Fickle Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2013 at 12:51 PM


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

You? You've got a buyout.

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

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

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



November 26th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

A significant amount of the content on this blog including Brian's comments above are akin to booing. Brian boos the players every week in his UFRs. He needs to take his own advice and just stop being a fan and shut down the blog. Of course he would have to start wearing pants more regularly and ease up on the snarky attitude so he could find other employment (how likely is that?).

Brian - Do everyone a favor (especially yourself) and stay home Saturday. Heck, you could even blog about what you did instead.


November 26th, 2013 at 8:00 PM ^

I'm talking about people that do boo. They suck.

I think you misinterpreted what i wrote and perhaps I wasn't clear enough. Phone, swype keyboard, grumble grumble.

I'm agreeing with Brian, only making the distinction that fans stay behind the program and players, even if the coaches are in line for criticism, which he has every right to all means, I am on exactly the same page with the state of things. I'm not at all happy with the coaching, I wasn't happy with the hire to begin with TBH, all I'm trying to say here is that people should focus their criticism (richly deserved) on well paid coaches, but still back the players......go to games, watch games, etc., b/c the kids, like DG, are out there giving it their all....not quitting.

I DO think it is fickle to abandon a whole program/team just b/c they lose. Analyze, criticize, whatever..all you want, just don't leave the players with an empty quiet stadium...that won't help anything. 

As such...I don't hold as much issue with Hoke's regard for people that would quit on the players than i do with the repeated laying of blame on the players....because it either means he is okay with throwing them under a bus, or doesn't really seem to get that they aren't at fault....not sure which is scarier.

rob f

December 1st, 2013 at 4:12 AM ^

due my own smart-a**edness in posting a reply to this:

"BOUJE13: You're a f****** idiot And I am saying this POLITELY.

Brian isn't tweeting the players, he's not shoving this down their throat. He is posting his ANALYSIS on the Internet . He's not booing all the players some get pluses some get minuses .

In sum GET F*****  " 

...I find myself somehow time-transported to the front of The Blog On The Edge Of Forever even though I swear I stayed well away from The Guardian



November 26th, 2013 at 8:06 PM ^

really apply here. 

Person that pays to see games, even lots of games that goes as long as the team wins, but boos and walks out and stops coming = Person that pays to see games, even lots of games that goes as long as the team wins, but boos and walks out and stops coming

Fan = someone that comes to games and cheers their team/program whether they are good or bad, winning or losing. Perhaps analyzes the games in excruciating detail, perhaps calls out coaches for poor decision making, poor strategy, perhaps assesses player production with perhaps charts and graphs. Never boos. Come back following week, cheers.

Being a fan means you support your team whether it wins or loses. You stop supporting the team when it does not represent what you want am program to be, i.e. Miami (YTM) back in the day. I'd be the first to drop support for the program if became one fraught with off-the-field trouble and low character players. Losing doesn't make me want to walk away. It makes me a sad panda, but not a quitter.

That does not mean you are blind to things and accept everything either...FWIW, I wasn't happy with the hire, certainly not happy with the coaching now, however I'm still going to cheer until they somehow turn M footbal into something it is not. 

That is college football, a somewhat enjoyable pastime having little to do with human suffering (yes, okay...some, but not dire) and forcible oppression. 

Fascism, on the other hand.....


November 26th, 2013 at 9:38 PM ^

Your definition of fandom is absolutely valid- and held by many people. But it creates no motivation for Brandon to improve the program at all. It is similar to victimization. This is why I feel nothing strong about this issue- fans are choosing to be victims by paying money for games and should take responsibility for this decision. Complaining seems out of place- just don't pay the money. If you want to support the athletes buy them dinner.


November 27th, 2013 at 11:37 AM ^

While I will always cheer Michigan on, if anything WERE going to dampen my enthusiasm and cause me to detach, it would be the corporate-ish, money grubbing changes to the gameday experience. I grew up going to all the home games throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s before moving to California and now when i come back for games, hate the RAWK music, the ads, the more homogenous pro-ish feel to the whole thing. Hate it.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

How Tone-Deaf can Hoke be?

My only hope for this offseason is that Businessman-Brandon realizes how much fans hate Borges and forces Hoke to fire him and hire a sexy young OC.  This may not be a realistic dream, but I have hope Damnit!


November 26th, 2013 at 10:15 PM ^

and that OC produced another miserable season, would Hoke be off the hook?

I say this not at all to defend even-more entitlement minded Borges.

I say we're invested in Hoke and need to see if his recruiting can bring the team back to the level the $$$ support demands.  And whether or not Hoke goes w/ Borges, in two years it won't matter.  We better have a damn strong team by then or Hoke gets let go.  No hiding behind Borges (even though Al casts a large shadow.)


November 26th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

1. This is very well written.

2. It was $48 to go to a game in 1910?!  You'd have to take a loan out on your mule to go to a game at that price if you weren't a Vanderbilt.

3. Hoke sees his guys working hard every day, so I can sympathize with being defensive in response to the question.  It would have been nice to hear him say that he can understand why people are unhappy, though.  He obviously sees winning as important, so I'm not sure why he'd expect anything else from the fans. 


November 26th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

Not at all the same. 

Rodriguez said "You almost want to tell people to get a life" when they are lobbing personal attacks at players or coaches for poor performances. Basically, something that everyone agrees with but was misrepresented by a media that disliked him immensely. 

Hoke is questioning the fandom of people who don't want to spend a lot of money to watch their team get beat by their biggest rival for the what, 10th time in 11 years? And why do they feel like we have no chance? Because the product that he (namely due to his offensive staff) has made that the inevitable feeling. 

Rodriguez called fans out for being deranged. Hoke is calling fans out for being tired of high ticket prices and a mediocre product that he's helped create. 


November 26th, 2013 at 5:42 PM ^

If I understand correctly, you are rightly blaming the mediocre record of our team this year on the offense.  And, you pinpoint the offensive staff.  So, I'll assume that you, like so many people here, are really tring to say you want Borges and Funk fired because we don't have a better record. 

Another way to look at the same facts, might be to say that Michigan has lost games to MSU and (name another team here) definitively.   Every other game was winnable.  Hell, we should have beaten PSU, Nebraska and Iowa.  Poor play doomed us in those games.   If we were 10-1 right now, would you be screaming? 

Do we have a problem?  Yes, we have a very serious depth problem.  We are starting too many freshman or inexperienced players in key positions.  I'm as pissed as anyone, but try to put on my sane glasses before I post about our coaches or players. 

The bottom line is that this year's team is inexperienced and hasn't learned as fast as we'd hoped.  Why does that give you, or anyone, the balls to question a staff whose worst year is better than the best year of the prior regime?   Maybe, just maybe, there is something to be said for being in every game this year save for one until the end with such incredible inexperience at quarterback, o-line, and running back. 

Go Blue!  Beat Ohio!


November 26th, 2013 at 7:03 PM ^

Good coaches do two things as far as the players currently on the team:

1) Put them in a position to succeed.

2) Coach 'em up, to borrow a cliche.  You should see players getting better as a season/their careers progress.

Now on defense, we generally see both of those, and when they fail at #1, like that fourth down where we were playing stupidly far off, Mattison says that's his fault and points to specifics.  But mostly guys are put in a position where they can do well, and you almost always see guys getting better (aka the Heininger Certainty Principle, but also, say, Raymon Taylor or JT Floyd going from Worse than Johnny Sears to serviceable but not athletic enough to stay with the real stud WRs).

This does not happen on offense.  I can't think of anyone who left better than when Hoke/Borges arrived.  And they're not put in position to succeed, and Borges doesn't admit error easily.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

I don't understand. Every time Hoke says or does something someone "imagines" or "wonders" what would have happened if RichRod did the same.


The press treated RichRod terribly. This has been exhaustively discussed. I am unaware of anyone still denying this. RichRod also sucked at dealing with the press. This also has been exhaustively discussed. Even John U. Bacon, chief RichRod apologist, acknowlegdes this.

Is it your wish that the press treat Hoke just as badly?

Why would that be good?

Yeah. It happened and it sucked. It wasn't fair and it sucked. And it was 3 years ago.

Why do you all want to keep talking about how much it sucked.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 26th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I don't have a dog in this fight, but if I did Imight say something like "I'll stop saying things like that (three years after the fact) when people stop blaming what we are seeing on the field on what RR did (three years after the fact)".

I agree with one thing you say...If people were outraged at the way RR was treated (which I was) they shouldn't want his successor treated that way just so they can feel better. I really wanted RR to get another 2 years but I got behind Hoke pretty quickly once the decision was made, and to be honest, who the coach of this team is doesn't matter a shit to me, so long as they do a good job.

It doesn't make sense to hate on (or wish bad things for) Brady Hoke just because you supported RR and thought he wasn't given a fair shake. It isn't his fault he embodies what the more influential people in the program view as a head football coach at UM. Whether the media or fans mistreat BH isn't going to change the past, but it would definitely impact the future if all our coaches received the same treatment RR did. That environment wouldn't be good for anyone associated with the program. 

Section 1

November 26th, 2013 at 5:11 PM ^

I refuse to fall prey to being as unfair to Hoke as so many were to Rodriguez.

If Hoke wants to farm the offense out to an assistant, I think that's fine.  But fire that OC if it isn't working.  Like Rodriguez fired Shafer (and as I expect he'd have fired Greg Robinson before the 2011 spring practices).


November 26th, 2013 at 10:22 PM ^

It's in our best interests to give him another two years to see how his recruits pan out.  But after five years, enough time to demonstrate to the next coach that he'll get a fair shot, if we aren't a damn strong team, then it's time to move on.  No matter who is OFC.

Section 1

November 26th, 2013 at 5:14 PM ^

The press treated RichRod terribly. This has been exhaustively discussed. I am unaware of anyone still denying this.


...I think there is wide agreement with what you say.  Rodriguez was treated brutally by the press.  And some others too.  That has become well known at, and probably because of, this blog.

I'm not so sure how much widepsread knowledge there is outside of this blog.

There is a member here, "Reader 71" who is a former Michigan football player; under Schembechler and Moeller if I am not mistaken.  He is a very intelligent and well-informed guy.  Ask him about the Freep debacle with Rodriguez and I think he'll confirm that he and his fellow football letterwinners knew very little about the blog's scathing criticism of the Freep, and Rosenberg, and the myths and narratives that the Freep created, outside of their occasional reading of MGoBlog.  I think a considerable number of them never looked at MGoBlog at all.  Ask him about this.  I don't want to mischaracterize him.


November 26th, 2013 at 8:13 PM ^

A large contingent of the fanbase jumped on everything he did and said and imbued it with a level of significance completely disproportionate to the actual words or deeds.

Those fans...AND the press worked together in that, to what extent inside or ex staffers did...who knows?

The point is, were the same 'forces' applying the same or even similar criteria in assessing Hoke then the same maelstrom would ensue when he makes statements such as calling fans fickle.

Dog willing Hoke plays some Josh Groban at a banquet and we can compare apples to apples.

I'm not saying we should treat Hoke the same way, far from it, but it is interesting to many, myself inluded, to compare notes about the apparent double standard at work.


November 27th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

he was run out of town too early. I firmly believe he would have had many had he been given more time and supported with a proper DC. 

TBD whether Hoke will have another one. Keep in mind his came during a very fortunate year for scheduling and a low point got he Big 10. The team has gotten a lot worse under his watch. 




November 27th, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

make it a habit of comparing reality to fantasy?  You can firmly believe anything you want, but reality is that your favorite HC of Arizona had a losing record at Michigan.  The reality is that after three years Hoke's worst season will be at least as good as RR's best season.  And, how that must gall you. 


November 26th, 2013 at 2:27 PM ^

it is painful to watch the double-standard at work here....RR would have been crucified 10 times over for doing the same type of things. 

almost as painful as watching AZ soundly beat Oregon and wondering what would have become of RR+Mattison (or another $600K/year DC) after a few years....sigh. 


November 26th, 2013 at 7:50 PM ^

the DC he did hire was fairly green and middling at best, but with the budget at hand for a DC at Michigan being far below the norm that was what was available. 

Now take the DC and hand him an extremely young and inexperienced pool of defensive players with gaping holes at certain positions and voila! You have a mess.

I would totally agree with you that one of RR's major failings as HC was to try and force the 3-3-5 on a DC not familiar with it and a defense not really able to support it. In hindsight, he should have left poor-enough alone and not ended up with GERG, who should always be referred to as death knell.

Do remember that RR was damned if he did and damned if he didn't with respect to meddling with a poorly performing defense. You can fault him for meddling, but try to imagine a beleaguered head coach under an immense amount of pressure to improve/win and were he to do nothing and leave the defense solely to the DC, he would have been roundly crucified for taking that path as well,  especially since the defense wasn't actually likely to improve much without recruiting and time being part of the equation. Run on sentences, how I do love thee. 

I believe his insistence on the 3-3-5 was simply an attempt to try as much as possible to mitigate the personnel problems in the same way they did at WVU, only it really never worked at M.



November 27th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

Can we please dispense with the meme that only Brady Hoke's folksy charm and charisma could've lured Greg Mattison back to Michigan to take over as DC?  Their relationship from back in the 90's might have gotten Hoke's foot in Mattison's door, but it was Michigan's checkbook that opened it.  I'm guessing that if we'd given Rodriguez a 4th year and he went to see Greg Mattison with $750K in a briefcase, I'm pretty sure Greg would've let him in his office to listen to his proposal.


November 27th, 2013 at 11:43 AM ^

It certainly is eye-brow raising to have Hoke supporters trotting out "our team is young and inexperienced" as the principal excuse for this year's disappointing performance.  A reasonable analysis to be sure and one that was completely rejected by the True Blues of the fanbase 4 years ago.

What could've been had we been more patient with the program's development under Rodriguez is pretty much a moot point at this juncture.  That horse is beyond dead.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

I feel the complaints about having to watch this team. I do, because I watch it every week.

But as a non-alum and non-season-ticket-holder, I've been paying well into the hundreds to go to games since 1999. $250 for end zones to ND '03, I believe.

The athletic department doesn't set the demand. The people do, because the program has had an unheard-of level of consistent success for 40 years. (Our highs aren't as high, yes, but the consistent level of competitiveness has been great.)

If you've had season tickets all this time, you are WAY, WAY ahead of the game.

Don't sell your ticket to the most important game of the season just because you don't like the offensive coordinator. Sack up.

The people who are doing this ARE fickle. Fuck 'em.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

the market sets the price.  if tickets were $100K a game, very few people would go.  there is a point where tickets are TOO much.  but we aren't there.  and DB sees it as his job to make the most money on tickets.

i think what rubs me the wrong way is the way he's going about it.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

I completely agree that if Michigan were 10-1 or 9-2, and fans thought the program was on the right track, people would 'demand' to the tickets at prices Brandon is setting. That's the assumption he used when he "dynamically" priced them (though as Brian notes, only priced them one way -- up).

However, he (and many other ADs) have priced for near-perfection. They've built palaces that people only fill at $100+ a pop if the team is very good. If the team is 7-4 (and looked ugly doing it) or 5-6 or 4-7 or etc, it's not worth their time and money.

I mean, go look at the UF/GSU game last week. I saw the "highlights" and I did a double-take -- the Swamp looked like a home Wake Forest game.

There's a market correction coming -- and it's in 2014.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^


The athletic department doesn't set the demand. The people do...



Don't sell your ticket to the most important game of the season just because you don't like the offensive coordinator. Sack up.


Re-read your two statements and do the math: by dumping tickets (or not buying tickets), people lower the demand for tickets. Hopefully, you can figure out the rest.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

There are at least two different markets:  the market for original purchase of tickets from the Athletic Department (including season tickets) and the secondary market (e.g. StubHub).  They are obviously not entirely unrelated, but they are different.  The first market is what the AD feels directly about how much it can charge for original tickets.  The second market fluctuates more wildly.

A sell off of OSU tickets might have some effect on the AD (although not really, because next year's season ticket prices have been set).  People turning in their season tickets next year because there are only six home games without any premium games will have a much larger effect.

You are criticizing two statements for not adding up.  However, they address two different markets, not the same market, so your criticism is overstated.