. It's a two-way street. Furthermore, this letter is rife with the very cliches a lot of us have been fed up with for a while now. The "Michigan Man" stuff was so easy to fall back on when there was relatively little adversity within the program. Now those terms have become empty in a lot of ways. So maybe someone within the program comes up with a point of view that doesn't hearken back to the same narrow mindedness that got the program into this problem in the first place. 


October 1st, 2014 at 3:04 AM ^

who probably has tried hard and works very hard to be successful here. However, based on  his performance he is failing. I'm sure there are a lot of other great professional who work hard but cannot make the mark, like a CEO who cannot reach profit margins. What happens to coaches who cannot win at major college football program, they get fired. That goes for ADs as well! Hoke has tried but he is failing. He may lack the talent to be a major college coach and hopefully after this season he will find a successful niche as coach at a smaller program or join a team as an assistant coach.

Brandon has not performed well as AD and should be fired. Hopefully we can find a great AD who will hire a great coach to get our program back on the winning track. It is just frustrating looking at the talent on the team and seeing them not perform well on the field.


October 1st, 2014 at 4:37 PM ^

They are filled with "Fuck you, Todd" and "get off your high horse".


When you blatantly insult people from a high horse, denigrate their fandom, and engage in the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy about them... you really can't expect a lot of "empathy".

You can expect people to respond exactly as they have.


October 1st, 2014 at 5:03 PM ^

I totally disagree. Howard starts out his open letter with condescending scare quotes around "FANS" that sets a definite tone of calling people out and talking down to them. Then he punctuates it with the line about how he and his are Michigan Men while everyone else are just fans. That's him talking down to everyone else and telling them that they are lesser than him. He definitely sets a tone and it's that of kind of a dick.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:35 PM ^

I think support of the current situation is completely delusional.  Comments defending any of this is....there is no word for it.   Michigan has never played this poorly ever!   This isn't a lack of faith in the team or kids as the Schembechler quote alludes to, its not fate that has snatched away a victory here.  A dove didn't fly in front of a Shane Morris pass in the final seconds to deflect certain victory from the Wolverines!  Its plain and simple, the team isn't winning due to inept coaching.  4 years with declining results.  In any other venue this simply would not be tolerated.  Pull your heads out of the sand or from wherever and stop being sheep that follow blindly no matter what.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:39 PM ^

...why I don't want Lloyd Carr filling in on a temporary basis.  Keep him and his former players at a distance.

I don't know if LC's guys are younger, and therefore more immature in these situations, but the toxicity that arrived in 2008 and is still here in bits and pieces are from those guys.  From the #1 jersey garbage, negatively recruiting UM, and this piece, I am just annoyed by these guys.  

Maybe there's a reason that we haven't won a B1G since 2004 and beat Tressel one time.  

Maybe they felt a sense of entitlement because of the helmet they wore and the stupid title of "Michigan Men" that they didn't need to work as hard.  

Maybe that's why the 2000 defense that Todd Howard started for did not have the stamina to hold three 10+ point second half leads and prevented us from playing for a MNC.

I don't think those reasons have anything to do with the "FANS" that continued to break attendance records to see those "MICHIGAN MEN"

Indiana Blue

September 30th, 2014 at 9:46 PM ^

makes me wonder the input Lloyd had on the Hoke hire.  RR was so "different" from the norm, that the next move was an attempt to return to Bo / Mo / Lloyd.  And let's all remember that Brady's time at Michigan was under Lloyd.  I know crying over spilled beer  -  but whatever.

No way Hoke survives ....

Go Blue!