Mailbag: Brandon Job Security, Basketball Redshirts, Residual Soccer Stuff

Submitted by Brian on July 9th, 2014 at 4:47 PM

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possible future employment?

Brian,

The message boards have a good deal of speculation about Hoke's job security.  At what point will Dave Brandon's job security come into question?  A while back you outlined a number of failures during Brandon's tenure.  To me, the fact that ticket sales are so slow, that even the students seem to have had enough of this BS, has to raise some eyebrows with people in power.  Or is Brandon firmly entrenched as long as wants to be here?

As Brady said, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes."  It's not feeling much like Michigan lately.

Thanks,
James
Class of '93

I don't think Brandon is particularly entrenched.

I've heard chatter that certain people in positions of power would be happy to see a change… a lot of chatter. But I've heard that chatter for over a year now, and predictions that Brandon would be replaced have come and gone. At this point I'm skeptical that the people are inclined to do much, or have the power to do so.

That said, Brandon's now in the same situation Rich Rodriguez (and big swathes of the department he replaced) was: his boss did not hire him, and his performance is in the range where replacing him wouldn't raise eyebrows. It's quite a trick to get the entire student body to hate you.

Gents of MGoBlog -

In these recent times of hardship for the football program, Dave Brandon has taken a lot of heat for his cardboard cutout marketing/branding efforts when it comes to the team and other University athletic programs. There seems to be a large and growing consensus of fans (at least on the MGoBoard) that point out every misstep they believe he makes - there have been quite a few dud ploys he and the AD have rolled out.

However, i'm curious to know if there are any decisions or moves he's made as AD that the MGoPolitburo or wider UofM community have received positively. Have any of the AD's ideas under his leadership had a direct positive impact on any or even one of the school's athletic programs? Whatever the case may be, who are some Athletic Directors who "get it" at their respective institution who you would like to see in charge at Michigan?

LB

The main thing people point to in Brandon's favor is the pile of cash. I'm not that impressed, because you or I could have been appointed AD and sat there wibble-wobbling our lips and Michigan would have seen an enormous uptick in revenue. Brandon's first official day on the job was the UConn game when the luxury boxes opened. The Big Ten Network and the expiration of the Big Ten rights deal provided another large bump.

What revenue that is attributable to Brandon comes from piling a bunch of rights together and selling them in a pile to IMG and testing the outer limits of what people will pay for Michigan football tickets. That's good if you're running a public company and your stock options are about to vest, but there are indicators everywhere that the fanbase has finally been worn down. Brandon is chipping away at fan goodwill constantly, and I worry about the long term impact of the clear divide between big chunks of the fanbase (and all of the students) and Brandon.

Meanwhile, what do I care about the amount of money flowing into Michigan's pockets? It does me no good. It doesn't seem to do anyone any good. The Big Ten has been the nation's best money extraction device for some years now and they still end up hiring Tim Beckmann. Meanwhile, every athletic department in the Big Ten is trying to find ways to launder their piles of cash by plowing it into minor sports that hold the same interest for me no matter how well they're supported.

I do like the legends patches (if only they'd stop screwing with people's numbers), but the rest of the changes he's made to the Michigan gameday experience have been negative.

As for potential replacements, there are a couple of Michigan alums at prominent schools: Jeff Long is at Arkansas and Warde Manuel at UConn. Long got handed a poop sandwich when Bobby Petrino had his motorcycle sexytime accident, but recovered impressively by pirating Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin. Whatever your personal opinion of Bielema, that is a coup of a hire for a school like Arkansas. He was just named the chair of the CoFoPoff's selection committee, as well, so he's respected within the AD community.

Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, who briefly made Buffalo not the worst team in D-I, and then ended up hiring Kevin Ollie at UConn, though that was not much of a decision. Paul Pasqualoni was already in place when he was hired at UConn; he fired him and replaced him with ND DC Bob Diaco after taking a swing at MSU DC Pat Narduzzi. That may or may not work out but that process seems pretty sensible to me.

Importantly, both of these guys have experience in the job they'd have at Michigan.

Basketball redshirts

Could you give odds/estimates on the likelihood of all six freshmen redshirting next year?  At the end of the regular season we expected Doyle and probably Wilson to redshirt.  Now they're both potentially heavy rotation players while two unheralded wing players signed up that may play key roles or may redshirt.  Help us sort out the situation.

Doyle, Wilson, and Chatman are all going to play. I don't expect Hatch to. MAAR/Dawkins is where it gets interesting. Michigan has tried to redshirt guys who are young and need some polishing, but both MAAR and Dawkins are older than average freshmen. For MAAR that's just because he's older; for Dawkins it's because he took a prep year.

It would make sense for one to redshirt with Michigan looking at a small (one member?) 2015 class, but with the NBA attrition these days you might want to play both in an effort to see which guy can help you more down the stretch and prepare both to take over for LeVert and possibly Irvin. I'm guessing everyone plays.

Bagmen conspiracy

There have been three high level recruits who have decommitted this recruiting season.  My question relates to the bagman article mgoblog referred to a couple months back: is there a possibility that there are Michigan bagmen who disapprove Brady Hoke and have pulled their resources from high level recruits in an effort to more quickly dump Hoke?  I realize there are many factors that play in, I just can't help but wonder after reading the bagman article.

-mp2

No. While I imagine bagmen play into the recruitment of one of the guys who has decommitted, the situation there was more local guys getting involved with family members than anything Michigan did or did not do.

I don't know if Michigan actually has bagmen per se. It doesn't seem like their style, and it doesn't really seem like their style to remove support even if they do exist.

Occam's Razor suggests that the guys who have decommitted have done so because they saw last season's football team and are a little leery of signing on with a program that might be seeing a coaching change in the near future.

[After the JUMP: some soccer stuff.]

Brian,

Reading your pieces regarding the World Cup run by the USMNT as well as following the O'Bannon trial stuff has left me with an interesting question.  Do you think that significant change with the NCAA would lead to significant changes in sports like soccer? 

College soccer in this country has a history of sending players to the USMNT (Dempsey, Zusi, Omar, etc) but it seems like MLS is now pushing more towards developing young players and getting them into a professional environment sooner (Yedlin, Luis Gil).  Klinsmann has talked in the past about the benefits of a professional environment opposed to playing college soccer. 

If changes came down the pipe regarding likeness rights or paying players, how would you foresee schools utilizing the new rules?  Are they going to continue to focus on revenue sports or will the non-revenue stuff see the changes as well?  What about if the power conferences break off to form their own division away from the NCAA? Just curious as to your thoughts of how NCAA changes would affect other non-major sports.

Thanks!
Ben
Des Moines, IA

College soccer has been flogged as a hindrance to the USMNT for far too long. Soccer's like reading: if you can't do it by 18 there ain't nothing a college can do to help you. The NCAA's practice and game restrictions are an increasingly small issue since a lot of top-flight prospects either skip college entirely or leave after a year or two.

They can do this now because there are people willing to pay them to play. NCAA structure is less of a problem than the fact that there were few (or no) alternatives. MLS is gradually changing this. They keep adding teams, and now there's a push towards having USL PRO affiliate reserve teams.

So, yeah, in a world where a small number of schools can go do something innovative without having to get it past Indiana State, there is the possibility of revamping a portion of college soccer to make more sense in the larger context. One way to do this is to ignore the NCAA altogether. BYU's team plays in the PDL, which is roughly the fourth tier of soccer in the country. They have to go to class and keep on track to graduate; they are otherwise completely free to do whatever they want to soccer their best soccer.

Zoom out a bit. Chicago's currently playing a kid named Harrison Shipp, who was a homegrown signing for them. (MLS now has a rule that kids you developed in your academy for at least a year can be signed without going through the draft.) He spent a year at ND before signing for MLS. There's a kid at Stanford everyone's hype about who the Sounders will scoop up in another year.

It would make sense to formalize these relations, to take a number of colleges who are open to the idea and make them extensions of these MLS teams' academies. The NCAA could allow this; if they don't the colleges can just go do it on their own, like BYU. This will help fix the current problem with college soccer: it's got the brands but it doesn't have the level of play to make it attractive. You might have something if Washington and Ohio State and Northwestern were local affiliates for MLS teams.

This is probably too weird to fit in the NCAA even in the upcoming autonomy era, but there's no reason every sport has to be sanctioned by Mark Emmert. Sometimes NCAA sports are just dumb. Don't get me started on baseball.

Futbol!  

General Comment - I think a lot of the country got caught up in the World Cup and while we don't want MGoBlog to turn into MGoUSMNT, I think it would be welcomed to build a little on your recent coverage before fall.

With hindsight being 20-20, what decisions (with tactics or personnel) would you have made differently, building off of your game columns?

In hindsight? I would have replaced Davis with Donovan, Johannsson with Eddie Johnson, and Green with Mo Edu. Davis was nonentity in the Germany game, the US had no replacement for Altidore, and they had no defensive midfield backup once they decided that Beckerman and Jones were playing together.

If I had Klinsmann's roster, though, I don't think I would have done that much different other than roll with Beckerman against Belgium. Removing him turned out to be a major error that left Belgium pile and piles of space. I would have started Diskerud against Germany instead of Davis, with Mix at the tip of the diamond and Bradley/Jones as the "shuttlers" beside, but that hypothetical change wasn't likely to do much about the result.

There wasn't much else to do. Klinsmann was repeatedly, literally hamstrung with forced substitutions. The logical assumption after Johannsson went in for surgery as soon as the WC was over was that he was not available for selection, or at least that picking him would be a big gamble. Then you're down to Wondolowski as your one true striker. That's some bad luck.

I don't think most casual fans realize that we never got to see Bradley or Dempsey play their actual positions/roles in this tournament with Altidore's injury.  How would the product on the field looked if those three players were in their natural spots/roles?  Do you think it would have affected any outcomes? 

Oh, I don't know, man. We saw how Germany's back line got stretched over and over again by Algeria's Islam Slimani. That kind of thing is definitely in Altidore's wheelhouse and would have given the US a pressure outlet, allowing them to have more of the game. And then we saw a major uptick in USA possession once Wondolowski came in, as Dempsey finally got to drop back into the midfield and combine with Bradley.

That's the part that really hurts. With Altidore up top there was a clear link pattern: defenders get it to Bradley—Bradley, Dempsey, and Altidore interchange. Cutting out Altidore and replacing him with either Zusi, Bedoya, or Davis was a huge downgrade.

I do think the US would have had more possession and found more balanced games. They may not have turned that extra possession into goals, but it's hard to judge Klinsmann for not delivering the pretty possession soccer he promised once an admittedly irreplaceable chunk of the team goes out.

Comments

BlueFordSoftTop

July 9th, 2014 at 5:17 PM ^

 

 

After the fiasco constituting the hire of he who must not be mentioned, the University administration is likely to investigate candidates for leadership succession beyond all doubt. So I invite speculation who could possibly replace Dave Brandon as Athletic Director. Because I have zero notion concerning who both could and would be willing to fulfill the position.  I say this as a Brandon detractor; I simply have no ideas for superior candidates.

 

ST3

July 9th, 2014 at 6:44 PM ^

I just finished reading Bo's Lasting Lessons. He wrote:

 

Today Brad Bates is the athletic director at Miami of Ohio— and they love him, there, too. They love him! He’s done a marvelous job, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing his name whenever a big job opens up. I would not be surprised if he becomes Michigan’s athletic director down the road. If he doesn’t, it’ll be our loss.

I have no idea what Brad Bates is up to these days, but that's a pretty good endorsement right there.

EDIT: quick google search shows he's the AD at BC.

GoBlueInNYC

July 10th, 2014 at 7:25 AM ^

I don't know anything about Bates, but that quote actually got me thinking about the requirements for an AD. It might be (hypothetically speaking) that Bates is really good from the sports side, he makes good coaching hires, knows how to promote teams, engages with the student body. But good ADs need to have a good business/money sense. Despite Brian's total dismissal of that being a difficult part of the job, the fact is that Bill Martin was hired as AD specifically because Michigan's Athletic Department was running in the red and letting all their facilities degrade despite being a huge, popular school with very successful athletic programs.

Given all the money involved in revenue sports these days, it really is a job that requires some business sense and knowing how to allocate funds. Michigan's Athletic Department's own history shows that. (I think Brian way undersells the difficulty of running the department in that sense.)

CarrIsMyHomeboy

July 9th, 2014 at 5:26 PM ^

What signs are there that Schlissel cares to even evaluate a sports guy's (Brandon's) work record?

Given his hard-science/academic-centric background, I imagine there isn't much evidence of it. (...) Except for that one beaming data point about him wanting the job and therefore wanting to expand his horizons and influence. Which looms, sure, but also isn't specific.

I'm still not sure how high it's going to sit on his priority list. How loud can the chatter he hears off-stage possibly be?

Wolverine In Exile

July 9th, 2014 at 6:22 PM ^

While we here on the website obsess over facility upgrades for water polo coverage, schlissel's got a lot coming at him as soon as he steps in the job 15 July. There's issues with aca compliance in the M health system, a potentially huge re-org in the College of Engineering, potentially two college deans needing to be replaced in succession within a year, and I've heard that he really wants to get on a national stage in establishing better nat'l security credentials for the university in concert with Simon at MSU. Those are issues far outweighing the potential replacement of an AD who has the department in the black, has grown nonrevenue sports, and has not presided over major scandal. Caveats apply (one being if 100k streak stops and/or Brandon pisses off one huge donor), but by in large i think Brandon is safe on the argument that the new pres has bigger fish to fry right away.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

July 9th, 2014 at 8:10 PM ^

Plus we don't even know how much Schlissel even knows about the sports side of things.  Sometimes the eggheads are thoroughly ignorant about that stuff.  Wallace Loh at Maryland is the prime example.  Schlissel may have things like the 100k streak on his radar or he may be utterly unaware.

Penders

July 9th, 2014 at 7:56 PM ^

Yes, I do think Schlissel would like to evaluate the record of a person who is one of the most high profile people at the university and who has greatly angered the student body as well as many alums and money-spending fans. His personal background and interests is secondary to the inevitable stream of emails, letters and comments he will be hearing about this very controversial figure.

And just an aside, I don't really consider Brandon "a sports guy."

bronxblue

July 9th, 2014 at 8:59 PM ^

I think it is a bit strong to say Brandon has andered "many alums and money-spending fans."  What hurt him this year is a crappy schedule that is (largely) beyond his control.  Sure, people on this blog act as if he's personally trying to destroy UM, but to most people the reason they don't want to spend money on football tickets is because the team isn't that good and the schedule looks like crap.  Next year I'd expect a near-full return of ticket sales with MSU and OSU on the schedule. 

gwkrlghl

July 9th, 2014 at 5:28 PM ^

I too am frustrated with Brandon's apparent lack of concern for fans and their loyality, but I doubt he's on any real hot seat.

He's gotten some great coaches since being here (Bakich, Nussmeier, Mattison, KB Arico, etc.). Whether being at all deserving of it, revenue has jumped since he's been here and he's done a lot to upgrade facilities.

I'm struggling to remember a lot of stuff, but you could definitely do a lot worse as an AD. I think our main gripe right now is that he treats Michigan Athletics as a business instead of a beloved religion

Penders

July 9th, 2014 at 7:57 PM ^

Hard to give Brandon credit for raising the level of the coordinators when that has been a reaction to lowering the level of the head coach (who is paid as an elite guy even with a losing record at Ball State/SDSU).

Also, Nussmeier has not called a play here yet. Mattison isn't coming off a very impressive year at all. We aren't in a position to bask in the greatness of our coordinators at this time, no matter how much we pay them.

 

bronxblue

July 9th, 2014 at 9:04 PM ^

Mattison's defense was fine; most advanced metrics show incremental improvements; the last two games shouldn't overshadow a pretty good defensive effort all season.  As for Mussmeier, yes he hasn't called a play, but (a) we have seen some good offenses come out of Alabama, and (b) the guy he replaced we DEFINITELY saw quite a bit of and it is safe to say he couldn't be worse.

alum96

July 9th, 2014 at 10:25 PM ^

I think the "great" term is levied far too easily - Mattison is a very good D-coordinator.  I would not call him great.  Beilein is "great".  No one in our football program is great right now.  And Brandon did not get Mattison per se - he came because of the Hoke hire.  So if you want to do transitive theory... I guess you credit Brandon then.

Also if Brandon had the budget of his predecessor he would have been hamstrung just the same - we didnt want to pay $350K? back them to help RR on defense and now we are throwing nearly a million at both our coordinators.  Most people in their jobs would look "great" if given resources 2-3x their successor. 

As for Nuss - people say he did "great" at Bama - guess what anyone would have done great at Bama with that talent level.  He didnt have to deal with a RS FR QB or anything, he had 2 years of a very experienced QB, a load of NFL talent on the OL, NFL type RBs, etc.   I don't know if he is "great" or "not great" - but his work at places with lesser talent would tell me more about Nuss than being at Bama.  The talent at Bama the past 3-4 years would make any coordinator look fine and dandy.

So I am not calling our coordinators great - they both seem above average.  I think Mattison we know what his level is, its somewhere below elite and above average.  Where it is exactly I don't know but I don't see it as great.  Nuss is more of an open question because he seemed to do good things at lesser BCS type schools then was handed a Rolly Royce at Bama - and he is still young and can improve.

That said they both are being paid as if they are the top 5-7 coordinators in the country.  Are we getting good value for that money?  Most people don't care because UM football is an infinite honey pot but if you want to judge an AD it's about value for the money as well.  I don't know myself - I see we are pissing money in every direction on our coaches in the football program for thus far mediocre results.  That could be for many reasons outside their control but I can't put any coordinator (Mattison) on a team that was 8th place in a sh** conference as great esp when his defense was not elite.  And I could put 20 offensive coordinators into that Bama offense and they would have done +/- 5% of what Nuss did.

bronxblue

July 10th, 2014 at 11:25 AM ^

I never said Mattison was great; I agree that he hasn't shown much of it yet.  That said, there are, what, 5-10 really "elite" defensive coordinators out there, and even some of them (like Narduzzi) can't be divorced from the head coaches who themselves are defensive-minded.  I do think Mattison is a very good recruiter who knows how to call a good defense; that's pretty good given the past 10 years or so of UM football (and yes, 2006 was kinda an aberration).  

Nussmeier is somewhat unknown, but he did well at Washington as well and did so with less talent.  He's also a young guy who has potential to get better.  So while he's not an elite offensive coordinator (again, something I've not said) yet, he definitely feels better than Borges, which really could be the difference between 7-6 and, I don't know, 9-4 with a competent offensive plan.  

Yooper

July 9th, 2014 at 5:27 PM ^

"While I imagine bagmen play into the recruitment of one of the guys who has decommitted..."   

   This is a very serious accusation.  Who is Brian referring to?

"I don't know if Michigan actually has bagmen per se. It doesn't seem like their style, and it doesn't really seem like their style to remove support even if they do exist." 

   This is a rather odd comment.  I know we all have to be skeptical when it comes to big time college sports-and there is no one more skeptical, or cynical, than Brian.  Is Brian implying that we have something other that "bagmen per se."  What is that-bagmen with small bills only?  And what does the last comment mean?  Is he saying that if Michigan knew that there were bagmen out there Michigan wouldn't do anything about it?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

woodfeld

July 9th, 2014 at 5:48 PM ^

Or more specifically, George Campbell's uncle.

What makes this extra strange is that Campbell flew up to AA on his (or his family's) own dime 3 or 4 times last year.  If they are that swayed by bagmen, how are they flying him up there that many times?  In conclusion, maybe M does have bagmen.

Real Tackles Wear 77

July 9th, 2014 at 5:32 PM ^

If you follow recruiting at all, even just Ace's weekly roundups it should be obvious to whom he is referring and I tend to agree with him. It used to be faux pas or just considered sour grapes for people to complain "they got paid off" when a player chooses to go elsewhere than Michigan (especially the SEC) when they once seemed very likely to go blue, but in the wake of the bagmen expose that came out a couple of months ago, there's no need to pretend that it's not going on. I sure hope Michigan never gets involved with bagmen, but I share Brian's belief that it cost us one particular guy this cycle.

GoBlueInNYC

July 10th, 2014 at 7:35 AM ^

Regarding your second question, I was also struck by that. For someone as cynical/skeptical about the current atmosphere around college athletics, that seemed like a pretty stark moment of Michigan exceptionalism.

Personally, I just kind of accept my cognitive dissonance around bagmen, booster money, and Michigan vs. the rest of college football. But that bit really stuck out.

The Carter 16

July 9th, 2014 at 5:30 PM ^

I think we are stuck with him for some time. They won't replace someone that high up in the organization despite the obvious facts listed above demonstrating his alienation of the fan base, especially considering he was a regent iirc before his appointment to AD. The options are there if he vacates for what was a rumored senate campaign or some other reason, but I don't see a new AD happening anytime soon unless Brandon himself steps down.

Penders

July 9th, 2014 at 7:37 PM ^

If Hoke doesn't get better and Brandon is allowed to make a second hire in a year or two, people will be livid. We can only hope he will be gone before Beilein retires too. In addition to being good, one of the beautiful things about the basketball program the last few years is it doesn't have the Dave Brandon stink on it like football does.

I Like Burgers

July 9th, 2014 at 5:35 PM ^

Brian, you left out Papa John from your possible Brandon replacements.  He graduated from Ball State, which is of course Brady Hoke's alma mater.  And he's in commericals with Peyton Manning a lot, so he probably knows about football and sports.  The ties are undeniable.

ShadowStorm33

July 10th, 2014 at 12:35 PM ^

Worse commercials, yes; papa usually comes off like a douche. But worse pizza? No way in hell. Honestly I think Papa John's is far and away the best of the mainstream delivery chains (better than Hungry Howie's, miles ahead of Domino's and Little Ceasar's). I don't think you find anything better until you get to the gormet chains (CPK) or good local places (Pizza House, etc).

Jonesy

July 10th, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

Are you nuts?  Papa John's is the bottom of the barrel.  Their pizza tastes like cardboard and its only redeeming quality is getting a side of garlic butter to dip that cardboard into.  Bonus if you're still hungry you can do this with the pizza box and it'll taste the same.

trueblueintexas

July 9th, 2014 at 5:45 PM ^

I have never seen a fan base so obsessed with the AD. Most fan bases care about who or what the AD does only when it is time for a coaching change. There are many roles of an AD, but the primary areas include: 

- Bringing in money (and managing it)

- Managing facilities

- Managing the personel of the athletic department (hiring/firing)

- Being the representative and/or advocate for athletics to the administration and advisory boards

- Being the public face when needed

- Compliance

Brandon is actually pretty good at all of those things. Despite Brian's assertions, no, you could not put any idiot in Brandon's position and things would have run the same the past few years. Ask Maryland or any of the other 90+% of schools whose athletic departments lose money.

I get that Brandon has three egregious flaws 1) He encroaches on the no advertising tradition in Michigan stadium  2) Engagement with the student body is prickly at best 3) Ticket prices continue to rise.

I agree with issue #1, this is something Michigan fans hold near and dear and it should not be messed with.

Regarding issue 2, this is mainly specifc to football. Attendance for other sports is doing ok. This also is a nationwide issue driven more by the students than the athletic departments. If the students don't want to show, what is an AD supposed to do? Leave a big open spot in the stadium waiting for them to show up?

Regarding issue 3, this is true across the country. Prices for commodities go up when there is demand. As a fan, it is almost impossible to view this rationally. Of course we want lower ticket prices. I want to pay $.99 for a gallon of gas like I once did but that isn't happening and I get it.

KBLOW

July 9th, 2014 at 5:59 PM ^

As for issue #3: Demand for tickets is dropping yet prices are still rising.  Your gasoline analogy is a bit of a strawman.  Many, many people have to have use gas no matter what the price and as population continues to grow there's going to be more and more people who need gas.  That is nothing like the situation with UM football. In fact, Brandon is exacerbating a problem that will make even fewer people feel a "need" for a football ticket.  Prices don't need to be as high as they are.  And even if you truly believe that they are fair market value, the AD should do a much better job making the home schedules more worth the money.  

pearlw

July 9th, 2014 at 6:17 PM ^

The home schedule is just a one year issue and alot of it is caused by the B1G making Michigan go on the road to MSU two years in a row. I know people will come back and say that Brandon should have made that happen...but he doesnt have veto power to blow up the league over it and Im VERY certain that he wanted to avoid it given all the grief this schedule has given him.

Next years nonconference games are Oregon St, BYU, UNLV combined with conference games of MSU, OSU, NW, Rutgers. I think its safe to say that the home schedule is not an issue next year and this would be much less of an issue if the MSU game didnt get swtched years.

 

pearlw

July 10th, 2014 at 5:37 AM ^

Nowhere near as bad in 2016...Wisconsin, Colorado, Central Florida. Part of the reason 2014 is bad is the high profile West teams (Wisc, Neb, Iowa) arent on the schedule also this year. Yes - th even years should always be a bit worse than the odd years but 2014 is an outlier.

funkywolve

July 10th, 2014 at 11:10 AM ^

CU hasn't had a winning record since 2005.  Since then they've gone:  2-10, 6-7, 5-7, 3-9, 5-7, 3-10, 1-11, 4-8.  They hired a new coach in 2013 so it'll be interesting to see if they can turn it around, but right now, the only thing attractive about that game is the name.

Central Florida could be interesting, but I'm curious how they are going to do without Bortles.

trueblueintexas

July 9th, 2014 at 7:05 PM ^

Walk around the stadium on game day and see how much money people invest as part of their fandom. Custom RV's for the primary purpose of tailgating, expensive food spreads, etc. if I am an AD and I see how much people are willing to spend to watch my sport, my first inclination will be to figure out how to get more of that money into Michigan's pocket and less in the RV dealers pocket. With any open market there will be a tipping point. If attendance decline for non students truly starts to happen as a trend, I'm sure the AD will make necessary changes.