Band To Dallas, Brandon On Jerryworld Dollars

Submitted by Brian on April 24th, 2012 at 2:03 PM


Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork gets it done:

Michigan marching band received a letter today from Dave Brandon informing them that they will be heading to Dallas for the 2012 FB opener

Also some well-heeled donor or six dropping benjamins. Nickel and dime, nickel and dime.

Meanwhile, David Brandon on the financial realities of Jerryworld($):

Brandon acknowledged that the athletic department would have made more money had it just hosted a game at Michigan Stadium. "If it was just about the money," he said, "we would have hosted a game here."

But the exposure, the primetime slot and the opponent will do wonders for the program. Brandon said there was no way he could have gotten Alabama or a similarly high-profile opponent to do a one-off game in Ann Arbor. And with the Wolverines' 2013 schedule already full, a home-and-home series would not have worked, either.

…says an athletic director looking at a 2013 return game with UConn for a game scheduled in 2010, in a department that waited half a decade to get a return game from Oregon.

Whatever. Even if it's a grim idea financially for both the department and Michigan fans it's better than a MAC game until we're down two touchdowns. I'll be extremely disappointed if this sort of thing happens again, though. Price marquee games appropriately and there's no reason Michigan can't make it work financially with home and homes. No more middlemen, sterile NFL arenas, etc.

Speaking of, Brandon mentioned that Michigan is pursuing a home and home with a Pac-12 team that should launch in before the 2017, when the conferences will play annual games against each other. Hopefully that means a home game in 2014, when Nebraska/OSU/Notre Dame are again on the road. (Michigan at least adds Penn State to the home schedule that year.)

If that's the case, possibilities are:

  • Cal. Cal has already scheduled a game at Northwestern, however, and probably wants a couple of bodybag home games to fill things out.
  • Oregon. Home date with MSU in 2014 and on the road in 2015. Probably does not want to double up with the state of Michigan, but the schedule seems to work out.
  • Stanford. Similar issue to Cal's: Already @ ND in 2014.
  • USC. USC ain't scurred of filling up its schedule with BCS teams and has a home game with ND in 2014 plus a game at BC(?!?). They'd probably be willing to take on a challenge since BC is going to roll over and die. Complication: this would be smack in the middle of the period sanctions should bite them and they might want to ease up on the scheduling.
  • Utah. Hasn't scheduled anything.
  • Washington State. Has a home game against Wisconsin in 2014 and a road game against Nevada. Unlikely they'd want to go on the road that year.

Everyone else is full in 2014. Utah or USC seem like the most likely options. A home and home with a Utah team that has twice come out for one-offs in the past decade would be something of a letdown.

BONUS RANDOM NOTE: It looks like the prophesied resurrection of multiple interesting nonconference games is coming to pass. Body-bags guarantees and rising ticket prices have finally created an environment where it makes sense to keep people on the hook with games against actual opponents. At least there's that.



April 24th, 2012 at 3:42 PM ^

...I agree this has to be considered a win for Brandon. He's too big a deal to have accidentally figured out a way for someone else to pay for the band flying to the Bama game. I have to give credit to a baseline level of intelligence based on the fact that he's, you know, at the top of the michigan athletic department. 

Is he a ruthless enough individual for that to have been his plan the entire time? That's the real question, in my mind. I'll give him the benefit of a doubt, for now. 


April 24th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

but it needs to be said that this whole situation kind of strengthens the Michigan brand if you're an outsider (in my eyes).

The MMB isn't going to go to Dallas so the Michigan MMB (see also: football) community gets riled, reacts accordingly, and gets their wishes. Community overcomes.

Some recruits are going to see this and not see the financial tug o' war and nickel-and-dimeing and instead see the uproar and support for the program as a serious pro.


April 24th, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

biaka sam has it exactly right. The target audience for this publicity stunt isn't the Michigan Faithful (TM). It's the yet-to-be-converted masses. Brandon's goal isn't so much to please the customers he already has -- Hoke and Beilein and co winning is the most important ingredient in that anyway -- it's to bring in new customers, be they recruits, or t-shirt-buying bandwagon fans, or whoever. To the customers he already has, this focus on the customers he doesn't yet have is infuriating. We feel disrespected, and perhaps rightfully so. But the good business calculation is that he can create an uproar, some of us will get mad, and then the band will march out on the field in Dallas and we'll actually all feel a little better about them doing that then we would have had there been no controversy to begin with. In the meantime, outsiders see what a big deal the band is to us, and maybe a few start to think, "wow, there really is something special about Michigan," and maybe a few of those become new fans. And maybe those new fans buy a few tickets, a few t-shirts, and suddenly we can support two more varsity sports.


April 25th, 2012 at 10:54 AM ^

...but the point is that this uproar, this overwhelming groundswell of support for something that could be viewed as trivial (no offense intended at all) changed the outcome. The band is merely the focal point of this.

Perception is reality- if a recruit can see how community support for the MMB/football program 'swayed' the decision of the big bad AD, thats a big deal. It won't turn Crimson to Maize recruit-wise, but if it's a coin-flip...? Might could be a tipping point.


April 24th, 2012 at 4:20 PM ^

I guarantee you this much: Brandon is always willing to be the whipping boy on the hard core blogs to get the results he wants. This one, he sort of crossed into mainstream fan disapproval. Just a little. Pretty similar to the Ohio scheduling deal when they realligned the conference.

He didn't go too far where it harmed his rep except among the fringe who probably over-analyze and over-criticize him anyways. A vast majority of the massive fan base who watch a game a week wouldn't have known either way and therefore wouldn't have cared. 

The donors with money were properly alerted privately. Getting the Twitter world involved and making a public announcement was probably just added ammunition to encourage quicker action by the donors.

Well played Mr. Brandon. We have a great band at the biggest pre-conference regular season game in the 2012 season. Rejoice.


April 24th, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

from average fans had anything significant to do with Brandon's decision. It was heavy hitters amongst the top-echelon donors and suite owners—people that Brandon knows by name and face and bank account number—who contacted him privately and said, "Dammit Dave, me and my golfing buddies are going down to the game in Dallas and I was expecting the band to be there. We'll kick in some dough but you have to make it happen on your end a bit, too."

Michiganian for Life

April 24th, 2012 at 4:48 PM ^

I love this blog.  I love the environment you have created here.  I love you.  BUT. You are way off base on this Brandon bashing.  Is it really so hard for you to believe that Brandon has the best interest of the program and fans in mind when making these decisions? Is it so hard for you to believe that he had been working on securing the funds for the band (a realitvely trival matter when you step back from it) this whole time?  Sorry Brian, but the "ann arbor torch and pitchforks" didn't "work."  They were just a sideshow to Brandon working on securing the funds.


April 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

Can you please remind me what prevented Brandon from quietly working on this until he secured the needed funds, instead of publicly announcing that the band was not going?  Unless someone held a gun to his head, it's hard to see how the public announcement wasn't designed to bring out the torches and pitchforks -- or, at least, draw the attention of rich donors who could make this happen.  The "sideshow" was created by Brandon himself.

Michiganian for Life

April 24th, 2012 at 5:04 PM ^

Oh boy.  Was 5 days really that long to remember?  Brandon didn't go public with it at first.  The athletic department sent out an email to all of the band members doing the responsible thing by letting them know, far in advance, that they would not be able to attend.  The email was obviously seen by a plethora of people in the media, including the The Daily, who wrote on the subject and asked Brandon for a response.  He then gave them the response.  That isn't the work of an evil genius creating your sideshow just to drum up support; its the work of a responsible AD.  


April 24th, 2012 at 5:10 PM ^

In the corporate world (where Brandon clearly operates), a release to ANY person outside of senior management is considered a public release.  For example, all-employee calls about corporate earnings are generally held on the same day that earnings are released, NOT 5 days beforehand.  In other words, Brandon clearly knew the thread (and reality) that a release to the band was a release to the public.  He knew what was going on for weeks beforehand.


Michiganian for Life

April 24th, 2012 at 5:16 PM ^

So THE ONLY reason in your mind that he could have "gone public," by having the athletic department make the responsible decision to inform the students, was to stir up controversy?  Seems to me you're scrounging to excuse your alarmist behavior.  To me, Brandon made the right call to inform the students well ahead of time.  We have no evidence, either way, of Brandon making efforts to reach out to donors for support - but that doesn't mean he wasn't looking for them!  All in all, your argument just sounds like the "but but but he's soooo corporate"


April 25th, 2012 at 10:01 AM ^

I had a good laugh about that one.  If you do not now believe Brandon's action was a calculated move that was decided far in advance of the announcement to the band then there is not much else anyone can do to change your opinion.  I was simply shedding some light as to how things work in the corporate world where Brandon cut his teeth and learned how to operate as a chief executive.  If you think he is operating any differently as the AD then I think you are simply grasping at ways to justify his decision-making process so that it jives with your feeling that an AD should operate differently than a CEO at a large corporation.


coastal blue

April 24th, 2012 at 10:07 PM ^

He expected 20 year old college students to keep quiet in 2012 till he could resolve the problem? 

Not very savvy. 

Unless of course, Dave Brandon KNEW they would blow it up via a furious internet uprising and thus was counting on this fact to get rich donors to donate towards the cause of bringing the band to Dallas. 

Very savvy.

coastal blue

April 25th, 2012 at 12:56 AM ^

Possibly, but this means Brandon doesn't run as tight of a ship as he lets on. 

Switching gears a bit, letting it out in any way that the band wouldn't be travelling to Dallas due to financial reasons is embarassing and hurts us from a prestige standpoint, thus weakening the Michigan brand. 

I'm confused by all this brand enhancement talk. It reminds me too much of NBA players who are more concerned about endorsements before they've won anything. 

coastal blue

April 25th, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

Well, when that quote about this game not just being about the money springs up and I'm guessing its not nostalgia over the 2000 Orange Bowl that caused this to come together, then I'm assuming he's talking about raising the profile - or improving the brand - of the program.

^ as seen above. 

So say from the financial standpoint, there's no way you can make a Home and Home with Alabama work out for you (raising prices on season tickets for that year, merchandise for both games, etc.), the question has to be asked: If its really about raising the profile of a program, aren't two games against Alabama better than one? Maybe each individual game wouldn't be as big, but if you played one now and one in 2015, doesn't that give you two years of hype with the full ESPN treatment as it will be one of the few marquee OOC games each year? Plus the fans get to see Alabama come to Michigan, plus recruits get to see Alabama play at Michigan (seriously, is Jerryworld's atmosphere going to come close to UTL?). I mean seriously, we wouldn't have gotten double the exposure, two primetime slots, played in two great stadiums with a home/away series with Alabama? 

I think, that from a financial standpoint, Brandon made it seem as if the Dallas game was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Michigan and in reality its only a couple drops in the bucket(After expenses, what do we really receive in regards to that $4.7 million?). So now he's playing it off as "more than the money, its about the opportunity", but that begs the question of whether a one-off exhibition is really better than a home-and-home in regards to raising your profile.



April 24th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

it took the better part of a year to figure out the marching band wasn't in the budget and less than a week to fit them in? I get the feeling more and more that Brandon has no problem generating bad PR so long as he still carries a solution in his back pocket that will appease the masses. It seems to me that he already had a solution but wanted to see what the reaction would be if they went the other way. Assuming that is the case, I really hate these type of PR tactics. It seems to buy into the notion that no PR is bad PR.

I guess coming from the guy who was instrumental in the Dominoes ad campaign which bascially said you were an idiot for buying our product before but please keep buying it since it's awesome now, I shouldn't be surprised.

On the bright side, at least the band is going to Dallas! Go Blue!


April 24th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

When someone says "It's not about the money" it's about one thing.....the $

I thought DB was thinking about buying out  the UConn game.

DB doesn't want home and home. That's why we have the game at JerryLand.

Kilgore Trout

April 24th, 2012 at 7:53 PM ^

It's going to be burn on the donors who funded this when the band goes down there and only plays the Victors in pregame and halftime because we can't crack the 50 yard line against Bama's defense. 

Kidding... I hope.


April 24th, 2012 at 8:10 PM ^

Make up a self-justifying story, even if it doesn't pass the first sniff test and enough people will buy it long enough to declare victory.

Brandon sucks.


April 24th, 2012 at 8:56 PM ^

My read is that Brandon set the stage that the band was going (their seats are in the contract). Then arranged for the band to learn that they weren't going so it would leak. Let the fan base spin themselves up so that it became news. Then "worked" a solution that he could have worked from the very beginning, and soved the problem. 


Well he generated a lot of national buzz about the game. He created a story line that will be discussed on and off in the media until Sept. 2nd. He created a situation that has allowed him to measure the importance of the band to the Michigan fan base, and perhaps other fan bases. Alabama fans started an effort to help get OUR band to the game. A nice gesture, but, perhaps a measure about how important bands are to football fans.

This isn't free of course. In future I, and many alums like me, will view Brandon as less than forthright. I'm very disappointed that our AD played this in a fashion more in line with a third rate program. We're Michigan fergodssake. We are supposed to operate above board with respect for all involved. This may be how you sell pizzas, but it's pretty cheesy from one of the oldest and best football programs in history. 


April 24th, 2012 at 9:18 PM ^

"Alabama fans started an effort to help get OUR band to the game."  

Did they really?  Is this true?
That's embarassing and just pathetic.  We're Michigan fergodsakes.  We don't need charity like we're some Baby Seal U.  
Are we going to ask them to pretty please let us get a first down past the 50? 


April 25th, 2012 at 1:18 AM ^

Important thing is to win the game, that will take care of all this tiny kerfluffle. 

Our historical record versus Alabama is 2-1:

Michigan won the 1988 Hall of Fame game 28 - 24
Alabama won the 1997 Outback Bowl 17 - 14
Michigan won the 2000 Orange Bowl 35 - 34 in OT


Stop this incessant whining and worrying about how we will do against them.  We will be fine.  This is Michigan, fergodsakes!