Mailbag: Guess What I Got A Lot Of Email About Comment Count

Brian September 30th, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 12.20.41 PM

Michigan football made Al Jazeera's front page. Hooray?



In regards to the way both Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon have handled the whole situation regarding Shane Morris, I have to wonder why we have not heard from the AD since the game.  I am concerned that the absence of any comment on the situation screams that he is trying to distance himself from the whole situation.  By doing this, I feel that he is jeopardizing the search for a new head coach.  Parents would have second thoughts on sending their sons to play for Hoke, while potential coaching candidates would have second thoughts on working for a man who keeps quiet in times of trouble, I know that I would.

I live in Arkansas and thought back to the way that Jeff Long handled the Bobby Petrino situation in April on 2012.  Four days after the accident, when it was to come out that Petrino may have covered up the accident Long placed Petrino on paid leave while he did his own investigation.  6 days after that Petrino was fired for just cause.  That is the kind of leadership I like to see in the workplace.

I will end this e-mail with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. as I think it speaks loudly as to what is going on now.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Don [ed: Not That Don]

Dave Brandon's 52-hour absence during a PR crisis magnitudes greater than the one Michigan faced when he was hired speaks volumes. We were all temporarily on board the Brandon Express because he came in and talked in his gibberish way to the media about stretchgate. He spearheaded the U's reaction to the investigation, and because his one skill is handwaving at things this seemed brilliant. That was a thing that deserved handwaving.

That PR crisis did not feature literally dozens of prominent opinion-makers on college football calling for Hoke's immediate dismissal, nor did Michigan show up on Good Morning America or ABC World News Tonight. This is so much worse.

And now Dave Brandon is a ghost. When the University of Michigan desperately needs someone to step forth and be Adam Silver, they get a single 1 AM statement from the guy in charge, one that directly contradicts his own football coach. Whatever this is, it doesn't feel like an attempt to save anyone's job.

They learned nothing.


Since some people are defending the Morris incident by saying "its an isolated incident and only getting attention since we are losing", I think its time to talk about Brendan Gibbons. If that incident came out now (post Ray Rice) how would it play?  Also, its another incident where you are left to wonder whether Brady Hoke is (1) devious or (2) dumb - a question that as alumni and fans of what the university stands for we should not be asking.  


The thing that makes Brandghazi even more inexplicable is that they already had something like this happen to them with the Gibbons thing, where their vagueness and dissembling led Brady Hoke to claim a guy who had been expelled from the university wasn't playing because of a "family matter."

They experienced a lesser version of the media blitz that they intensified with their stonewalling, gathering ugly press. What did they learn from that? Absolutely nothing. This is the PR equivalent of Shane Morris stumbling after a hard hit to the head against Ohio State and staying in the game.

And in the light of the most recent disaster, doesn't it seem a lot more plausible that Michigan was lying about Gibbons's "muscle injury" against Ohio State? We can't trust them about anything anymore.

Why Maryland?


While I think a boycott is a good idea, I'm curious as to why you want to wait until the last home game to do it?

Mostly I thought the idea would be better if given enough time to gather a critical mass, and that it would be easier to convince people to stay away from a game that was not a night game against a theoretically sexier opponent or homecoming.

Also I wanted to give the powers that be some extra time to get rid of people. This isn't just Hoke, after all. It is also Brandon, and while you can chop the head coach off right now without raising an eyebrow canning Brandon might take some more time to canvass donors, point at the raging tire fire, and say "I hope we can agree that this is very bad and we need to move on to someone not widely hated."

I am all for people doing something for the Penn State game. A suggestion: replace GO with FIRE and BLUE with BRANDON in chants.

[After THE JUMP: more emails in this vein, and a random game theory Q]

Going or not going?

Hey Brian,

I got married this summer. Yay, right?  Well, my wife's gift to me for our wedding was two tickets to the Rutgers game (we live in NYC).  She shelled out nearly $500 for two 50-yard line tickets (on a teacher's salary, mind you).  My question: What do I do now?  Do I wear scarlet? Do I make a pun-y sign? Do I boycott the game (this would definitely upset the wife; something I probably shouldn't do 6 weeks into marriage).


Y'all can go to anything you want to. I'm not judging anyone who goes or does not go to any Michigan game the rest of the season. There was a comment left on the game column from a guy who said he was dying of bone cancer wondering what he should do with his nephew in re: going to a game. GO. Fergodsakes, go. Buy season tickets to basketball, but go.

But if you're discontent with where we are now, just do something. Anything. Students, here's a petition. If you're going to a game, bring a sign that tells people how you feel. You don't have to opt out.

But I'm asking you to participate. Michigan is not a business. It is a community. We need you write a regent, write something on the internet, write the president, put a bag on your head, hold up a sign saying THIS IS NOT MICHIGAN. We need you to tell anyone who will listen what is wrong and how to fix it. We need you to say that this is not who we are, that we do not accept the kind of response to controversy Michigan is peddling.

We need to act like a small town now. If you don't go, okay. If you go, okay, But be mad, and show it.

Michigan men for AD?

If Michigan decides to make the change we all hope they make at AD, do you think Michigan should make an effort to look at any AD candidates other than those with Michigan ties? I admittedly know very little about how good Manuel or Bates would be, but I saw some non-Michigan sports people on twitter throw out some names like the Louisville AD or others.

Manuel and Bates might be very qualified for the job, just curious if you thought it would make sense to go along the lines of the search for a new university president and try to get the best person regardless of their ties to the university. Or if in the position of AD, it does help to find someone who is qualified and has ties to the university.

Thanks and Go Blue.

J. Madrox

If they're going to be making a change before they install a new coach I'm fine with going after a set of people you have a lot of information about and are likely to want the job. You want the new guy in an settled as fast as possible so he can start working towards whoever the next coach is going to be.

Unlike Brandon and Hoke, they are Michigan Men who happen to look like qualified candidates for the job Michigan would offer them. They have worked their way up through the athletic administration ranks by being successful at the job Michigan is (or at least should be) looking to fill.

Is this a question?

We are not making enough out of the fact that Brady Hoke, who says he would have wanted to be a Secret Service officer if not a football coach, is having a public relations meltdown that hinges on "dissembling about not being aware of something it's your job to be aware of" at the exact same time the Secret Service got caught dissembling about the fact that an emotionally disturbed veteran was able to jump over the White House's front fence and run into the East Room before being apprehended.

There has been some innuendo suggesting that my mailbag question is not a question, but I stand by it, and a medical staff statement on the question/statement distinction will be forthcoming at [mumbles] o'clock. And, frankly, I don't appreciate my character, when it comes to knowing what is and is not a question, being questioned.



Also increasing the eerieness factor here: Yesterday's edition of ABC World News Tonight led with the White House invader story and followed it with Shane Morris stumbling around.

Game theory you probably don't care about much.

In the podcast you said you always go for 2 down 17 in the 4th?  But if you just kick the extra point that puts you down 16, which is, as you put it, 2.5 possessions. 

I don't understand what going for 2 gets you?  If you make the 2 point try your down 15 points still 2 (maybe .25) possessions.  If you miss you're down a complete 3 possessions. 

Isn't it better to be down 2.5 possessions than 3, and isn't the risk not worth being down "2.25" possessions?


Dave C. 

I look forward to the day when I get to stop explaining what you should do when you score and you're still down multiple possessions. Today is not that day, though.

If you are down 23 points you need three touchdowns to tie, and you need two of those touchdowns to come with two-point conversions attached. If you don't make one of those two-point conversions you need another score. So you're going for two twice and one once no matter what order you go in.

Going for two early is an advantage because you have more information. If you go for two and miss, you know you're down a full three scores and you don't kick deep. If you get it you're a little more justified in kicking deep.

There are other situations in which this is clearer. Let's say you're down 15 and score a touchdown with four minutes left. If you go for two immediately you then know if you're down seven (and can kick deep) or nine (and must onside). If you kick the extra point you're not sure which is the superior strategy because the result of the two point conversion is still undetermined.

The point here is that you're not really down 2.5 or 2.75 possessions. You're down exactly 2 or exactly 3 and are trying to figure out which is the case.

[One basic game theory rule for football: always do everything as quickly as possible. If you have to go for two, go for two. If you have timeouts on defense and need the ball back, use them as quickly as you can. The worst thing you can do in that situation is let the opponent run 40 seconds off and keep a timeout.]

That headshot seems unsporting, chaps.


Please comment as to why, when Morris was hit and clearly dazed, that no one came to his defense. Not one player got in the Minnesota defenders face. Not one Michigan man challenged him to a fist fight in the parking lot for striking their quarterback. Not one coach was ranting or raving on the sideline. It was like no one cared. Are we too nice? Do we not care? If this had been done to the quarterback from another team, all hell would have broken out. We are truly a team of Jellyfish.


Greg Vallie

I don't know. For that to happen with zero response after Gardner took a cheap shot at the end of the Notre Dame game is very frustrating. You don't need to get in a punch-up and get ejected to let the opponent know that is not behavior they're going to get away with, but at some point you need to show some pride.


Ali G Bomaye

September 30th, 2014 at 3:55 PM ^

Any boycott of ticket purchases that is large enough to affect the bottom line will result in Brandon's dismissal far before he gets a chance to "correct" for the missing revenue by putting advertising in the stadium.  If Brandon is fired after all this, the new guy will probably have a list of "what not to do as Michigan AD" that prominently includes stadium advertising.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:36 PM ^

Not sure about the new guy and in stadium advertising. The new guy would face some serious challenges financially. First, Im not sure whether any continued financial obligations to Hoke or Brandon would be considered as part of their budget. Second, Brandon has really increased the operating costs of the whole department in terms of number of teams, facilities, and other expenses. The increased revenue he has generated is needed to support those. Finally, some have suggested throwing large amount of money at the new coach. All of these add up to the AD needing all of the existing sources of revenue and maybe even additional forms. It will be hard for the new AD to turn back some of Brandon's revenue initiatives without dropping sports or making other cuts.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:29 PM ^

Does boycotting hurt the bottom line that much? Tickets have already been purchased. Sure you may not buy concessions now but the bulk of your money has already been given out. Sure a near empty stadium is embarrassing as hell but it also tells the world we are pissed, which is a good thing. But not totally sure about the bottom line.


September 30th, 2014 at 3:47 PM ^

Not sure if this belongs here.... Brian - the next time you or one of your staff has a chance to ask Hoke a question, please consider asking him, "Coach, you have always placed the highest importance on winning the B1G. Even in your first season when everyone lauded your success, you were quick to point out that you failed because you didn't win the B1G. If you fail in your goal for the fourth consecutive year, will you consider resigning?"

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September 30th, 2014 at 3:49 PM ^

All of my college buddies are coming back for penn state weekend. We can't decide if we should tailgate and then not go to the game, or not tailgate and do literally anything other than think about michigan football. Thoughts or suggestions?


September 30th, 2014 at 4:01 PM ^

I guess my advice is do whatever you all think you'd enjoy the most. My friends all live out of state, so when they come visit, we just try to have fun and not worry about sports or our fantasy football league cause that tends to bum one of us out.

So I guess if you guys think you'd enjoy tailgating, you should do that. But me? I'd want to stay away from the stuff that is stressing me out and bringing me down cause that shit will just ruin my mood, if only for a little while.

Fuck, it sucks thinking of Michigan football like that...


October 1st, 2014 at 3:12 AM ^

Tailgate at the bus and then go to the game.  We may all hate Brandon and want Hoke fired, but if people are coming in from California and I'm not sure where else for one game a year at least go to the game, root for the players, and try to enjoy the experience.  There are Michigan fans living abroad who would've loved to have been able to be in the stadium last Saturday in spite of what an awful game it was, as hard as that might be to believe.


September 30th, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

Brandon was front and center during the stretching thing because he could project an image of coming in and saving the day.  Now that it's happening under his own watch, he can't do that, and thus the most self-aggrandizing thing he can do is run and hide.


September 30th, 2014 at 3:53 PM ^


If you have timeouts on defense and need the ball back, use them as quickly as you can. The worst thing you can do in that situation is let the opponent run 40 seconds off and keep a timeout. 


Caveat: Unless you are Michigan, in which case you somehow actually move slower during your hurry up than a team intentionally running down the clock.  

Oregon Wolverine

September 30th, 2014 at 3:53 PM ^

Our program has no credibility on any stage with Brandon and Hoke around.  First with App State, now with Concussion Gate, no one should respect us.  Not opponents.  Certainly not recruits.  This is a full fledged debacle.  Now Brandon and Hoke are pointing fingers. For the first time in my 48 years and two degrees, I'm ashamed of my school.  What would Bo say?  He'd hang is head, then he'd explain to them in plain speak:

Time for Brandon and Hoke stand up like Michigan Men and take responsibility, and resign. 

Hire Lloyd Carr as Interim Coach and Dierdorf as Interim AD.  Ask Dan to form a search committee for both positions.  No competent coach is going to want to be told what to do by Brandon.


At the same time, put all the players and staff through concussion training in all sports.  I did it as part of my daughter's freshman volleyball team, and I'm not even a coach.  They taught my daughters teammates to look out for her too.  The men and women playing varsity M deserve the same.  The coaching and medical staff are equally at fault, although it's penultimately Brady's failure. 


September 30th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

All indications are that Lloyd Carr supports Brady Hoke completely, and as an honorable man he would refuse to take part in any manner in pushing the man out, even if it meant nothing more than taking over for him. 

Less generously, there are a number of people who feel that Mr. Carr will need to be told in no uncertain terms that he will have no influence over the direction of the Athletic Department moving forward.

I hope that if we do need an interim coach, Gary Moeller would make himself available.  If not, we will have to make do with the staff we have right now.

But really, our priorities should be (1) Interim AD, (2) Coaching search, (3) AD search.  Forget the idea of an interim coach; Brady Hoke can be the designated lame duck just as well as anybody else they bring in.  The AD search can take months, but a new coach needs to be in place by January 4, and preferably even earlier than that.

Mr. Elbel

September 30th, 2014 at 3:54 PM ^

I bought tickets to the Maryland game already. Not selling them for anything. Taking two of my nephews. It'll be the first UM game any of us have ever seen live. Yup.


September 30th, 2014 at 3:57 PM ^

My issue with boycotting the Maryland game is that it's senior day and it seems everyone here is on the side of the players so why punish Devin Gardner, Frank Clark and the rest of the players who have given their all for the last 4-5 years?  Why make their last game one with 80k people in the stands?  Additionally, the PSU game will get a lot more viewers and bring a ton more attention to the boycott, plus Brandon is the one who has done so much promotion for the night games so it would be fitting to ruin his last UTL.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:01 PM ^

is just not working.  You are boycotting in order to prove that you are mad as hell and you are not going to take it anymore, but you are just waiting for the game that will be uncool enough that you won't mind missing what you are missing.  So, you are furious about what is going on and IT CANNOT STAND, "but real quick let me check out this really cool night game and then my anger is going to come ROARING BACK like you have never seen."  I think you may be missing the point of a boycott a little bit.  And aren't you supposedly concerned about player safety with Hoke at the helm?  That was the original reason for the boycott, right?  Player safety.  To think what danger you could be putting the players in by waiting so long for this boycott!!

No better example of fake outrage have I ever seen.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:14 PM ^

Do you really think Brian or anyone else here is not genuinely outraged?  Really?  Your arguments are getting more specious each time out ( e.g. there being no significant national media interest).  You must be exhausted.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:06 PM ^

Boycotting is the wrong strategy.  Let's fill the stadium to capacity for the Penn St game, boo Hoke at every opportunity, and chant Fire Brandon for the other 3 1/2 hours.

*Edit - If either one is still here.


September 30th, 2014 at 5:12 PM ^

Whatever you do, make it visible on TV.  
Make it something that the media will cover and still be talking about on Sunday.  If the media notices, Dave Brandon will notice.  That's the world he lives in.
You have to fight WOW with WOW.

Greg McMurtry

September 30th, 2014 at 4:09 PM ^

I completely disagree on the going for 2 theory.  Not saying your theory is bad, but I wouldn't do it that way.  My theory after having scored and being down 17, you kick the XP in that situation.  Then, especially with a poorly performing offense, you only need two TDs and two 2-points, with a dwindling amount of time.  I think the ability to get the ball back 3 times, and score while either stopping the opposing offense or recovering onside kicks is highly unlikely.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:17 PM ^

This makes no sense. Brian's is right..its not really a question. You do understand you only need two 2 point conversions under both yours and Brian's?

The better way to shownthe difference is what if under your method you scored the last touchdown with 5 seconds left. If you miss the 2 point conversion under yours, you lose the game because there is no time left. Under Brians method, you would have know that you missed it a few mins ago so you would have hurried up even more because you need another posession. Under Brian's method, there is still a tiny chance you can offset the missed conversion by hurrying up even more to get an extra score. Under yours, game over.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:46 PM ^

of a mental thing as anything.  If a team is down 16 points, that's a lot that has to go right with nothing going wrong in order to tie the game up.  If you go for 2 and get it to make it a 15 point game, you are still looking at an improbably situation but not a virtually impossible one like the 16 point deficit.  There is that angle as well as the additional information you get by knowing whether you got the 2 or not.  You are getting out ahead of the situation.


October 1st, 2014 at 3:35 AM ^

@ijohnb: I'd do Brian's strategy, but if you want to talk about player psychology I think that going for two early is a higher risk if you miss it than what the reward is if you convert.

In terms of player psychology, there isn't much of a difference between a 15 point or 16 point deficit because you're down by two possessions either way, but the psychological (and practical) difference between a 16 and 17 point difference is huge because if you're down 17 it's a 3 possession lead and you're probably screwed.  If you're down 15 or 16, the guys on your team still believe that they have a chance to come back whereas the missed two point conversion to leave you down by 17 might stop your comeback right in its tracks.  The longer that you stay theoretically on track for a comeback, the more time your guys are focused and energized giving you an actual chance to come back.

For what it's worth, I would still do Brian's strategy 100% of the time for the reasons mentioned in the posts above, but if we're talking about player psychology I think there's actually a small advantage to be had if you wait to go for two.  Whether you're down 15 or 16 the guys on your team feel like you have a shot, but if you go for 2 and miss (leaving you in a 17 point hole) it seem like your guys would be much more likely to give up.


September 30th, 2014 at 5:37 PM ^

But in that 30-13 scenario, you now learn you need 3 other scores.

If you wait and miss on the last one in your scenario, well you now learn that you needed 3 more scores but unfortunately time is up as you had been acting all along as if you needed only 2. Its better to know you need 3 additional scores early on so you can hurry the pace and maybe do onside kick when you wouldnt have if only 2 scores. Yes - getting 3 more scores is unlikely but better to know you need 3 more scores with 8 mins left than just finding it out when there is 10 seconds left.

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September 30th, 2014 at 4:18 PM ^

Not going for two just gives you the illusion of being in a 2 score game.  But 60% of the time (or whatever current conversion rates are), you're still in a 3 score game.  You just don't know it yet.  And not knowing keeps you from employing the optimal strategy to maximize your (very slim) chances of winning the game.  


September 30th, 2014 at 4:57 PM ^

16 points is two scores and two 2 point conversions.  We treat a 14 point game as "two scores" because the success rate on extra points is well above 95%, so you can safely assume that two scores will get you 14 points.  Conversion rates on two point conversions are somewhere around 40-50%, so a successful two point conversion can't be assumed the way a successful extra point can.  If you're down 8, half the time you're in a 1 score game (because you'll make the 2 point conversion) and half the time you're in a 2 score game (because you won't).  The situation is obviously worse if you're down 16, because you need a 40-50% coin flip to come up heads twice.  In other words, it's far more likely than not that you'll ultimately need 3 scores.

In that situation, you want to find out as soon as humanly possible how many scores you actually will need by the end of the game, because any team down 3 scores needs to take drastic measures.  



September 30th, 2014 at 5:08 PM ^

You've struck upon the key point, but don't quite comprehend it. Down 16 points is a two score game only if you make a pair of two point conversions. There is a high probability that you will not (since they are roughly 50-50 each), and will need an extra possession to tie/win. Hence, it's an "illusion" - it might be a two possession game, but it's more likely that you'll need three possessions and three scores at a minimum. It's much better to miss one of your required two point conversions early, and then have time to adjust our strategy, than to operate assuming you only need two possessions and miss a two point conversion late. With 7 minutes left, there are things you can do to get an extra possession (onside kick, hurry up, use timeouts early, unleash the dragon). With one minute left, you're much more restricted.


September 30th, 2014 at 4:19 PM ^

presupposes that you make both two-point conversions.  Your argument might make sense if you believe that staying within 16 points would better motivate the team.  Brian's argument is that it is better from a strategic standpoint to know whether that's going to happen or whether you need three scores instead.


October 1st, 2014 at 10:56 AM ^

I have to agree with Brian. You always go for 2 as soon as possible. Let’s say you don’t make it. You’re down 17. Now let’s say next time you have possession it’s 4thdown and 7 from their 25 yards. You kick the field goal and you’re down 14. In your situation you have to go for it. You don’t get the first down, you lose possession and you’re down 16. You score a touchdown but not the 2pt conversion now its 10pt which means 2 possessions. In fact you have to be perfect to keep it 2 possessions only. Not only have you needed to score 2 TD and two 2pt conversions, the other team cannot score at all. What if they score a field goal after you lose an onside kick because you definitely will need one?


September 30th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

Tom Jurich is well-respected by many sporting types b/c he has built Louisville into a sports powerhouse (awesome in b-ball, respectable or better in football), while also getting them into the ACC.

However, he did just re-hire Bobby Petrino, he of the recent sex scandal / lying about it / misuse of university funds / hiring your mistress for a university job. And when the trustee of Louisville mentioned why they were OK with re-hiring Petrino, he said "College sports are a business, first and foremost." Which Jurich obviously agrees with, by hiring Petrino.

If we don't get Bates or Manuel, I sure hope we don't turn our eyes to Jurich.…