Fickle

Submitted by Brian on November 26th, 2013 at 12:51 PM

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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.

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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.

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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.

Comments

CompleteLunacy

November 26th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

got us to 7 wins.

In contrast, one of the worst offenses Michigan has seen in a good long while has gotten us to...

7 wins.

But...FIRE EVERYBODY! DONT SAY NOT NICE THINGS EVER! RR GOT SKEWERED THAT ONE TIME BY THE MEDIA AND IT WAS NOT FAIR SO LETS SKEWER HOKE BECUASE NOBODY ELSE WILL!!!

I'm sorry, this blog is starting to rub me a very very wrong way lately.

Shop Smart Sho…

November 26th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

We all knew why that great offense got us only 7 wins.  The defense was a tire fire and wasn't going to get better.  A lot of people wanted the AD to step in and tell Rodriguez to get a new DC and let him coach what he was comfortable with.

This offense has let us have 7 wins, and we think we know where the blame should lie.  I don't see a lot of people calling for Hoke to go, but for the AD to step in and tell him to get an OC that knows how to run the offense that Hoke wants.

The big difference is that Borges comes across as the smart guy who can never admit he is wrong about anything, whild Gerg just seemed like a schmoe thrust into a bad position.  If Borges didn't come across as so arrogant and stubborn, there would probably be a little less hate directed towards him.

bronxblue

November 26th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

This offense is bad by comparison; RR's defenses were bad in totality.  I mean, this offense can't run the ball worth a damn without some wonkiness, but those RR defenses were tire fires to the nth degree.

And by the way, you may not like the blog but that is probably because this team isn't playing well and there are only so many ways to not freak out about a team going 1-6 to close out the season.  

CompleteLunacy

November 26th, 2013 at 8:36 PM ^

And the team hasn't gone 1-6. Yet.

See...to me, there may not be a lot of hope for Saturday, but as long as there's a game being played I still have hope that michigan will win. I had hope in the 2008 game against OSU. It's part of being a fan. The fickleness is just plain giving up on them just because they don't live up to your expectations. You can complain about Hoke said...but it's not like he was totally off-base with his comments (like how RR wasn't either). It's not like he publicly cursed out his fanbase after a win like a certain Bo Pelini did recently.

 And for all the self-loathing around here lately, this team is still going to wind up being no worse than RR's best season here (in terms of wins and losses, at least). 

So, there is plenty of reason to be upset with how things have looked this year. I'm fucking pissed off too. Even though I have been one of guys preaching patience with borges (as much as he has been terrible this year), I would happily embrace it if Hoke fired him. But there's only so much negativity and "FIRE XXXX" BS and nitpicking one word out of a presser I can take before it just gets to be way overboard. I mean, for fuck's sake, there are some (very few, but still, some) posters here who think a win would be the worst thing Michigan can do on Saturday! That's plain ridiculous.

I want Michigan to win so damn badly, just so people will shut up and stop bitching so damn much about things they can't control. 

bronxblue

November 26th, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

But spread isn't just the playcalling - it's tempo, it's about exploiting weaknesses at key positions, its about running a small number of plays out the same formations but doing so with subtle wrinkles that allow you to surprise the defense.

Yes, OSU runs a certain type of spread with Hyde that they didn't run as much last year.  And next year, when Hyde is gone, they'll probably run a slightly different one as well.  The difference compared to UM is that Borges is basically trying to run the same offense he's tried for 3 years with very limited success.  There are very few constraints, adaptations, really any logic beyond "I'm doing what I'm doing." in the playcalling, and that is infuriating.  I agree people use "spread" as a buzzword, but the OP also acted like the offense NW runs is the defintion of the word.

gbdub

November 26th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

A thousand times this. This is not the NFL. If we were playing in a dilapidated stadium and the players were doing bake sales to raise money for jerseys without holes and new, less rusty scrap metal to bench press, then "we really need to increase revenue this year (and every year in perpetuity)" would be valid.

But when it's "we need to double the PSD and charge you $500 for the privilege of maybe getting the chance to buy overpriced season tickets because Alabama has a waterfall in their locker room and it's just not fair that our field hockey scout team has anything less",  it gets a little harder to justify. Michigan athletics are supposed to be about something more than maximizing the salary of the department employees and maximizing the luxuriousness of the facilities for non-revenue sports. I don't think the current leadership really considers that balance.

AnthonyC

November 26th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

I'm only going because Saturday will be my last game as a season ticket holder and I want to Enjoy the view one last time.  I'm also looking forward to saying goodbye to some of the folks that I've sat near for a long time but as I am writing this I've realized they're probably smarter than I am and will have sold their tickets.  Oh well.  I can only hope all the OSU fans aren't too awful.

Its going to be miserable.  Those who stayed are chumps!

Chunks the Hobo

November 26th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

Yeah, I was trying to remember what I paid for season tickets as a student just 20 years ago, and I seemed to recall it was like $25 per. Adjusted for inflation, that'd be about $40 today, which is half of what the average face value is nowadays.

One thing Brian didn't really get into is that 20+ years ago when I was a student, we had nonconference games like Washington State, Oklahoma State, Florida State (who whipped our ass), whereas today we get the likes of Eastern Michigan, Delaware State, and Akron (who almost whipped our ass).

So not only has the cost gone up well above the rate of inflation, the product has been watered down, not only in terms of the competition brought in, but in terms of Michigan's ability to actually win even against shit teams. I mean, the best game on next year's home schedule is... Slippery Rock.

If I actually paid for season tickets, instead of bartering with friends who do for individual games, I'd be plenty more peeved about all of this, too. Hoke, whose main strength it's often said is that he "gets Michigan," chose his words poorly there, no doubt.

Maized n Confused

November 26th, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

Is like an old dog that, for mercy's sake, is just begging to be put down. I've been watching this dog limp around for the past month and now my pity for the team is turning into contempt. My contempt is not directed at the players (though they have often been out-executed), but for the offensive coaches, who so often put them in position to fail. I admire the players for how they've handled their disappointment - I'll be cheering for them on Saturday. Go Blue!

bronxblue

November 26th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

I totally agree with the general sentiment here, but I think the reason we are seeing fewer sellouts and less fan appreciation isn't so much the product on the field as the general uptick in choices/"sophistication" of the fans.  I mean, Alabama is the defending MNC and one of the most dominant teams in recent memory, yet they still have decent no-shows against mediocre opponents.  They have this issue because people aren't stuck with 2 movies, 3 tv stations, and a couple of stations on the radio dial; I have 14 HBO channels, and I got the starter package!  People have TV, internet, video games, streaming movies, Pintrest boards, LOLCatz, whatever to keep them occupied, so watching a boring blowout in 30-degree weather isn't anyone's idea of a good time.

And let's be honest - UM is nothing more than a middling B1G team in this game, and so if you are OSU and you are two games and a DA in Florida away from an MNC shot, why wouldn't you jump in your IROC and head north to storm a hated rival's stadium?  Heck, you'll be able to watch the blowout, grab some nice food, maybe stop at Cabella's on the way home, and still have time to masturbate in a public library.  Hoke has lots of problems and they start with the same prehistoric views of the offense that led him to retain Borges despite ample evidence it wasn't working out, but I guess "fickle" is just a nice way of saying "unwilling to watch an ass whooping."  He's telling the truth to an extent, and some of that is on him and some of that is just the reality of the sport landscape in general.

The pricing doesn't help, though I do think much of that is an NCAA issue, not just UM.  And to be frank, MSU is going to lose maybe 3 games all year and they can't fill half that stadium most games,  UM at least has the fanbase that will support the cost.  And while "dynamic pricing" sounds great, name we one semi-popular service that truly saves people money in this way.  People like money, and as long as you are willing to hand it over they aren't going to turn it down even if they might dress up the name.

 

matty blue

November 26th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

i have to say, i couldn't give two craps less about what brady hoke says about his football team or staff in a press conference.  i don't believe, as many apparently do, that his demeanor is the same in the locker room, or that his unwillingness to go all mike gundy at the podium is some sort of betrayal.  the people that do believe that are, in my humble opinion, batshit, monkeyballs crazy.  also stupid.

anyway - the use of "fickle" is really off-putting.  it implies that the reason michigan fans might choose to not spend a couple hundred bucks each watching his crappy football team is because they have better "entertainment options," or some such.  this isn't some goddamn sitcom, brady.  a lot of us really care about this, probably unhealthily so.  don't minimize our choices as mere whim.  the people that are giving up their tickets are, in all likelihood, feeling really shitty about it.

by the way, dave brandon - this is thanksgiving weekend, and a lot of kids are going home.  if you think the student section looked like shit earlier this season, just wait.  the sight of a bunch of red shirts in that corner is going to look really bad on tv.  but hey, tv rights.  congrats on the upcoming men's ballroom dancing team.

 

 

mrkid

November 26th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

Hoke is 100% right. Fans are fickle. People are fickle. If by some miracle Michigan wins this Saturday, the boards would explode with a lot of very happy fans. A lot of the fans who were so pissed last Saturday, claiming they're done and will not watch another game but yet they will be elated and talking about how great this is. The exact definition of fickle.
 
You're attacking Hoke like he has something to do with the ticket prices. It's like getting mad at the director of a movie because of the ticket price at your local theater. You're mad at the product that you're paying for (rightfully so) and Brady Hoke has something to do with that. However, if you aren't fickle, then go to the game and show your loyalty, show your affection for your team.
 
You're bitching like the prices are Hoke's problem. Hoke's problem is the product on the field but its quite obvious this team is working extremely hard and the results just aren't there. Be mad about that but don't put the prices on him.
 
And fans are fickle. See the board on this site.

wile_e8

November 26th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

While the ticket prices aren't Hoke's fault, they still are more a factor in the sea of red that's about to happen than fans being fickle. It's an awful lot of money to pay to watch a poor product (and that part is Hoke's fault). So instead of just blaming the fans for not showing up, it might be nice if he mentioned his part in why fans don't want to pay the exhorbitant prices his boss set.

mrkid

November 26th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

Do you think it's smart of a head coach to say to his group of young men that have been working extremely hard all year long "Yeah, this team sucks. And I am to blame for some of that. So I understand why fans won't be showing up".

That's not a leader and not something a head will ever say. You have to be realistic here. I understand thats what we want to hear, but come on man. Be realistic about the politics of being a head coach and the players who have worked extremely hard.

wile_e8

November 26th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

While I don't think he should say that exactly, this is a coach who repeatedly says that anything short of of a Big Ten championship is a failure of a season at Michigan. I don't think it's too hard to acknowledge the poorly coached team playing a role in the fan apathy in terms that sound worse than that.

gbdub

November 26th, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

Here's what he could say instead: "Well, I believe Michigan has great, loyal fans - we couldn't do what we do without them. I hope they'll all turn out and give our seniors a great sendoff, I know we'll play our hearts out for them".

Or even better, "Well, the fans are a key part of this program, heck they pay my salary and feed my family. I'm gonna work my ass off to make sure I prepare this team and give those fans something they can be proud to cheer for".

Instead it's "Well, screw those guys, not my problem".

mrkid

November 26th, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

Your statement is implying that people believe he isn't working his ass off or that the team isn't playing their hearts out every week.

Everyone on this board agrees that this team and Hoke is working extremely hard this year but for whatever reason, it isn't working. Making a statement like that is pointing out the obvious, which Hoke gets nailed for week in and week out.

He can't win. I don't know why every coach doesn't take the pissed off Dantonio approach and just "one word answer" every question.

gbdub

November 26th, 2013 at 3:18 PM ^

I didn't imply that at all. Remember, in this hypothetical I'm Hoke trying to brush off the concern that people aren't showing up. Basically, I'm saying "It's fair for the fans to expect success, I recognize the sacrifices they make to come out and support us, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be worthy of that support".

Saying "I'm gonna work my butt off" isn't saying "I haven't worked my butt off".

Anyway, either route is better than saying, "well, that's a character flaw of fans that we just have to live with"

bronxblue

November 26th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

I don't disagree with your general argument because, yes, Brady Hoke doesn't set the ticket prices directly.  But let's not ignore the fact his staff gets paid millions of dollars, said millions coming from the increased cost of attending the games he is supposed to coach competently at.  I mean, the CEO of a company isn't always directly responsible for the pricing of his product, but his salary (and other benefits) typically are tied to the quality and price of those products in the marketplace.

bronxblue

November 26th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Yes, but the product on the field (should) have a direct result on how much those tickets cost.  In the free market we are told exists for competitive sports, the weak should not be rewarded with money and fame.  Yet here, the team is going to win fewer games than it did the year before for the 3rd straight season and I don't see the cost going down. 

But anyway, I think we are largely in agreement about the fact that how much I pay for tickets isn't mandated by Hoke and that really isn't his problem.

UMForLife

November 26th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

It seems like you took one word or a sentence and made an article out of it. This is a great article when AD created the new model for season ticket holders.

I understand your frustration with ticket prices and agree with you also.

But, he is not talking about ticket prices or at least I don't think so. Hoke has no control over the ticket price. May be it would have made us all happy, if he would have said that "we stink and our ticket prices are too high. We should be giving the money back to ticket holders". There was no good answer for that question.

He walked into a trap and sounds emotional about seeing too much Red in the stadium. But that word does not need this article. AD does when Al Borges stinks it up again and still gets another year to bring us down further.

Just may be....

oldtimer68

November 26th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

Agree with you. I am so fed up I would like to see the entire staff dumped if a top coach is available. As a minimum the offensive staff needs to go. The reality is Hoke is aside from recruiting, at best a middle of the coach in the Big Ten and although I think he is a great person, that alone will not win games. I see little chance that we can approach being a leader in the conference with this staff. I am paying big bucks for a product that is non competitive , that makes me stupid as well as disappointed.

ituralde

November 26th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

In any other context, I'd be agreeing with Hoke, and that you stand out there and support your team /especially/ when things are bad.  

But not like this.  

When Dave Brandon and the Atheletic department made this about the money with the insane ticket pricing, they undermined that undying loyalty we might have otherwise had.  

We aren't new york city, we are Michigan.  

We are the hard working heart of America. We are a land of people who do the jobs that aren't flashy enough for the east coast and not stylish enough for the west coast.  We stood at the front lines of the economic depression that hit us harder than any other state of the union, and even as our core industry was faced with bankruptcy and bailout, the production lines still built cars even as the banks kicked our friends and families out of their houses.  

We get what loyalty is. The best sports fans in America are in this state.   I've never been any place more intense than a red wings playoff game.  Tigers fans turn Comerica park into someplace magical, in a way the Yankees couldn't reproduce in the bronx.  Lions fans file down to Ford Field every home sunday and every thanksgiving despite over 50 years of continual futility.  

My first game at the big house was The Horror.  

I was there in the frigid rain as we capped the 2008 home season with a loss to Northwestern.  

I was there in 2009 listening to the sea of red in the big house chant O-H-I-O for hours as we fell victim yet again to a superior buckeye team.  

I love this team, and hope we somehow magically win against Ohio State, but seriously would never pay face value to see this game.  Jacking up the price for this game takes advantage of our fandom, while the program fails to deliver an elite caliber team.  If the program wants to charge that kind of money, then maybe they need to deliver a product on the field that backs it up, else they can enjoy OSU fans subsidizing the experience.

It's not being fickle when you are talking about a significant amount of many local fans' budget on the table.  

maznblu

November 26th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

I still think that if the tickets were free, you would still have a lot of OSU fans at the game.  You can hear it in the comments on this site.  People don't want to watch Michigan get pummeled by OSU.

I think the pricing is just a rationalization for the fair-weathered-ness of the fans.

Yes, Brian is right about the prices.  Yes, Hoke is right about fickle fans.

I'd argue that they are two separate issues.

PrincetonBlue

November 26th, 2013 at 4:24 PM ^

You have to also consider that people would be taking time out of their lives to go to this game.  People have lives outside of football: kids, jobs, marriage, etc.  Considering that parking sucks, there's a traffic jam, and the game is going to suck, you can't blame them for not going to the game.

Also, I don't buy the generalization that people who don't go to the games are "fairweather".  You can watch the games at home and still care and not be "fairweather".  I've only ever gone to a couple games ever but hardly ever miss a game on TV.  Some fans, like me, are just unable to make the sacrifices needed to head up to the big house.

Michigan Arrogance

November 26th, 2013 at 9:20 PM ^

We aren't new york city, we are Michigan.  

We are the hard working heart of America. We are a land of people who do the jobs that aren't flashy enough for the east coast and not stylish enough for the west coast.  We stood at the front lines of the economic depression that hit us harder than any other state of the union, and even as our core industry was faced with bankruptcy and bailout, the production lines still built cars even as the banks kicked our friends and families out of their houses.  

We get what loyalty is. The best sports fans in America are in this state.   I've never been any place more intense than a red wings playoff game.  Tigers fans turn Comerica park into someplace magical, in a way the Yankees couldn't reproduce in the bronx.  Lions fans file down to Ford Field every home sunday and every thanksgiving despite over 50 years of continual futility.

 

Get the fuck over yourself.

M-Wolverine

November 26th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

Both in comments and articles, and doesn't think fans are fickle are completely delusional. 

And no one is out buying tickets for a "bad product." Everyone already bought the tickets, so there's no increase in cost...it's already sunk. People are now just choosing not to go to the game, and giving them to Ohio State fans (and as the prices show, not even getting their money back.) You don't want to pay for a ticket because the price is too high for the product? That's not fickle. Having already determined you can afford it and have purchased it but now decide you're not going to the game because it isn't meeting your expected standards? Yeah, that's fickle.