Hokepoints Reviews Fourth and Long

Submitted by Seth on November 5th, 2013 at 10:59 AM

fourth-and-long

Previously in this space: The excerpt. Bacon Q&A with Brian and readers.

So there was a new Bacon book this year. We need to review this book. I'm going to do this with the expectation that you have either read it already or are going to. You should. It is a Bacon book. You are reading MGoBlog; either you are a person who appreciates Bacon or else a visiting Sparty looking for more trolling fodder, in which case help yourself to the board where I promise you there's plenty. Or better yet, read some Bacon—you're in the Big Ten; this concerns you too. And he says the Red Cedar is nice.9040891

This is not a negative review, even though I have a tendency to focus on the "needs work" aspects—I'm the guy who walked out of The Return of the King after five years of unmitigated Peter Jackson man-crushing and complained that there were too many endings. So apologies to John U., who's higher in my esteem than Mr. Jackson and just about everyone whose quotes aren't emblazoned on a wall somewhere, for the plurality of minuses below.

The book is available wherever they sell books these days. Amazon links: Kindle, Hardcover. I bought it on Kindle.

More Bacon. Ever since Bo's Lasting Lessons, the chance to devour a new Bacon book has been somewhat of an event around these parts. As a Michigan fan it would be tough to follow the unparalleled access and insight into the Rich Rod program accomplished with Three and Out, specifically because that unvarnished snapshot was so starkly antithetical to Dave Brandon's meticulous staging of his Michigan show: You knew at the time that no true journalist would be allowed to see behind the bunting again, so it should only come as a mild disappointment that there is little about the Michigan program in this book that you didn't already know.

Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football is four unequal looks at four 2012 Big Ten programs, or four and a half if you count a mini-treatment that Michigan State and Mark Hollis receive as host of an Ohio State road game. In order of detail:

IMG_2803
The Kindle X-ray. The next 20 keywords, in order, are Mike Zordich, Ohio State Buckeyes, Dave Brandon, Matt McGloin, Pat Fitzgerald, NFL, Joe Paterno, Nebraska, Wolverines, head coach, Wisconsin, Ohio, Rich Mauti, Jordan Hill, Denard Robinson, Chicago, Spider Caldwell, and Dave Joyner.
  1. Penn State from the point of view of its players, former players, coaches, and equipment managers as they find themselves taking the brunt of the Penn State Awful Thing, and the NCAA's and PSU brass's callow responses to it.
    ======HUGE GAP======
  2. Michigan from Bacon's own point of view of its fans, as those fans interact with Brandon's corporate-itude.
  3. Ohio State from the P.O.V. of Urban Meyer as he goes from win to win trying to get Zach Boren to like him, and
  4. Northwestern as the paragon of virtue.

Bacon set out, as is evident from the title and made clear throughout the book, to examine these four schools from different points of view (players, AD, head coach, and president, respectively), and use the findings to determine if any of the Big Ten's current models for college football are sustainable for college football in general. In it he consistently finds players and fans who "get it" while the people in control seek new and better ways to milk it.

But he could only use what he got from each school. With Ohio State the access was mostly restricted to Urban on game days. He brushes against tatgate but doesn't get into the cars or any other "everybody knows, nobody can prove" things—you have to appreciate that Bacon will never accuse somebody without proof (especially considering he's an avowed Michigan fan talking about Ohio State) but it's really hard to talk about college sports and the competitive problems therein without admitting there are relative bad guys. The Gee quote—"I hope he doesn't fire me!"—is in there in reference to the bloated role of college football head coach in America. The closest he comes to pointing out OSU's exceptionalism in this regard is when addressing the carrying off of Tressel after last year's Game:

"The Buckeyes do not run a renegade program, but they once again demonstrated they don't seem to care if their actions make others think they do."

This isn't a complaint; Bacon handled a sticky situation about as well as he could. With Northwestern he got some key interviews, particularly with Pat Fitzgerald, but no warts (this could be because they don't have any).

With Michigan Bacon was outside looking in, so he used some of the Bacon-usual suspects—Carty, the dueling barbershops, the public comments of James Duderstadt and Don Canham, Brian Cook of MGoBlog, etc. There's also an inside look at the Mud Bowl, and most interestingly, a candid interview with Michigan's band director about Send-the-Band-to-Dallas-gate. I was more intrigued by the comments made by Bill Martin on the corporatization of NCAA football, which I'll come back to. The whole Notre Dame saga is covered. Except for the band's comments most of this is old news to you.

The result is a book that's 52% about Penn State trying to survive 2012, with a bunch of stuff thrown in about some other schools and corporations to underscore a point made clear without leaving Happy Valley.

[After the jump: it's just, like, my opinion man.]

Takeaways: There were really two books here: the PSU 2012 story, which Bacon told better than any of the Penn State people who tackled the same subject, and the one he actually set out to write about the NCAA that was frustratingly incomplete.

Mauti_vs_Denard_2010_display_image
Mauti is basically the hero of the story, holding his team together and demonstrating, in the face of the NCAA's hypocrisy, that playing college football and getting a degree are actually highly valued by some people. [Mike Pettigano]

The best way I can demonstrate the difference in the two books is to contrast the Mauti quote in the last chapter, where he's just found out whether his latest injury will cost him an NFL career, with that from his friend Zordich at the epilogue. Caution: there's effing in both.

Mauti:

"Whoever's trying to kill me isn't getting the job done. But one day, I'm going to punch that fucker in the face.

Zordich:

"I worry about the future of the game, because what they're going to be playing in twenty years will have nothing to do with what we had.

"The suits are ruining the whole thing, for money.

"It makes enough fucking money.

"How much do they need?"

With the first you get the full sense of the resilience of PSU's players and coaches in the face of an NCAA trying to get the other inmates to administer a death penalty for them. With the second you feel like you walked into the middle of a protest on the Diag: Yeah, man, the corporations.

6a00e553e551d188340120a5d7a517970c-500wi
Google image returns for "Bill Martin Michigan" are about 15% Rich Rod, 10% sailboats, 1% Les Miles, and 1% the other Bill Martin who's a professor with NERS.

Here's where I come back to Bacon's recent interview with Bill Martin. Bill's a bit of a polarizing figure because he disgruntled plenty of the Canhamites (nevermind that he was a huge improvement from Goss), and for Sailboatgate (nevermind that we dodged a huge bullet because of it). On the other hand—and this is the Bill Martin we meet in the book—he's the athletic director who you knew wasn't lying when he justified the luxury boxes because they'd keep the advertising out and the other seats affordable (the boxes are also the primary factor in Michigan's relative flushness in recent years, in case you were giving Brandon credit for that) (I need to stop with the parentheticals in this paragraph).

Martin's big complaint about the Dave Brandon's Michigan is how much they're spending on marketing:

"You don't have to do marketing at Michigan, We have the fans. We have the support. We have a great reputation. All you have to do is win. If you win they will come. You just need to make it as affordable as possible for your fans.

On the one hand, the very existence of a chief marketing officer on State Street is so intuitively antithetical that Hunter Lochmann and his "Lochdogg" former twitter handle and his power words are running jokes on this site. On the other hand, tell me you didn't cringe at least a little bit at the same "this is Michigan" naivety from the man who thought Carr would retire and all the Bill Cowhers would immediately line up outside the door?

Who's Scrooging Whom?

The complicating factor when you say "the corporations" is it's harder than you think to find a Scrooge McDuck swimming in a silo of gold earned by other people. Money has a way of being used; a free market has to absorb opportunity costs, and accept an adversarial relationship between consumers and providers, and deal with the fact that things in temporary demand will be grossly overvalued unless somebody's conscious gets in the way (it's pretty tough on consciouses too). Bacon does point where some of the money goes: coaches' salaries, like those of CEOs, that have been bloated by the market well past what an operation built to manage amateur athletics between colleges was ever equipped to handle. To point at this and say "that's wrong" is easy, but it's harder when you're culpable.

delany
Requisite Delany-Rutgers shot time.

In your head I want you to imagine how many years it will take Greg Mattison to be paid as much at Michigan as Bo Schembechler was for his entire career, the AD stint and Michigan Replay appearances included. Now remember that a big reason—according to Three and Out—Rodriguez was in the market for DCs he couldn't get along with is Bill Martin, not wanting to contribute to the ugly arms race, wouldn't give Jeff Casteel an offer worth moving for. Hypothetically, would you pay an extra $1,000 seat license fee? What about $500?

Hunter Lochmann will be happy to correlate the two, and what college football fans need is for our greatest anti-Lochmanns—and John U. Bacon is certainly on anybody's short list for the Anti-Bullshiters League—to separate them, show fans exactly how their milk is pasteurized, and whom it's feeding. The book does a little bit of that, but when he does so it's usually Brian Cook (Big Ten expansion tete-a-tete with EDSBS and the Jerryworld revelation) he's quoting. With the former—probably because that point is broken up by an unprintable Gotye video—Bacon left out the current destination of all that cash from cable's communist bundling system: massive building projects at the big schools (and, not mentioned by any of these parties, the Division I-ization of schools that shouldn't be able to afford it, which has further complicated reform efforts).

How to put the genie back in the bottle, though a nearly impossible question, is what I felt this book signed up for and ultimately didn't deliver. Brian even asked Bacon in the Q&A this very question, and got back "what is the tipping point for fans?" Bacon later did provide an answer in an article he wrote last month for Yahoo Sports:

What football and basketball players need is what baseball and hockey players have enjoyed for almost a century: a viable minor league, so players who don't want to be college students, and prefer to be paid in cash instead of scholarships, can do just that.

In the article he makes a strong case that simply paying players just adds fuel to the money-grubbing fire. Bacon's method for forcing the NFL and NBA to make these leagues is to bring back freshman ineligibility.

Let's Talk About the Fixes

I'm getting off the topic of the book now but to answer that, I don't think restricting freshmen from playing is at all plausible simply because the schools wouldn't agree to it in a million years.

new-michigan-wolverines-facilities-designs
I've been refraining all week from making fun of what a dump Spartan Stadium appears to be compared to Michigan's facilities because I find Mark Hollis's austerity in service to his fans preferable to shiny natatoriums, a sentiment echoed by Bacon when visiting MSU.

College hockey isn't a great model since OHL teams use some pretty shady tactics to defeat their draft picks' college eligibility, and Canadians' passion for their minor league hockey teams is like that of college sports in the U.S. and soccer in Europe: long, passionate relationships that pre-date television. Baseball's minor leagues are hideously unattended and a drag on MLB franchises' bottom lines. What they can take from the NHL and MLB is they're allowed to draft players and leave them in college. The NFL—not NCAA—created the arbitrary three-years-out-of-high-school line because that's the point when the players have matured enough that the teams won't waste many investments. The ability to tuck developmental prospects in college—and end up with a more educated workforce I might add—serves the same need, and serves every other need except the orthodoxy of amateurism.

I've made the point before that most of the value in a Terrelle Pryor jersey is credited to Ohio State—Johnny Manziel is a small national franchise but it's still mostly Texas A&M fans who buy Johnny Football. No minor league is going to have 100,000 seats and the players who are passionate about playing on the big stage but not passionate about earning a college degree are still going to sign with Alabama and put their hands under the table. As is abundantly clear in the book, college football is an immensely valuable thing to its fans and its participants: a minor league wouldn't have a chance, and the players would rather pretend to be studying generals than make a taxable $14,500/year in an empty stadium with sub-par talent. Almost universally, athletes desire to play on the biggest stage possible and the only guys they ever want to be more talented than their opposition are their teammates. You can offer an alternative to college; they won't go.

If we take the approach that the free market is instructive, the stuff going on in the SEC might be the most plausible model: give the players a little extra cash from non-program sources and let them have agents (the NFL can decide which agents get licensed). EA Sports shouldn't have to drop their game; they should pay the players a small sum for their likenesses.

Go Read It.

I can't believe Penn State fans haven't eaten this thing up. Ohio State fans will probably hate it, since despite Bacon's best efforts to echo Bill O'Brien's relationship with his players in Urban Meyer's own attempts to win over his team (which he does, with wins), Zach Boren comes off the same way Borens always come off, and the rest of the Buckeye stuff is essentially game recaps and Bacon's musings on the gorgeous Big Ten campuses of Evanston and East Lansing. Northwestern fans will shrug and give Pat Fitzgerald and their A.D. and their president another hug. As for Michigan fans, we're left feeling pretty much as a I imagine Bacon did when trying to complete an impossible task: shut out from the vital stuff for fear we might expose something.

Fourth and Long is available everywhere: 11  bucks on Kindle, 20 for a hardcover.

Comments

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

November 5th, 2013 at 11:23 AM ^

MGoNitpick: "Callow" may not be the word you're wanting there, as it means something along the lines of youthfully naive and inexperienced.  I could be wrong and that may be exactly what you're going for, but it sounds strange to me.

mikoyan

November 5th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

I picked up a copy of this book when I picked up http://www.amazon.com/Football-Nation-Hundred-Years-Americas/dp/0810997622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383669120&sr=8-1&keywords=football+nation+four+hundred+years+of+america%27s+game .  It is waiting to be read and it sounds pretty interesting.  The second one piqued my interest mainly because I have a picture in it.  I now have a copy from the author.

jmblue

November 5th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

 

You are reading MGoBlog; either you are a person who appreciates Bacon or else a visiting Sparty looking for more trolling fodder

 

Or - like me - you are a Michigan fan but not that enthralled by Bacon's meh writing style, constant pontificating and his hero worship of pretty much every coach he meets.

Three and Out  spent a lot of time on the aspects of Rodriguez's tenure that were successful but was very skimpy on the less successful aspects, like the defense.  Its total glossing over of the undermining of Shafer cost it a lot of credibility in my eyes.  I am curious if Bacon was uncomfortable writing unflattering things about how RR handled that or if RR himself insisted on that episode being edited out.

 

Bando Calrissian

November 6th, 2013 at 2:06 AM ^

As I understand it, RR was given the final draft of the book and the opportunity to suggest corrections or edits where he felt there were inaccuracies or misrepresentations, though with the understanding Bacon could print the final draft as it was if he didn't agree.'

If Rich Rodriguez and Michigan didn't want a book about Rich Rodriguez and Michigan, they shouldn't have granted John Bacon unfettered access to the program. For three years. Hell, they probably shouldn't have let him back after year one. But they did. And again for year three. And, big surprise, the book was a pretty honest representation of the royal fuckup the entire situation became. Now they've taken it out on him by selectively enforcing press box rules on JUB and JUB only to deny him a press pass (after they kicked him to the last row for a season), freezing him out on access for this book, etc. It's all very petty and small, IMO.

BJNavarre

November 5th, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

Marketing isn't about football, it's about the other 20-some sports. Michigan football sells itself, but the other sports need help to get people to come to their events. Martin's viewpoint is too football-centric.

Rosey09

November 5th, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

I was a tad disappointed by the book compared to previous Bacon offerings. I actually wish it was shorter - I found myself skipping through chapter long game recaps from each of the four programs that made their way into the book because the games were still pretty fresh in my own memory.

EGD

November 5th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

Well, I am not surprised you feel that way because you have previously made clear that you are one of the people who doesn't mind seeing college football basically become Saturday's version of the NFL.  But Bacon's central point resounds with those of us who became college football fans because we saw qualitative superiority in a game played for reasons other than $$.

Toasted Yosties

November 5th, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

No more Michigan-Notre Dame (and probably no more ND-B1G in the not-too-distant future), Texas-Texas A&M, WVU-Pitt, Kansas-Mizzou, and not to mention the the expanded conference size and getting stuck with Maryland and Rutgers, decreasing the number of times a school like Michigan will meet teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota etc.  A lot of priceless tradition flushed down the toilet.

EGD

November 5th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

I agree, the regional rivalries are a huge part of what makes college football special.  Beating Notre Dame is fun because we all know people who attended ND (or otherwise became fans).  Losing to Sparty sucks for the same reason.  Arkansas may well be as worthy an opponent as ND, but the game won't have that same kind of meaning because who the hell went to Arkansas?  (Okay, I do know like one person, but still).

MGoShoe

November 5th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

...this assertion with specific evidence (you won't be able to).

I became a CFB fan because of its pageantry and because of the tie between the school (my school) and its team. I'm passionate about Michigan continuing to operate an athletics program with the highest level of standards and ethics and expectations about performance, just as I am about the larger institution operating that way in its pedagogy, research and mission to serve as an economic engine for the state of Michigan and this country. 

What I don't understand is the idea of some that a program can be maintained at the historical level of Michigan's without an adaptation to fiscal realities. There's a lot of space between "Saturday's version of the NFL" and Michigan disarming and joining a conference that operates like Ivy League sports. Don't try to shoehorn me into one extreme, because if you do, you won't be successful. 

EGD

November 5th, 2013 at 7:02 PM ^

Well, you have an astonishing number of mgopoints, so I don't have time to go back through too many of your comments, but here are a couple recent examples of things you've said that led me to form my impression of your viewpoint::

  • "During the game, a reporter I follow on Twitter started bitching about the AD having the game sponsored by @Lowes. To which I asked him if he was similarly upset about Absopure ads in the game program. Of course, his response was that his tweet was just a joke.  Revenue Derangement Syndrome. A condition in which reporters, bloggers and fans think that athletic departments run on fairy dust, unicorns, rainbows, and properly mic'd marching bands."
  • "It always amazes me the length people will go to complain about everyting. The same people who constantly bitch and moan about every effort by 1000SSS to increase its revenue through ticket sales, advertisements, licensing, etc (and don't get me wrong, I disagree with many of the tactical decisions they've made) turn around and complain when a wealthy philanthropist has the gall to make the single largest donation in the history of the University of Michigan and do what every other major donor to colleges and universities have done since colleges and universities started soliciting such gifts -- accept the university's offer to name something after him or her. "

Then, of course, you called Bacon's argument (that big money is threatening to corrupt college football to a point of unrecognizablility) "sanctimonous."

MGoShoe

November 5th, 2013 at 10:31 PM ^

...the fact that many specific complaints about the pursuit of revenue by the athletic department are based on a knee jerk negative response to this AD and certain memes pushed by his critics. Not all revenue streams are evil. If you are ok with ads in the game program, then what's the big deal with an advertiser sponsoring game tweets? There's no appreciable difference between the two things. The second comment pointed out the obvious hypocrisy of those who decry revenue from advertising, sponsorships, licensed product sales, etc. but then turn around and complain when a donor makes a remarkably large donation to the athletic department that will help them avoid having to increase the level of commercialization surrounding Michigan athletics. 

So, neither of those support your assertion that I'm ok with CFB becoming the Saturday version of the NFL. But nice try, buddy.

Toasted Yosties

November 5th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

But how does something like that start when you have a professional league that doesn't have to invest money into what may turn into a money-losing minor league and an amateur league that produces billions of dollars (and is invested so it can continue to produce billions)  on the participation of these amateurs that would likely fill said minor league?  Good luck getting that going.

Seth

November 5th, 2013 at 12:20 PM ^

They sorta tried with the XFL; part of McMahon's concept for that was to take the best out of the arena leagues, European leagues, and kids just out of high school who wanted to go pro right away. The thing is nobody really wants to watch James Whitley play football unless he's doing it because he signed up to play for Michigan.

French West Indian

November 5th, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

Kind of a shame that it didn't work out.

The other point with a football & basketball is that minor league doesn't necessarily have to exist in order to accomodate young talent.  There's no reason that the NFL couldn't draft an 18 year old and simply train him (no games) for 1-3 years in order to prep for game readyness.

Obviously a pro team wouldn't like that because it is a risky investment but it's absurd that a talented 18 year old (i.e., adult) football player has virtually no option to be directly compensated for his talent and/or skills.

mGrowOld

November 5th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

""You don't have to do marketing at Michigan, We have the fans. We have the support. We have a great reputation. All you have to do is win. If you win they will come. You just need to make it as affordable as possible for your fans"

I believe this is true.  I also believe that is why we now have a a marketing department.

Thank you for the review - I hadn't planned on reading it but now I will.

M-Wolverine

November 5th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

 

he's the athletic director who you knew wasn't lying when he justified the luxury boxes because they'd keep the advertising out and the other seats affordable

 

Are hilarious. This is the guy who put in the boxes, saying it wouldn't raise prices in the bowl, and they went up anyway, created seat licenses for the stadium, and did lots of things to increase revenue at the fan's expense while nickel and diming the department (not just coaching, but dude would go around shutting off lights in his buildings and instruct staff to take the stairs to save electricity). He did anything but try and keep it as affordable for his fans. But now he's all "money shouldn't matter?"  

Just as many things Brandon gets credit for that Martin actually intiated, Brandon gets blame for things Martin really started. He wasn't the world's worst AD or anything, but his kumbaya moment is laughable.

InterM

November 5th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

when Michigan raised football season ticket prices for the 2011 season (and again in 2012), it was noted, by way of justification, that prices had been held constant for the past seven years.  Since DB replaced Martin in 2010, sounds like Martin made good on his promise to not "raise prices in the bowl."  So, in this case at least, aren't you blaming Martin for something DB did?

Bando Calrissian

November 6th, 2013 at 1:57 AM ^

Remember when Bill Martin took over and systematically took out every single bit of advertising inside the Crisler bowl? Look at a picture between 1999 and 2001. Everything turned from Coke and Absopure to Michigan Basketball and Michigan Basketball.

No one noticed, no one cared. But he did it anyway because it was the right thing to do, and we didn't really need the money. Turned red into black despite the fact, too.

French West Indian

November 5th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

...fuck itself.

How I'd fix college football?

I like anything that makes college football more like the old days.  Freshman in-eligibility is good.

I'd also get rid of all the television access.  Eliminate the Big Ten network (how is it even possible for schools to own an money making enterprise like that anyways?)  Restrict television access on other networks too.  Really, only maybe 1-2 Michigan games needs to be nationally televised per year.  Put the rest of the games on local PBS stations, commercial free.  Return the emphasis to game attendence (which would be enhanced without those fucking TV timeouts).

Traditional regional conferences, i.e., only 10 midwest teams in the Big Ten.

Emphasis on bowl matchups (heavy on  New Year's Day) and no playoffs or convoluted systems trying to match a #1 & #2 team for a mythical championship.  A clear-cut national champion is boring.  Half the fun of college football was arguing over who might be the best team.

Eliminate the Nike/Addidas semi- sponsorship of teams.  Uniforms don't need to be tweeked every two weeks to boost sales of souvenir shit.

I'm sure there's more...but I'm forgetting it now.  Senescence can be a bitch.

UMQuadz05

November 5th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

This combination of this book plus the game on Saturday really has me depressed.  We at Michigan now have an athletic department that is forward-looking and cutting-edge in all the worst possible ways.  We now also have football coaches that are trying to replicate the 70s and 80s on the field, with predictable results.  I don't even know who to be mad at!  Lloyd for not having a successor ready and qualified in 07?  Martin for having his pants down?  I don't know.

Colby Jax

November 6th, 2013 at 1:40 AM ^

Of all the things to be mad at Carr for, why is not "having a successor ready" one of them?

Who the hell does things this way anymore? Michigan is uniquely inbred and the results are not good. Carr should have supported his successor - period.

Michigan Arrogance

November 5th, 2013 at 6:38 PM ^

Bill Martin gets a lot of flack for the whole SailboatBill thing, tho I liked the hypothesis that he intentionally left town to avoid Les Miles as a possibility for HC.

He took over a dept that was in the RED. I mean, losing money every year. The guy is a fiscal conservative- the 1st thing he did was CUT budgets across the entire AD. Then he looked at ticket prices and adjusted them- then built up the Academic Center and made a few relatively minor (but essential) upgrades to Yost, Crisler and the stadium.

Then came the seat liscences adn the suites- technically without raising ticket prices since the licences are "donations." That liscense revenue and the suites (and the BTN) paid for the best stadium improvement one could ask for, the salaries of the Basketball coach and football assistants and the Crisler reno and the Glick. Not to mention the baseball/softball/non-rev sport facilities - especially sonw state street.

He never spend money he didn't need to spend and he doesn't see "marketing" as that essential. I assume he would have a small team of marketing people-say 3-5 - that would think about social media, gameday atmosphere, and ticket promotions. how many marketing ppl do we actually have?

In contrast, DB is BURNING thru money- HD scoreboards everywhere (even for baseball), fucking sky writing, marketing dept that is probably 12-15 ppl (who do nothing but advise him to spend money on skyfuckingwriting). We should be liberal in spending on coaching salaries and facilities,  not bullshit like HD boards for baseball and skyMFERING writing.

 

Bando Calrissian

November 6th, 2013 at 1:54 AM ^

One of my first couple years in the MMB, Bill Martin came to practice (I think it was during Band Week) and brought about a hundred boxes of Pizza House with him. He hung around and shot the shit with all of us. He flat-out told us he wanted to do everything he could to make sure the MMB was taken care of. He told me one-on-one he wanted to give us a FieldTurf practice field so we could practice on what we performed on, but the parking lot revenue the MMB got every week from tailgaters made the folks in Revelli nervous. The MMB ended up getting the turf a few years later, but I always respected how absolutely up-front he was about the whole thing. Every encounter I've had with him was just about the same. As much as I didn't like what he did with the Rodriguez hire, as badly as I think he handled his first two major hires (Amaker and Cheryl Burnett), at the end of the day, he got it. 

He may be a really awkward people person (even to people who know him well), and sure he's a total finance guy who I'm convinced doesn't get the spirit of revenue sports... But Bill Martin had more understanding of Michigan Athletics in his little finger than Dave Brandon's army of marketing minions have combined. And that's the difference.

Always keep in mind the fact that marketing folk like Hunter Lochmann exist to tell people they should spend more money to justify why folks like Hunter Lochmann should exist. There's always a new revenue stream. A mascot. A giant noodle. Skywriting. New point schemes and parking revenue and luxury experiences and the WOW FACTOR. That's what's going on here. Nothing more, nothing less. And Michigan just ends up looking cheap in the process.

Bando Calrissian

November 6th, 2013 at 1:47 AM ^

I loved the book for many reasons already enumerated when it came out. What gets me the most is how un-Bill Martin Bill Martin comes off. LIke, preach to the choir, man. Just where was that for the decade you were pissing off donors?

Though I'll say this: I'll take the way the Bill Martin 1000SSS operated over the Hunter Lochmanns of the world. You knew where Martin stood and you pretty much knew where you were, too, even when he was freezing you out. With DB and the new marketing-heavy regime... I'm half expecting the whole stadium to get reassigned sooner than later at this rate. Nothing is sacred anymore when the almighty dollar is at the end of the donor rainbow. We're all dollar signs now, loyalty be damned.