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 3:01 PM ^

Yes -- this!!


I think Brian generally does a good job of capturing the average fan's reaction and putting it into pretty workds - but have to agree with Magnus on this one. I  believed in RR and didn't want to see him go, but now that the change has been made I believe in Hoke and believe he deserves more patience and better support than he has been shown thus far


November 26th, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

To quote: We expect too much from football coaches these days.

When the organization he represents squeezes every last dollar they can get out of the fanbase, the expectations should be extrememly high.  The ability of the football program and the AD to extract so much from the fans is built on the expectation of winning.  Frankly, Hoke has had a free pass to this point when he should have taken far worse from the fans and media.

How many season ticket holders that have put up with the garbage on the field since 2003 are fickle if they decide that they are going to try and recapture some of the dollars DB & Co have sucked out of them?  Hoke gave his good friend and lousy OC Al Borges a huge raise to $650k before the 2012 season. He doesn't seem to mind spending the fruits of DB's ticket price and PSD increases on his cronies that clearly don't deserve it.

To call the people that pay for everything that he is receiving fickle is crap.  Some of us have decided that driving hours and spending an entire day to support this very poor football team is no longer a wise decision.  

If seeing the Stadium full of Buckeyes is the wakeup call that Hoke and DB need to make some changes and start treating the fans better, then maybe more of us "fickle" fans should opt out.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

The point is that loyal fans are being asked to cough up an ever larger chunk of their disposable income, to the point where what used to be an easily justified expense is now rising into "tough choices" category. And Dave Brandon has zero problem with that, because he'd rather have wealthy fans than loyal ones. He wants to maximize revenue, and if your particular seat is filled by an ass that paid more, well, that's an unadulterated good. Tickets in your family for years? Too damn bad, watch the game at home, you peon, I've got donors palms to grease.

And I think it's right that he be called out on that.

Maybe fickle fans upset Hoke. He's certainly loyal if anyone is. But he ought to look at his boss before he casts stones.


November 26th, 2013 at 6:41 PM ^

I think Brian is using Hoke's comment as a jumping off point to gripe about DB and the athletic department in general. Sort of a "let's talk about this word, fickle". I stopped reading it as an indictment of Hoke as soon as he got to a table of ticket prices.

Anyway, your mileage may vary but I thought it was fair to use Hoke's line as a rhetorical jumping off point.


November 26th, 2013 at 9:36 PM ^


I'm also a coach and understand your loyalty to players and other coaches, Magnus.  But if you think the rant was about Hoke calling fans fickle, I think you missed the larger point.

Hoke is in a high-visibility position.  When you make $3M a year, you have to play the PC game.  You can't call your paying customers, fans, alumni, etc "fickle."  It's dumb, misguided and counter-productive.  But it isn't the biggest deal in the world.

It is, however, yet another middle finger to the fans from the athletic department.  It's a "jumping off point" or the "tipping point" or whatever you want to consider it.  The AD is gouging its customers.  I don't think anyone can really argue against that.  They are doing it at a time when watching from home has become exponentially a better option and when the product is decidedly not good.  And they don't care.  They are taking advantage of alumni would are the exact opposite of fickle: They'll come back for their love of this great Michigan of ours. 

It is our un-fickle-ness that the AD is taking advantage of - thus the rant.  The fact that Hoke said it is a little aloof (coming from a $3M a year man), but not the main point.


November 27th, 2013 at 3:47 AM ^

to argue gouging but first you need to provide the formula you use to determine the break point of gouge / not gouge.   I would be equally interested to know if you have a formula to determine at which point customers are taking undo advantage when a business is having a fire sale or some such thing.

Block M

November 26th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

All of this from using the word ‘fickle’ in response to a question about the possibility of there being more buckeye fans than Michigan fans this Saturday. And a relatively insignificant question at that.

Let’s think about this. Was Hoke simply expressing how disappointing it would be if this situation materialized on Saturday, for the players, especially the seniors who are playing their last home game? Or in that second he had to form a response to the hypothetical, do people really think he was going over pricing schemes/increases in his head and trying to take a shot at the fans regardless?

Not sure the context of which he was responding to the question requires a tantrum. Come on, man. 

Indiana Blue

November 26th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

this team should be the absolute worst 10-1 team in America today.  The loses to PSU, Nebraska and Iowa are ALL based upon the fact that Al Borges is an incompetent offensive coordinator.  His inability to know this teams strengths and weknesses and develop a strategy based upon those KNOWN factors has directly led to 3 losses.

If this was 10-1 vs 11-0 ohio - this Saturday, Michigan Stadium would NOT be a sea of red.  But here we are 7-4 and some fans are going to bail because our play calling is likely NOT going to allow us to be competetive.  

Hoke has FAILED to remove the "incompetent one" from the Michigan staff.  It is frankly harder to watch this team than ANY of Hoke's previous teams, solely because of Borges lack of understanding of where are strenghths lie.  This had better be Borges last game - no bowl game - time to move on.  If Hoke refuses to remove Borges going into 2014 - then he is putting all his "chips" into a toxic investment.  

I will be there Saturday, Section 11 doing my best ... but Al has beaten me up this year and I am not the fan I was to start the year.  But very few of the season ticket holders are ... you can feel it in the stadium ... the TRUE electricity of Michigan football is simply not there as it was for ND and unfortunately for those Michigan fans on Saturday ... it is going to resemble 2009 all over again.

Go Blue!

The FannMan

November 26th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Anyone remember back a few short years ago when this blog blasted the MSM, radio callers and the "MLive Crew" for taking stray remarks from Rich Rod's pressers and using them as absolute proof that he wasn't a Michigan Man, didn't get it, didn't care about The Game, didn't know about any Michigan traditions, ddn't respect the fans etc. etc, etc?

Anyone remember Brain taking the lead in blasting such comments as silly over-reactions  which only showed how badly people were reaching to achieve their thinnly hidden agenda of getting Rich Rod canned just because they really, really wanted someone else hired?

Anyone remember that?  Yeah, me neither.

The FannMan

November 26th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

You did, in fact, miss the sarcasm.

Yes, Brian frequently defended Rich after he took heat for his gaffes.

And no, I don't have the time or the inclination to do a search of past posts and include quotes to prove my point.  So please help yourself.  You'll probably find one or two times that Brian criticized RR for something he said and drag it out here.  Cool.

None of that, however, changes the fact that this blog is slowly becoming what it once despised.  it regularly obsesses over each and every word in a press conference, a freaking press conference, as evidence that Hoke or Borgess is an ignornant "pig" who needs to be fired right now.  Until now, it was mostly commenters going nuts on the transcript posts.  I assumed that Brian didn't like it, but felt he needed to keep posting the transcripts.  Now, he has joined the masses.


November 26th, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^


And I get the feeling that this whole thing is nothing but Brian being upset that we don't run his preferred offensive scheme. How else does one explain the patience that he had for the losing under Coach Rod but the impatience with a coach with a winning record? He said himself a few weeks ago that although 2008 was worse, at least he had hope and could understand the offensive principles. Well, this offense sucks, but can't we have hope that our defense will be great and our kicking game is good? Don't we think we can make changes on offense and turn it around, the same way we hoped GERG could change the defense?


November 26th, 2013 at 11:23 PM ^

What tactics? 

Seriously, what kind of criticism has Hoke faced this year from MGoBlog? No one is happy with the results, but in general, Hoke has remained above any below the belt shots by staff members and for the most part the readership. People have pointed to his positive qualities over and over again (defense, recruiting).

People want to believe that Brian is being anti-Hoke, but really all I've seen in some passive shots at Borges, who deserves them, because, well, look at the results. 

Yeah, you can point at this, but its more a critique of Brandon that uses Hoke's phrase - which I thought was a poor choice of words, there are a lot better ways to get his meaning across - to attack a larger point. 

Again, I've seen nothing this year from the board that compares to the anti-RR sentiment that seemed to come from 50% of the members directed at Hoke. And the staff seems pretty lock-step in saying that Hoke deserves till 2015. 


November 26th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

I cant speak for Brian but for me it's the trajectory.  At least with RR's teams we had an explosive offense (which let's face it - is more fun to watch) and a craptastic defense.  And the team did get better each year although nowhere near as fast or as far I would like.

Now we have exactly the opposite.  A team who seemingly peaked year one and is getting demonstrateably worse each year.  Couple that with an a Gerg-like OC that is defended staunchly by the HC and it's difficult for me to feel much hope for the future.  I look at the schedule next year and can already pencil in three losses and fear many more.

Add in insanely high ticket prices and PSL and you have recipe for disaster IMO.  Just my opinion though.


November 26th, 2013 at 7:51 PM ^

and others before, I'll ask again.  Would you be happier if Michigan had posted a 3-9 record in 2011 followed by a 5-7 record in 2012, and at least seven wins this year?  It would be a losing record but at least it would be on an upward trajectory.

I don't know about you, but I want to see what Hoke can do after we get past this hollow force team all but bereft of upperclassmen.  Of course if you get your way there's a good chance that the class of 2014 will evaporate along with 2015.  Predicting good times are you?


November 26th, 2013 at 8:13 PM ^

If you start off low the only way you have to go is up (btw, his wins went up, but decidedly not his defense)

When you start high, the only way to go is down.

Trajectory is important, and it looks bad so far. But to think it is the only thing that matters is fundamentally flawed.

Hoke has a BCS win. RRs best win was against ND. Sorry, even if trajectory matters, it is not the only thing.


November 26th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

You and I have discussed your view. I find it entirely justifiable. What I find silly is Brian Cook of MGoBlog, who rightfully defended Coach Rodriguez from the many media smears that he endured, creating a smear campaign on Hoke over something he said in a presser. Particularly because the thing that was said is true. Fans are fickle. Its demonstrably true. All of the arguments are about the product (offense) being shitty. Well, you sell the season tickets you've had for a long time, you are being fickle. Its not really a pejorative! Its just the truth of the matter.

That aside, as a lot of you know, I have been a huge Borges apologist. I've said again and again that Borges is nothing special to me, I just feel like he gets a lit of undeserved heat (to go along with the ton of deserved heat) because we don't like the offense. Now Home is feeling that same stupid misdirected heat. And its stupid. And misdirected.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

I have been a longtime fan of the Michigan Wolverines, and I feel fortunate to have been present the Notre Dame game this year, having season tickets like most of you here.  The opening game was a nominal victory, setting expectations for the upcoming year, but the other game against Akron began to plant the seed of doubt, which has grown and blossomed through year into a full tree of woe.

Now, we, hearty Michigan fans, have received our notices for the PSL mailing with a sense of trepidation and dread, as we wonder what the regression analysis will lead to in the future.  Are Michigan ticket prices going to inexorably rise or are they a house of cards that will fall, if the Team does not win consistently.  

Is the Big Ten becoming a high priced Ivy league football conference, which has little chance competing against the SEC and Pac-N (where N = the current # of west coast teams of the year)?  What additional entertainment value will justify higher prices?  As Michigan fans, we just want good football, winning football.  How long will it be for me to replace the 2007 Rose Bowl gear with something current?

I feel your pain Brian, and the least we can do stay loyal to you as well as renew our privilege to visit Michigan Stadium with our own tickets every year.  Perhaps, we should also throw in a Blu-Ray or DVD set of season 5 of Parks and Recreation.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

And totally missed this from the presser. I have been critical of his coaching, but generally give him a pass on anything to do with character or attitude.

My concern with such a quote is that he indeed feels so comfortable at fort schembechler that he can shit on the fan base despite putting out such a crap product this year. I also don't mind the team against the world attitude until it alienates your own fan base. It seems he has a lot more job security than someone who hasn't achieved his stated goals (in 3 years on the job) should. If we don't reach the B1G championship game next year, it could get ugly.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:59 PM ^

If Michigan fans thought they had a chance to win this game, they would not be selling their tickets. 

Why don't we think we have a chance to spoil OSU's perfect season?

Because over the past month, Brady Hoke has trotted out some of the worst football we've ever seen in Ann Arbor courtesy of Al Borges' offense. Borges has beaten the hope out of Michigan fans.

Whose fault is it that Al Borges is here at Michigan?

Brady Hoke. 

To me "fickle" fans are those who simply don't care about the team when things are bad and then suddenly pretend like they've been there all along when the things are good. Michigan fans choosing to watch the game at home rather than sit through what appears an inevitable beatdown doesn't strike me as fickle, it strikes me as realistic. They are voicing their displeasure at the fact the OC is currently the third highest paid OC in college football and has produced one of the worst months the sport has ever seen. Its a statement. Its not like we're going to start supporting a different team or not feel the hurt of a loss or (please?) the joy of a victory. Its just not worth it to sit through even more misery, to pretend like nothing is wrong with the program when there is clearly a big problem. 

A better OC and Michigan is 10-1 and stands a fighting chance. With Al Borges, what's the point? 



November 26th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

You think these are bad losses?  Being in the games to the very end?  I remember Wisconsin running down our throats for an entire half.  I remember Tressel kneeling down at our 5 up 37-7 because he felt sorry for us.  And I remember Mississippi State crushing us in a bowl game.  Fucking Mississippi State!  These losses ain't even close to that shit.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

You feel they are different, but they are really the same. Our defense could not stop anyone in 2010, thus we were unlikely to win anything but a shootout. 

Our offense cannot score on anyone in 2013, thus we are unlikely to win anything but a low scoring affair. 

Its mass incompetence on one side of the ball. The scores may look worse, but if you're down 10 with 18 minutes left and feel you have no chance of scoring another point, is that any worse than being down 28 and feeling that even if you score you have no chance of stopping anyone? 



November 26th, 2013 at 3:58 PM ^

If you really feel that being in a game with a legitimate chance of winning up until the final seconds is somehow equivalent to being run out of the building then I don't have anywhere else to go for you.  I get that the losses can be more gut wrenching because of the closeness, but it's no where near the futility of having no chance at all.  This team is doing well in all phases except 1 and it shows in the scores.


November 26th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

If you are down 7 points and cannot score a touchdown, how can you possibly be in a game? 

When we were down 10 points to MSU with a whole quarter to go, did you feel like we could win the game?

I do get what you're saying, one looks worse than the other, but its still the same concept. 

Indiana Blue

November 26th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

getting your ass handed to you is so much better than losing to an inferior footnball team.  Penn State, Nebraska and Iowa are inferior football teams to Michigan.  Our defense simply wears out because Borges is a MORON and the D has to plat the entire 2nd half ... or worse they watch an offensive midget call plays ... 27 for 27.  Negative back to back rushing games ... what a joke you are Borges.

Blow outs are much easier to deal with vs. heart-breakers anyday.

Go Blue!

Indiana Blue

November 27th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

like it or not Sparty plays to their strengths and makes very few mistakes.  They are not beating themselves like the days of old.  Yes we can still beat them ... but not with Borges ... too predictable and stubborn.  Right now they are playing with confidence ... do you think Devin and company have ANY confidence left in the tank?

Penn State, Nebraska and Iowa are NOT GOOD football teams!

Go Blue!


November 26th, 2013 at 6:42 PM ^

Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State the Sugar.  And that OSU game fell apart because of our turnovers.  We were moving the ball at ease in the first half of that game and it should have been a lot closer going into halftime.  The bowl game I blame on the guys playing for a lame duck coach.

This year, we're losing to mid-pack B1G teams.  It makes a difference in my mind though I see your perspective.