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 2:09 PM ^

Great news....the public outcry actually worked for a change, assuming this wasn't DB's plan all along.

I trust the cheerleaders will be in attendance also.

Brandon, we are saving you money by not having a mascot.  Let's keep things this way.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

that Brandon will say anything to suit the occasion, truth be damned? Because he's previously said something different about the financial aspect of Jerryworld versus a home game:

"The numbers had to work," Brandon said. "We were not going to be penalized (for giving up the home opener) and that was something that was communicated to ESPN when they called."

So now that it turns out there's a financial penalty, it was "never about the money." Whatever.



April 24th, 2012 at 2:29 PM ^

It is a financial penalty only if you look at this in the construct of "playing at Jerryworld vs. Alabama vs. or playing Babby Seal U".

Any real opponent requires a home-and-home. This is financially more lucrative than a home-and-home. In this scenario, one year we play a home game against babby seal U, the other we play for 3/4 the revenue of a home game against Bama.

A home-and-home, we get a full home-game of revenue one year, and bupkus when we travel to Tuscaloosa.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

With a home-and-home, I get to actually attend one of the games as a reward for my seat license payment and ever-escalating season ticket prices.  If all that's left on the home schedule is Baby Seal, and all the decent games are at neutral sites, how likely is it that season ticket holders will plunk down their money for that?  But hey, at least DB will get to sit on a big pile of Jerry Jones's money -- or not, depending on how well he negotiates the neutral site deals.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:42 PM ^

I'm not arguing that this is the correct decision. I'm saying that the finances, they way you described above, and Brian describes, are factually incorrect. Well, they're correct, but incomplete to the point that they entirely distort reality.

I think you have a valid complaint, and I understand it. I was merely trying to point out a common misconception in the thinking. Brian keeps writing "WHY DO THIS IF YOU'RE NOT MAKING MORE MONEY". Well, they ARE making more money - that's why they're doing it.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:51 PM ^

In the post to which you responded, I wasn't describing the finances of the deal at all.  I just repeated Brandon's initial claim that in negotiating the deal, he emphasized to ESPN that there could be no financial penalty from a home opener that Michigan otherwise would be playing.  Now he's saying he "knew all along" that Michigan would suffer monetarily versus a home opener.

On the separate topic of the finances of this deal versus home-and-home versus Baby Seal, I'm just making the point that, in my mind, some of the arguments here are missing:  namely, that the "neutral site" approach has ramifications to the price you can charge season ticket holders.  Last year's home schedule was great and helps to compensate for this year's not-so-great schedule, but you can't farm out all the decent opponents to neutral sites and expect the season ticket holders to keep paying.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^


"But hey, at least DB will get to sit on a big pile of Jerry Jones's money -- or not, depending on how well he negotiates the neutral site deals."

That was a mis-representation of the finances.

As to the season-ticket slate: you're buying a product. If the product is not worth the money to you, it is your option not to purchase the product. If enough people feel likewise, Brandon will know he made a mistake.


April 24th, 2012 at 3:02 PM ^

Said pile also goes directly to Michigan sports to the extent that there is such a pile.*  It's worth remembering that this argument/discussion is about how best to allocate Michigan's resources to Michigan teams.  Dave Brandon isn't going to use Jerry Jones's money to buy himself a yacht, of course. 

*It seems like there's only a baby pile. 


April 24th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

The most difficult part of the reasoning for me is the way Brandon deals with it in public.  Read the below excerpt from the article Brian linked:

"We bring in $4.7 million for this game, and that's how we pay for 29 sports at the University of Michigan," Brandon said Monday. "People don't need to understand how this business works, but how this works is football and to a much, much, much lesser degree, men's basketball, pays the cost of 27 other sports.

"The resources brought in are not profit or extra resources, those are dollars (we need) to spend on other student-athletes, other coaches, other programs. My job is to make sure the resources we bring in are adequate to take care of all of our 865 student-athletes, all of our 29 sports and all of the things that are part of that. That's my job."

Not only does he talk down to people, but he skirts the issue.  I'm no CPA, but I'm pretty sure that he could have listed the band travel expense the same way he lists the team travel expense to ensure that the band's funding is not grouped in with the other AD expenses.  In other words, I'm betting that he could have deducted all football-related expenses from the sum BEFORE passing on the net receipts to the general fund.



April 24th, 2012 at 3:42 PM ^

Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

If I were responsible for funding 27 sports with the revenue from 3, as he is, and I had my integrity, dedication to the school, and person questioned because I either:

a) didn't want to spend $400K on the band going to Dallas

b) wanted someone else to pay for the band going to Dallas

To put this expense in context: The average division 1 Men's lacrosse program has an annual budget of $750K. Is seeing $400k as too much unreasonable? No.

If this blog, the media, and the fans want to respond to the announcement with ad hominem, it's silly to expect further dialogue to have no frustration.


April 24th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

You definitely have a good take on the subject.  And I agree that Brandon was kind of in a no-win situation.  I guess my purpose in the above post is to mention that Brandon had a way to both bring in some revenue for other sports and cover all of the expenses of setting up a full-fledged football experience in Dallas.  He chose to proceed differently than I might choose, which is fine.  And his statement in the press is an obvious attempt as supporting his decision.  But I take offense to his obvious hint that critics are not as intelligent about the situation as he is.  This may or may not be the case, but its a pretty big assumption on his part.  His tone of speech and condescending nature seems to lend itself to attacks (probably like the tone my posts take, unintentionally).



April 24th, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

I'd argue that when the largest Michigan Blog, and likely the most read source for Michigan information on the web, incorrectly diagnoses the financial benefit of the deal, which it's readership swallows and repeats, him feeling like he knows more than everyone is probably justified.

Again: If you look at this deal purely in the frame of a single season, we are making less money than we would by scheduling a home-and-home.

If you expand the lens to two years, we are making MORE money.

The only way we would make MORE money than this would be two schedule body-bags games at home, and forget quality opposition., but I don't think anybody wants that (do they?).


April 24th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

Agreed - Brandon probably did feel justified in his tone when discussing the decision and financial reasoning behind it.  I think what my objection to the decision and decision-making process is that the alternate, more financially challenging (??) decision was the right one to make.  Namely and most importantly being that the band should and needs to be there, expensive or not. 

I think from a financial standpoint he makes a lot of good decisions but I think what many want is a AD that sometimes ignores "good" fiscal reasoning and goes with how it "should" come be, coupled of course with one that is fiscally responsible.  I work in the financial world and deal with this stuff all the time and I guess I wish it wasn't the most important aspect of the one thing that never fails to take me back to my childhood.  I know its not a realistic expectation in today's world of financial challenges in sports but the heart wants what it wants.



April 24th, 2012 at 5:14 PM ^

I think you have a perfectly understandable take on the subject.  We're fans, not stockholders, after all...Also FWIW, Brandon is a little too corporate-y* for my tastes, and I would have preferred for him to just pay for the band to go down to Dallas, but I also try to remember that he ultimately wants Michigan to kick a lot of ass without compromising its core values, so he and I aren't ever that far apart. In this situation, he was being sort of cheap and manipulative re: the band, perhaps, but he was doing it so he'd have $500k to put toward Michigan sports in other ways. 



*Yes, that is a word. 


April 24th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

I was merely making the point that, in theory, Brandon could schedule every game for a neutral site.  He'd lose his home ticket sales and seat licenses, of course, but there's nothing (in theory) to keep him from offsetting that with neutral site revenue.  I was just pointing out the intangible loss to me (and other home Michigan ticket purchasers) from not being able to watch Michigan in person.  You're right, I'm free not to buy the product as it gets more diluted -- but am I not also free to protest that we're starting down that path, before it reaches the point that I no longer want to purchase the product?


April 24th, 2012 at 3:29 PM ^

You don't understand the point of this.

The entire reason this makes financial sense is because it preserves a home game in a future year. Unless you're advocating for MOAR MACrifices, your options were:

A: Neutral Site game

B: Home and Home

I'll give you a clue: We play the same number of home games over the two year span in both scenarios. We shifted the away-portion to a road game.

In other words: he has not turned home games into neutral-site games. He has turned ROAD games into neutral site games.

Unless you're advocating that he only schedule bullshit teams so we never travel.


April 24th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

You're putting zero value on me watching Alabama with my very own eyes at Michigan Stadium.  Maybe you're right, in a purely financial sense -- but maybe not, since it's possible that Michigan takes a long-term hit if they continue to farm out all the games against quality competition to neutral sites.  But thanks for your "I'll give you a clue" condescension -- taking a page out of Brandon's book?


April 24th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

I haven't addressed the value of you watching it with your own eyes because it's outside the scope of what I've objected to.

There is a giant misunderstanding, propogated by Brian, that this isn't profitable It is. End of story. Should that be the only factor? How should it be mitigated by other factors? Reasonable people can disagree.

I would say that Michigan Football tickets are a good. Like any good, you can choose to purchase or not to purchase them based on whether the expense justifies it. If enough people feel that the tickets are not worth the price, Brandon will feel it in the pocketbook. If not,  his actions have clearly not done any tangible harm.


April 24th, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

I probably covered this above but I think what many object to on a personal level is that they know the only way to hit Brandon where it counts is to not buy tickets but that they'll also be hurting themselves by doing so.  In other words, its a sh-tty situation that could (and should?) have been avoided by Brandon so that the fans didn't have to have the personal reaction that they did. 

(I know you already understand this part of the argument and were not discussing this point but I thought it was a good succinct way of summarizing the personal point.)


April 24th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

The reality is that Brandon is not going to make every (or even 2) home game a neutral site game. So, you can rest easy on that front.

This is a one time deal for the Kickoff Classic which is a traditional game played the first week of the season between two national programs at a neutral site.

In that sense, Brandon is not setting a precedent of neutral site games (like ND is.) He just agreed to play in the Kickoff Classic just as USC, PSU, VATech etc have done in the past.

If you want to complain that you'd rather have another home game that's fine. Wait until 2013 and you will get your wish.

I will be enjoying watching Michigan play Alabama.

The FannMan

April 24th, 2012 at 5:42 PM ^

Edit - this was to Chitown

You seem to have thought about this a bit, so let me run this by you - 

Isn't an answer to the home and home problem just to adjust the ticket prices?  I think most people are fine w/ paying more if it means playing good teams regularly on a home and home basis.  You could also spread the cost over both years since people cannot simply drop their tickets every other year.

IIRC, last year's tickets cost 500ish bucks a seat for my two in the corner.  This year they are 400ish per seat.  That's 900 for two years.  I am fine with paying 500 or 600 each year if it meant regularly doing home and homes with top tier programs (doesn't have to be Bama),   I think most season ticket holders are with me.  If Brandon came forward and explained it that way, people would be OK with it. 

My assumption (and belief) here is that season ticket hodlers are the bulk of the crowd.  I also assume that, with a huge wait list,  the AD doesn't want to promote individual game sales and the Visiting Fan Ticket Window (aka Stub-Hub) over the season ticket holders. 



April 25th, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

I think they could, sure.

But the Michigan fanbase has, I think, proven incapable of not being outraged at any major decision. I'm sure that people (not you, but some) would react to "we just raised the price of your ticket to the Alabama game by 75%" with some consternation.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^


  • Brandon will say anything to suit the occasion: No, but he will modify what he says as conditions change. Unlike many, I don't find this offensive. This is how things in the real world happen.
  • Truth be damned: What exactly is "Truth"? How is that determined? Who is its arbiter?
  • "Never about the money": That's not my position (also not my quote). Of course it's about the money, but it's not simply about the money.

I still don't get what there is to complain about.

  • If you're a season ticket holder and you don't like the 2012 slate, give up your tickets. That's your right as a consumer.
  • If you're inclined and you have the disposable income, you have a bowl game-like spectacle to attend (complete with the MMB!).
  • If you primarily watch games on TV, this is bad how?
  • Financially, it's a wash.
  • We're playing the defending national champion on opening weekend in a nationally televised game that will receive the full WWL treatment.
  • Huge upside if Mighigan wins (national rankings), negligible downside if they lose (still can win B1G).


April 24th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

I'm not complaining about this particular game.  The home schedule for this year is weak, but last year's was great, so I'm rolling with it for now.  (Although the future would be looking brighter without the asinine Appy State rematch, but I digress.)

I am complaining, however, about Brandon's tendency to insult the intelligence of his customers.  The "truth," in this instance, is what Michigan could expect to make from a home opener if they weren't playing at Jerryworld.  Once upon a time, Brandon insisted that he got a deal that exceeded this amount.  Now that this appears not to be the case, he says it wasn't "about the money."  I was (loosely) quoting him, not you.  You can view his statements as consistent, but I don't, and I do find it offensive -- that's not how we do things in the "real world" I've inhabited for many years now.


April 24th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

...statement about the "Truth" to be accurate, you have to assume DAB's complete comprehension of all of the factors surrounding the deal at any given time. Since that's not possible, any inconsistencies aren't necessarily based on DAB's untruthfulness or artfulness (not to say that there isn't an element of that in this as well). Those inconsitencies are also based on the inevitable element of information that wasn't available becoming available over time.


April 24th, 2012 at 2:41 PM ^

Except that the $500 is a bit low if we are talking about a family.

4 plane tix from NY to Detroit - $1,200 (if you include all of the fees and taxes)

2 nights in the Campus in x 2 rooms (one for me and wife, other for the kids) - $1,200

Rental Car for wknd - $200

Total cost = $2,600 (assuming comparable ticket prices)

Sure, you miss out on the awesome experience of AA, but just in terms of raw $$, for us east coast M fans, this is a nice way to attend a game at a fraction of the cost.


April 24th, 2012 at 10:35 PM ^

Why not drive and not fly? Right there you save a grand. It's like 8-10 hours. You aren't driving to California.

Also, for two nights you can share one room. Whenever my family stayed in a hotel I slept on an air matress on the ground.

You have every right to fly and rent two rooms but don't then bitch about the costs for doing so.


April 25th, 2012 at 12:03 AM ^

Megabus with the fam, brah.  It'd be like $30 a ticket round trip if you book it now and you get (usually broken) WiFi!  Hell, maybe you, the wifey, and kids can shack up at your old fraternity/co-op/friend-who-never-graduated's apartment and use a Zip car.

Goll-y am I good at economizing, I think Greece wants my services now, I'll be right back.

... ahhh actually it's the entire Eurozone, be back in 12 years once I have everyone in tip top shape. 


April 24th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

From what I recall, there's big time political pressure to keep that game in Connecticut to garner local sales tax revenues and justify the public money that went into building the stadium, rather than shuttling it off to either Foxboro or Giants Stadium, neither of which is particularly close to UConn's campus, or, more to the point, in Connecticut.