Dear Diary Says Show Up Anyway

Submitted by Seth on October 10th, 2014 at 11:33 AM


From left #3, #24, #23. [Fuller]

Come tailgate, support kids. A reminder that you can join us and former players tomorrow at the Go Blue Bowl Tailgate organized by Marlin Jackson's organization (specifically through the efforts of an extraordinary lady named Kat Mills). This is for charity so suggested minimum donation of $5 if you're just coming for the Q&A and more if you plan to drink beer and hang for awhile.

A couple of Marlin's high donors deserve recognition: Huron Valley Financial, the Bank of Ann Arbor, and MDen. Christians Catering is bringing food, and the Beer Grotto in Dexter is providing the beer. Full details at the link.

If you ask me, it's better to go. Everyone wants to do something to demonstrate that Michigan fans are fed up with a director who treats this program like his personal play toy, and that the public who do own this public institution are sick of it being hoarded, and its name besmirched by dishonesty and obfuscation (Best & Worst).

But for the record, I'm not in favor of boycotts, walkouts, late arrivals, or any other form of protest in which the protestors miss a snap, because I think it misses the target while undermining the one thing we all care about the most.

I know after the Minnesota game that Brian called for a boycott of Maryland if Brandon and Hoke were still here, and I know what name's on my paychecks. I know the players aren't made of glass, and that they're well aware that the vitriol toward the people in charge is not directed at them, although they generally take attacks on their coaches personally (they chose them after all).

But I didn't know until fairly recently why it's so important to them that fans show up: To a player, fans equal energy. Human brains are not wired to grant conscious access to the body's full capacity. Put a hungry lion behind the 20th fastest man on the planet and Usain Bolt will be left in his dust. Whatever our expectations for athletes we paid massive sums to see, they cannot escape their own psychology.James Monroe cockade while minister to france

CSG president Bobby Dishell's heart is in the right place, but he's wrong: you're not hurting the players; you're hurting their performance.

Athletes draw motivation from the crowd. Michigan Stadium's size is a huge recruiting tool because an athlete brain understands intuitively that 109,000 shouting faces will get more out of him than 84,000. The number gets in their heads, but empty seats do as well. Go watch September baseball at a bad team's venue long after they've been eliminated: it's crap. Every play that your seat is empty contributes a tiny bit to Michigan (and, coincidentally, their opponent) playing a bit worse.

Weigh that against the maximum that you will realistically move the decision of Mark Schlissel. Your empty seat speaks, but you can also be in that seat screaming "Go!" at Blue to the furthest extent of your vocal capacity whenever they take the field or need a boost, and screaming "Fire Brandon!" whenever he starts trying to blast you. I think we can get that message across while taking a cue from old blue, and using this weekend to show the players we haven't checked out on them. You can make a statement with where you choose to put your ass, but that's hardly the most effective communicative tool in your anatomical package.

Here's what I suggest we do tomorrow: From the moment the band finishes marching off until kickoff chant "Let's Go Blue!" as loud as you fucking can. At the end of the the game, win or lose, stand in your seat and chant "Let's Go Blue!" AS LOUD. AS. YOU. FUCKING. CAN. In between, scream your head off on Penn State 3rd downs, boo the attendance lie, and sprinkle in "Fire Brandon!" as necessary.

Let's leave Hoke alone, since it does us no good if he loses the team now, and his fate is sealed to his record (Ron Utah with some candidate grades) so any more dogging from us is superfluous. ST3 made the case that the coaching staff has cost Michigan perhaps three wins with strategic errors: dumb-punting vs. Utah, starting Shane, and giving Rutgers that end-of-1st-half drive. I think it's more accurate to say that these coaching errors put Michigan at a small strategic disadvantage, and that the team is not so good that it can win without every scrap of advantage it can get.

Yes, showing up and laying off the coach is what Dave Brandon wants you to do. Fuck him; we come to root for Michigan.

[Jump: clans, coaches, etc.]

The clans and their coaches. Remember the clans?

DecaturFierce PragsIn Rod We TrustedLloyd Lyoyalists

RebellionThe 2nd EstateBoclancorduroy jacket patch clanCotton Pickin Blues

Saveferris revisited them four years hence. We got diaries this week from most of these sides.

Ever critical of the Empire, the Rebellion managed to find proof that Michigan was playing a man down on one punt return after a timeout. Yes, it happened. Again. I remember John L. Smith's Spartans having this problem, and that he "solved" it by having a mat with each 11 jersey numbers on it—a friend remarked upon seeing it that this really puts the "special" in "special teams." I don't think it's such a huge deal; it happens way more often than you think.

For the fierce pragmatists, MichAero put together an interesting diary of offensive YPC judged against what the opponents usually give up.


Last year/this year

By this metric the running game is improved; it's the passing game that's inexplicably gone off a cliff.

THE_KNOWLEDGE I guess represents the estate, who have convinced themselves they can keep Brandon and Hoke and make it work out if Urban and Saban come to coordinate.

"CC:" in a thread title stands for "coaching change." It is there so that anyone who doesn't want to discuss that can stay away from it. There were a lot of them. Alum put together a fairly comprehensive update on some coaching candidate targets and how they've been faring. Libertine produced a helpful list of ages. Mark Stoops was added to the pile, as was Gary Patterson.

Etc. A guy took in a Colorado State game for atmospheric comparison. No thanks for the reminder, Joe.

Best of the Board


M-Dog finally put down a list of things fans want changed about out athletic office other than Dave Brandon and his cronies thrown out of it. Shortly:

  • Don't gouge us so blatantly
  • Act like adults when you get in trouble.
  • Treat it like a public institution and stakeholders as people.
  • Transparency and honesty in all things wherever possible.
  • Stand up for tradition.
  • Non-profit in deed, not just name.
  • Include students and general fan representatives in decisions.
  • Don't play ingroups against each other.
    To this I add take your hands off things you don't need to be involved with, specifically local charities with various ties to the university, and things the band does outside of athletic events.


Michigan's Third-Quarter Point Differential vs. Power 5 Schools (Last 8 Games)
Date Michigan 3Q Pts Opponent 3Q Pts
Nov. 16, 2013 Michigan 0 Northwestern 3
Nov. 23, 2013 Michigan 0 Iowa 7
Nov. 30, 2013 Michigan 0 Ohio State 14
Dec. 28, 2013 Michigan 0 Kansas State 0
Sept. 6, 2014 Michigan 0 Notre Dame 7
Sept. 20, 2014 Michigan 0 Utah 7
Sept. 27, 2014 Michigan 0 Minnesota 17
Oct. 4, 2014 Michigan 0 Rutgers 0
Total Michigan 0 Opponent 55

Via MNB, Michigan has been outscored 55-0 in the 3rd quarters of games vs. Power 5 teams, going back to Northwestern last year. I suggest we start a fan movement to change the traditional halftime speech from "Go punch yourself in the face for 15 minutes!" to anything else.


No it's not why Michigan got double-hosed on one ludicrous call, nor is it why the other team got hosed a few times on bad calls, but it's just a fact: Brady doesn't seem to get mad at the refs. Fans want less clap, more Bo. I think this is just a character thing; some coaches lose their shit and some guys have more composure.

ETC. Mullen things from SI and Grantland. Hockey beat some guy named Wilfrid Laurier. Chris video'ed the Countess jam thing I covered in Hokepoints.

Your Moment of Zen:



October 10th, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

It's nice when other writers on here aren't afraid to disagree with Brian.

Also, I happen to agree with your position.

If nothing else, think of how bad it looks for visiting recruits who aren't aware of all the dynamics of the situation.  What they'll see is simple: bad fans, bad support, a bad situation.


October 10th, 2014 at 11:54 AM ^

If recruits aren't aware of the "dynamics of the situation" when it's been a lead story on practically EVERY national news source, sports or otherwise, then do we really want them here? If they're THAT ignorant about the school they may be committing to?


October 10th, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

The lead story is Shane Morris/Concussion or Brady Hoke/Rodriguez or Michigan Sucks. The stuff that an 18 year old kid is reading is not a WSJ article or USA Today editorial from a 70 year old man about how things used to be and ticket prices and PLC licenses and student ticket policies and noodles.  I bet very few recruits know who Dave Brandon even is, with the possible exception of the in-state kids.

I certainly didn't know who the athletic director was when I signed up to go to Michigan.  While I wasn't a scholarship athlete, I also didn't know who the Dean of Engineering was either.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:43 PM ^

You can't just separate it like that. At this point it's all so intertwined there's no way to. And the Diag protest did get coverage outside of Michigan circles so I'd argue your first point is wrong. That said...

Isn't that enough? The Morris situation was botched horribly and THAT got a lot of national play. So did the team's dreadful play this year, and their huge regression under Hoke. Anyone should be able to look at those ALONE and understand why so many fans are upset. Even if the recruits have no idea who Brandon is the performance on the field alone tells a story that explains the anger.


October 10th, 2014 at 1:57 PM ^

I get the issues and I'm not making a pro-Hoke stance here. Fire errrbody.

My point is that the news stories tend to get boiled down to simple headlines.  If you polled people around the country and asked them "what is this protest about?" very few are going to get that it's about the Athletic Director's policies, actions, and general detestibility because that's a wonky local issue. I think you can see from Mgoblog that a lot of alumni (especially out of state) don't think whatever Brandon is doing is that bad  (see: all the "if we were 5-0" arguments). 

Your post, like the whole protest thing, seems like misplaced anger at the football program's general and comprehensive incompetance.


October 10th, 2014 at 1:02 PM ^

First, I am going to the game and don't intend to personally boycott any games.  I can't promise that a poor weather Saturday won't "discourage" me from attending one--when it might not have in past seasons.

That said, I don't have any problem with anyone--particularly the students--protesting in a meaningful way.  If that is boycotting, so be it.  The intent is to get the attention of someone who isn't listening to you.  I particularly endorse the idea of not showing up for the start of the game--leaving seats conspicuously empty.  Then, once there, cheering this team and these players on---hard.  And, if possible, our Michigan students finding a clever and distinctive way to make further known their unhappiness with our AD.

Chunks the Hobo

October 10th, 2014 at 12:01 PM ^

I agree with you on this. My ass will be there cheering (with appropriately low expectations). Hopefully after having fortified myself with beers at the MGoTailgate first. (Yay, Beer Grotto!)

Edit: Some may argue the sound of an ass cheering would be rather flatulent, but it's, like, a synecdoche, man.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:02 PM ^

Athletes draw motivation from the crowd. Michigan Stadium's size is a huge recruiting tool because an athlete brain understands intuitively that 109,000 shouting faces will get more out of him than 84,000.

That's great... Except we've all seen these teams lay a colossal egg in front of full, energetic stadiums before. I'm not going to deny that home field advantage is a real thing, but it's an extra push over the edge. We're so far from that edge I can't blame anyone who chooses to boycott or not go at all.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:01 PM ^

God, imagine how flat they would have been against Miami, Utah, and Minnesota if what fans showed up hadn't.  If they had to siphon energy from the fans to reach that level of energy and performance, they may have passed out en masse on the sideling with a 2/3rds full stadium.

Every week, we hear about how hard they worked in practice when no one was there, and how it didn't translate to the field when everyone was there.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:02 PM ^

I agree with everything said here.  Boycotts at sporting events never seem to work, and more times than not come across as misguided.  I know Brian is fond of saying "Support the Troops" isn't a claim, and that players are supposed to know that the fans support them by not coming to the games and calling for their HC to be fired.  But that's pretty disingenuous in my opinion; fans act like they make a distinction between disliking the coaches and supporting the players, but then you'll read and hear people call out players for being weak, stupid, careless, etc.  And as you noted, fans equal energy, and players at home sure do like knowing that the home fans want to see them win.  Sitting in your dorm and apartment watching the game and thinking "ha, this will send a message to the president to fire a guy I don't like" is only half-true; it also tells the players that you don't really care about them, or at least not enough to cheer them on and still send emails, call offices, hold rallies, whatever to erect change.  It's "I don't want to spend money watching a loser" wrapped up in high-minded ideals.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

In what world did Dave Brandon recruit players to Michigan?  

Brandon may or may not be an arrogant prick (I'm leaning toward the prior), but if Michigan was 4-2 instead of 2-4 this boycott movement would absolutely not be happening.  Doesn't mean they wouldn't still be annoyed with Brandon and his antics, but to the average fan the anger is directed toward the losing as much as anything awful about the administration.


October 11th, 2014 at 12:56 AM ^

I guess we just disagree and that's fine. One should not have to physically be in the stadium to be considered a true fan. We all are still following this team dispite it seeming to be folly. I hope we pull it out to tomorrow and start fulfilling on some of this potential.

It would be a lot easier if I thought our team is composed of a bunch of scrubs. Most if not all of these players have a lot of potential and it is for that reason I am so disappointed in the play to date. If they were maximizing their talent and playing their best I would not be as disappointed because by definition they are doing everything possible and using their g-d given talent.

Anyway, it's fine to disagree and do enjoy your major contributions to this community.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:48 PM ^

Because then basically all you accomplished was make the kickoff look empty, which to most people just looks like students who partied too hard an arrived late.

Either show up or don't; that at least makes a statement either way.  This BS about walking out part-way or coming in late is just the laziest of stances to take.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

Man, I feel really bad for Hoke. He is not handling the pressure well. I hope for his sake whatever happens the rest of the year, he ends on a high note and can be politely asked to resign with his dignity intact. He is not evil. He bleeds maize and blue. He cares as much as someone could care about Michigan football, his players, and most importantly things that go well beyond footbal. He just cannot handle the job anymore. It may be unpopular to say this, but I'm going to root for the whole TEAM, Hoke included, to beat Penn State. They all desperately need a boost to salvage the season. It scares me that 2-10 is a realistic possibility (if you think things are bad now, imagine how bad we'd look at can always get worse), so I hope to God that Hoke can rebound and get his team to a respectable bowl-eligible finish.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

I hope we win every game the rest of the year. I think everyone on here would be happy about that. It wouldn't change the fact that Dave Brandon should already be gone. It'd probably save Hoke. 

As negative as I've been, I've truly thought we'd win every single game we played this year. I've predicted a win each time. I'll try a reserve jinx and say Penn State 34-10. 


October 10th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

"a mat with each 11 jersey numbers on it"

At the Rutgers game, they had a mat with the numbers 1-10 and an M on it. I wondered if it was for this kind of purpose. But then the team never actually seemed to use it, so I have no idea what it was there for.