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 1:00 PM ^

damn Brian, you pretty much took the gloves off with this post....although I cannot disagree with you in the least bit!

Anyhow, Go Blue! and may the bourbon and/or whiskey be flowing with all of you as it will be with me


November 26th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

Did Dave Brandon raise ticket prices back in 1910 to $48 dollars? Bottom line this is still amateur atheletics and we are paying in some times three times more than you would have too at a professional game. Alot of money grubbing without putting a quality product on the field

Section 1

November 26th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

We were playing at Ferry Field in those days.  Michigan was a national power, with a string of undefeatead and/or one-loss seasons going back a decade.  And Ferry Field was a nice place; a great place to see a game.  The problem was that it was so small.  Demand was crazy, and the Michigan economy was very good, which is why with some considerable foresight Old Man Yost later dreamed up an 85,000 seat stadium.

Brian; great main post.  One of the handful of your very best.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:01 PM ^

i see all the games on TV.  some of them start at 9a so i can watch them, feel like shit AND have the rest of a saturday to make up for it!  i never spend money on tickets.  i never run into an OSU or MSU fan.  and the notre dame fans out here do realize even michigan beat them.


when i lived in michigan for 25 years i went to hundreds of games.  but i left the state before things like a PSL existed.

when i watch games now, i am happy that so many of you spend hard-earned money to see our university play.  am i a bad michigan fan for being glad i haven't spend a dollar on tickets in 10 years?


November 26th, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

It is nice in some ways, but i can speak to the obligation that Brian likely feels... 

I watch a fair amount of games at a Bar owned by Ohio State people that gets flooded with red on gamedays.  There are some Michigan people so it's not all bad.  

I anticipate a bad experience on Saturday but I feel like it's wrong not to show up.  Besides, it isn't going to be half as bad as people actually going to the game.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

Indeed, you do.  As a Michigan graduate and a Stanford graduate that lives a stone's throw from Stanford Stadium, I can tell you that being a Stanford fan is wonderful.  

The crap that is Michigan football, i.e. coaches that care more about cronyism and history than excellence and accountability and an athletic department that is insular and arrogant, etc. is simply not part of the program at Stanford.

Seeing those kids (true scholar-athletes) take the field and play well fills me with a sense of pride and a feeling that "anything" is possible in a way that Michigan cannot.  

When Stanford loses, I at least know that it loses because it "got beat," and I have NO fear that it lost because it is being led by substandard coaches with job security.  Losses hurt, but they hurt a HELL OF A LOT LESS when you are sure that the whole machine is working well and is doing everything it can to prevent losing through the pursuit of excellence.  I haven't felt that way about Michigan football in 25 years.


November 26th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

alum and west coast fan. 

This is what happens when an unqualified "Michigan Man" is given a job to turn the program around. Those that subscribe to the Michigan Man aura circle the wagons and protect their own regardless of performances. To hear Andy Migery on WTKA say "that the program is headed in the right direction and Hoke is the right man for the job" made me want to vomit. He was lying through his teeth and protecting one of his own.

Brian, I give you credit for what you posted. It is right on and I know it was not easy to do.

The sad part of all this is Hoke is here for at least another two years if not more. Not sure about Borges but Hoke being a Michigan Man has his sinecure.


November 26th, 2013 at 5:55 PM ^

Yeah, isn't it going to absolutely suck when every member of the offensive line is a fourth-year or third-year junior with at least two years of starting experience? Isn't it going to absolutely suck when the WRs are upperclassmen, the TEs have been playing for four years, the QB is a true junior, the running backs are upperclassmen? THIS IS GOING TO SUCK, ROYALLY.


November 26th, 2013 at 6:36 PM ^

will be here in 2016, let alone any particular player, nor is there any guarantee that the coaches will be able to get the most out of said players.  I'm sorry, but waiting for the remote possibility that 2015 will be something great just doesn't cut it right now.  Not when when we are looking at another 6 loss season.  And not when 2014 looks so unpromising that we are likely to see our 9th loss out of the last 10 to Ohio and 6 losses to Sparty in the last 7. 


November 27th, 2013 at 8:13 AM ^

Because they have proven with the uperclassmen we do have that they can totally "coach 'em up"?  And because we are the only school in America starting 4 - second year players on O (all others with 3 or more years in the program)?  Are those other teams averaging less than 35 yars of rushing, and less than 220 yards of total offense in their last 4, 3 of which are mediocre D's at best?

That is just garbage excuse making. 


Nobody Likes a…

November 27th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

My better half attended Stanford so I have been to a lot of Cardinal games. While it is a wonderful experience in comparative fan bases it isn't quite the same.  It took Harbaugh calling the schools bluff on their commitment to the program to start them on the path they are on now.

The fan base and expectation at Stanford are very different. This is a fan base that ti me seems like they feel they are playing with house money. So while winning is great they just don't seem to enjoy it as much as we do. This is a function of there being very little expectation placed by the fans. There isn't the tremendous weight of history on them.

I'm not saying this to detract from their great school or fantastic program. I say it mostly because I don't feel like it is a fair comparison.


All that said I would still take David Shaw as our HC in a heartbeat.


November 26th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

I too live on the left coast, over 30 years now, but I go back to a gm every season (the Indiana barnburner this year, where it oddly looked like we knew how to play offense!)
I'm fortunate to have friends who still live in A2 and invite me to come anytime & go to games w/ them. So technically I also don't pay for tix, but me & my family are heavily into M schwag, and I also go to a local bar to watch virtually every game I do not attend. Those things ain't free! ;)

So I can relate to many of these sentiments, including not even knowing if I feel like trekking down to the bar for the 9am kick on Sat! It's my GD bday too, so that's a suck way to start it, knowing we're getting pwned!
But I will, largely because of the feeling of being a fairweather quitter if I didn't. We're lucky in Marin County to have a very large & loyal Blue following, and even tho I know the crowd will be a LOT sparser than if we were 10-1, there'll be a good crowd of great Wolverines!

Where would I rather be, with who, doing what?! It's Michigan football dammit!
Go Blue & fire Borges!


November 26th, 2013 at 7:55 PM ^

I live in San Francisco and Buckeyes and Spartans are hard to come by here, so being a fan is much less challenging, if for not other reason than b/c Kezar Pub makes an excellent Bloody Mary for 9 a.m. starts.

I brought my son back to A2 for his first game ever last year and went to all the places that I frequented on game days growing up (whole family are alumnae, so parents are big fans and we always had season tickets), luckily I picked the Northwestern game and got a great result in the end. 


November 28th, 2013 at 4:10 PM ^

Haha I agree about being on the west coast is nice during a tough season.  The only issue I have is I seem to have found the only tOSU grocery store in all of Phoenix.  I swear there is always someone with bucknut gear on in there.  There is also this Bama guy that I've seen a few times.  The only way I know he is a Bama fan is he's wearing a Bama shirt, Bama hat, and Bama shorts.  I have to assume the red SUV with license plate BAMAFAN is his too.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:03 PM ^

like Brady but am getting really really tired of his laissez faire attitude.  Jesus man, can you show one bit of emotion?  Just a little bit of fire?  I mean, we're talking Dantonio levels right now.

His Dudeness

November 26th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

Well put.

Looking at that quote form his presser, it is kind of one of the worst things he could have said to us. We; the ones who make his things so pretty.

We've kind of been through a bit of suffering in the last few years - as far as suffering can be applied to sports fandom in the context of actual, like, human suffering. 

 You're very right to be very very pissed off by it. I can't believe it slipped through my very pissed about everything lately radar.

Next year is gonna be a year, as they say.


November 26th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

Yup. that's it. This game isn't worth $100 to me. Not this year. I think that Brian hit the nail on the head in that the AD sees fans as an ATM, and nothing more. That's the problem I've had with Brandon's AD all along.


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


November 26th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

I’m going to talk about The Game today. I’m not going to take a question about it. I’m going to talk about this comment I haven’t read this comment—, but it was brought to me by a mother.... of children.

I want to talk about this comment. Three-fourths of it is inaccurate. It’s fiction and the it embarrasses me to be involved with mgoblog tremendously. It had to have been written by a person that doesn’t have a child and has never had a child that’s had their heart broken and come home upset! And had to deal with the child when he is upset! And kick a person when he’s down!

Here’s all Brady Hoke did! He goes to press conferences. He is respectful to the media. He is respectful to others! . And he’s a good coach, and he’s not a professional athlete and he doesn’t deserve to be kicked when he’s down.

If you have a child someday, you’ll understand how it feels. But you obviously don’t have a child. I do. If your child goes down the street and somebody makes fun of him because he failed a test in a history class, or says he’s fat, and he comes home crying to his mom, you’d understand. But you haven’t had that.

Someday you will and when your child comes home, you’ll understand. If you want to go after a head coach— one of my coaches— you go after one who doesn’t do the right things! You don’t downgrade him because he does everything right and may not show enough anger at presss conferences! And you let the school administrators make that decision, not Oklahoma State coaches!

That’s why I didn't read this comment! Because it’s garbage! And the poster who wrote it is garbage! Attacking a decent coach doing everything right! And then you want to hire coaches who don’t do things right and downgrade them, the ones that do win games.

Are you kidding me? Where are we at in society today? Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40! I’m not a kid! Say I don't show enough emotion. Or Dave Brandon. Don’t reject a coach that does everything right, that’s heart is broken, and then say the AD said he was didn't do well enough on that test! That ain’t true! And then to say that we made that decision because the fans, because they decided to sell their tickets! That’s not true!

So get your facts straight! And I hope someday you have a child and somebody downgrades them and belittles them and rejects them and you have to look them in the eye and say, “You know what? It’s OK. They are supposed to be mature adults but they’re really not.” Who’s the kid here? Who’s the kid here? Are you kidding me? That’s all I’ve got to say. It makes me want to puke.

Blue X2

November 26th, 2013 at 6:10 PM ^

I have a son with special needs and handicapped so ican relate to having a child that is rejected and disappointed. He knows people look at him funny and talk about him. But he handles it all with dignity and never blames others.

At the same time, I am a season ticket holder who is despondent over the crap we watch every Saturday from paid professionals. The players are armatures but the coaches are not. They are paid very well and have systematically delivered a crap product. If this was a pizza company no one would by the product. It sucks in a huge way and the pizza barons are laughing all the auto the bank. It makes me want to commit to know the a-- clown OCis the 3rd highest in CF.

Unlike your son and my son, they are not innocent. They are being paid very well by our ultra genus "donations" and deliver crap pizza.


November 26th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

I'm less inclined to be worked up about his accusation of 'fickle' though, as to some extent I agree with him...people don't have to pay/go to games/buy when the team doesn't win, but that isn a choice, but if you want to call yourself a fan, you back the program no matter what, win or lose, regardless of whether or not you like the coach. I'm not saying be all rah-rah, the AD and coaches have earned heps of criticism......but the players deserve our support no matter what. The only reason you should ever withdraw support for those guys is if there was some kind of team-wide character issues at play, which there is decidedly not. Anyone calling out Gardner at this point really should have their head examined....the kid is being dropped into a meat grinder each week and hobbled by play-calling and scheme and keeps going out there to try again, picking him self up off the turf every time. If you boo....and you can't just boo coaches in a suck. You should stay home.

I get more tweaked by Hoke's incessant assertion that the current level of suck is somehow the fault of the payers. At first it just felt like he was being obtuse and it was just poor wording from someone trying to avoid answering hard questions, but after this many times....?

Beyond just the simple fact that pointing the finger at your players is a pretty low thing to do, it also makes one realize that pehaps he really believes this and does not perceive there to a problem in scheme, play-calling, player development at all, which is what really makes me dread the next few years. 

You can recruit a whole stable of five-star players, but if the player development and cognitive aspects of the game are not there from the coaches, you will top out at 9 wins and forever be on the outside looking in as far as national relevance is concerned.