Peace Between The Wars

Submitted by Brian on April 2nd, 2015 at 12:25 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

Jim Hackett talked to the Daily yesterday, and the words that he said were as encouraging as possible for a fan who likes his college football to be as distinct as possible from the pro experience:

The topic of conversation soon shifted to the student experience at Michigan Stadium and the tendency of many students to leave games well before they end. Hackett believes the issue will most easily be resolved by the improvement of the on-field product.

“I don’t want to sound sarcastic,” Hackett said. “What I don’t want is more entertainment that’s not football. I think that works in the pros, but we’re in college. I believe college shouldn’t be like the pros. It shouldn’t cost like the pros.”

Hackett specifically noted that he didn’t want the games to feel “corporate,” a complaint that was commonly voiced by Michigan fans during Brandon’s tenure.

I am still a little hesitant to open the ol' heart to the new AD because I remember the brief, stretchgate-inspired Brandon honeymoon that we all had a few years back… but I'm hopeful that Hackett takes the project of making Michigan Michigan seriously, and am more so every time he is quoted.

We're even seeing some specific steps discussed not only amongst the fanbase but with the guys in charge. After a student complained about the piped-in music, Hackett replied thusly:

Hackett asked the new coach what he thought of piped-in music during warmups. Harbaugh was firm in his answer.

“I don’t care. We don’t need it,” Harbaugh said.

Hackett agreed with Harbaugh, noting that in the past, the loud music has almost discouraged him from sitting through the team’s warmups when he has visited Michigan Stadium. As a result of the preferences of the coach, athletic director and many fans, the Athletic Department is in conversations with the band to have it play more during games.

I did not dream of a day when Michigan would look at the music during warmups as an issue to be addressed, let alone the actual in-game experience. I don't even mind the warmups music that much. I did treasure the quiet buzz of anticipation 45 minutes before the game, though, and if that comes back the stadium will be a step closer to what it used to be.

That thing it used to be was merely itself. The band, the lack of advertising, the silences in between the shouting. The natural up and down of a crowd was an important part of my formative experiences as a sports fan, and I still wince at the idea that doing something for the entertainment of the people in attendance actually, you know, entertains them. Too often piped-in music turns fan participation off instead of on. It's a convenient way to cover the fact that you have a lack of atmosphere. I prefer an athletic department that asks the hard questions about how to create one out of the materials they've been given. If MLS can do it—hell, if Detroit City can do it—there's no reason Michigan can't.

Here's hoping Hackett's the man to do it.

Oh also

We talked about this some on WTKA today: it sounds like when the Adidas contract comes up in a year, Michigan is seriously considering a switch even if that move costs them some money.

“In my first months here, the question of which brand we wear is a big one,” Hackett said during the fireside chat. “We’ve organized — this is a secret — a project team to look at the question of, there’s really three players: Adidas, Under Armour and Nike.”

"Was" a secret if you're talking about it in a fireside chat with students. Adidas or UA will offer the most money; Nike offers the gear it seems like most of the athletes prefer… and it opens doors in recruiting, especially basketball. Like it or not, that is fact.

The mere fact that there's something other than a number in a spreadsheet being considered here is an excellent development. I don't understand people who care a ton about the style of an athletic clothing supplier, but there are evidently legions of them.

Personally, I would prefer Under Armour, which tends to create (or maintain) signature looks for the schools they have. Adidas and Nike both love to suit people up in things that say "this team is part of Adidas or Nike"; UA is better about working for the team, the team, the team.

Okay yes Maryland's flag uniforms are kind of a disaster, but it's not like they've got anything iconic to hang their hat on. Meanwhile I love what they've done with Northwestern and they've left Auburn's classic look virtually untouched. But UA is a distant third when it comes to recognition and door-opening.

It's a tough decision.

Comments

gwkrlghl

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:51 PM ^

I think when a single sport profits like $50MM+ you have some flexibility between selecting $8.2MM from Adidas or $4.4MM from Nike. And let's be real, Florida State being the highest paid shows there's more money to be made from Nike. Florida State only has fans when their football team is good. The apparel sales of Michigan probably dwarf FSU's

MichiganMAN47

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:33 PM ^

I had no problem with it during warm ups. I have a big problem with it when the team is about to touch the banner, and when they play the "MAKE SOME NOISE!" bit right before opening kickoff. With that, they managed to ruin two of the best moments of the game.

UMCoconut

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:33 PM ^

I really am shocked so many fans (seemingly) care deeply about music being piped-in, or ads being displayed in the stadium, or what brand of clothing the football team wears.  I guess I just prefer to win games and field a great football team, and the rest are such miniscule details that it doesn't matter in the slightest.

I  clearly am in the minority here, with how much emotion people display about these topcis on MgoBlog and other places.  I still struggle to understand why it matters so much, though perhaps it has taken center stage because we've lost so much recently, so it's easier to pick apart other aspects of the experience.

ijohnb

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:37 PM ^

stadium atmoshpere is a "miniscule detail" tells me that you have got yourself mixed up with a level of Michigan fans that you may not be all that familiar with and that you really are not entirely engaged with what Michigan football means to the majority of people here.

Lanknows

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:49 PM ^

In 2011-12, when the team was riding high with a new head coach and a BCS bowl victory, people still complained about the changes in the stadium and gameday experience.

Certainly there is a relationship between the level of grumbling (on all fronts) when the football team is unsuccessful, but people do care about the gameday experience and the traditions that have made the UM football experience unique, regardless of winnning or losing.

In a way, I can sympathisize with this who-cares viewpoint (for example, I personally don't care about uniforms nearly as much as others as long as nobody Fs with the helmet), but on the other hand I cannot.  The desire for uniformity of experience is something I don't get. We have to hold onto the things that make Michigan special and it goes well beyond the W-L record.

gbdub

April 2nd, 2015 at 1:52 PM ^

Well if you don't care, then let us have it the way we like it.

Also, I don't get the "just win" attitude either. First, because it's not like winning and having a good, classic college football atmosphere are mutually exclusive. Second, because do you REALLY only care about the final score? Do you actually have just as much fun at a 50-10 whupping as you do at an intense, back and forth game between two good teams (honestly I have way more fun watching a close loss to OSU than a beat down of say Indiana)?

If the stadium experience doesn't matter at all, why bother even going to the game? Watch at home on a big screen with a cold beer. The view is better, the food's cheaper, and you still get to see the team win or lose.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

bronxblue

April 2nd, 2015 at 1:53 PM ^

Because some people care about things you don't?

Honestly, I'm in the same camp that I don't really care what uniforms the players wear, but again I'm not affected in any meaningful way; they are.  But the music, the ads, the commercialization isn't necessary for the team to succeed, and at some point people have bars that they will not cross when it comes to changing the atmosphere and the related elements of the gameday experience.  Hell, I live 800 miles away from A2 and watch the games on the TV and it still annoyed me to see that stupid hashtag on the field because I think trying to make everything a social media event is idiotic and only justifies salaries for people who probably don't understand a quarter of the things they claim to be experts in.  But to others, it's fine, and so be it.  

But if the majority of people find something the University is doing undesirable, the administration should probably listen.  The fact the last AD didn't share that sentiment is why this stuff matters.

Alton

April 2nd, 2015 at 2:10 PM ^

So why are you a Michigan fan and not an Ohio State fan or an Alabama fan?  Despite your claim that "I prefer to win games and field a great football team, and the rest are such miniscule details that it doesn't matter in the slightest," you are a Michigan fan.  If the only thing that matters is winning games, you have made an irrational choice sticking with Michigan over the last decade.

Or is there actually something else that you do care about, other than winning games, that makes you a Michigan fan but you aren't telling us?  Because the way I look at it, the people who say they care about the game atmosphere are at least being honest with themselves, and with us.

ijohnb

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:34 PM ^

a convenient way to cover up the fact that you have a lack of atmosphere."

That is a great quote, but completely indicative of everything that Brandon misjudged, and why I can't believe that he went to and played for Michigan.  Pre-2010, the Big House was not only an atmosphere, it was the atmosphere for big time college football games.  Go back and watch some of the big Michigan v. Ohio State games from the 90s and 2000s.  It was everything great about college football, it did not need an atmosphere created, it was ALL atmosphere. 

TheDirtyD

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:34 PM ^

Would Michigan generate more indirect revenue from Nike due the the fact it's changing gear often and people love to go buy new things? Another indirect source could be better basketball recruits which generally means winning more and when you win people tend to buy more things. Perhaps Michigan's uptick in apperal sales would offset the cut in switching to Nike. I have stopped buying Adidas gear since my shorts fell apart in weeks and the polo's also did. I have two pieces I still wear. I hate their product. 

Moe

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:35 PM ^

And so simple that he polled every athlete for their preference.  How rare and refreshing!  Just a stab in the dark, but I'd wager the responses coming back are very pro Nike and that will end up being the main reason for the switch.  Would take a huge percentage of UA preferences for Michigan to go to them.

FreddieMercuryHayes

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:36 PM ^

I agree with Webb, I think Nike would low-ball because they have brand cache.  I personally have been most impressed with the quality of UA gear I own; I still wear a 14 year old ColdGear long sleeve when UA was just starting to get big.  UA kind of reminds me of what Nike was doing in the early 2000's (you know, when everyone was making fun of Oregon's ridiculous uniforms Nike was coming up with).  I wouldn't mind getting on the UA bandwagon, and they would probably pay more than Nike to get a huge brand like UM.  However, if Nike really does help with recruiting...man, that's tough to pass up, especially with basketball.

FreddieMercuryHayes

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:49 PM ^

I think they already need to.  They just lost their NBA contract too.  UM is the biggest US one they have on the table I think.  But hey, I rarely say this, but this is a very appropriate time: capitalism.  They need to get better talent in and made stuff that impresses customers.  They need to up the quality of their product.  If they do, then they'll get customers back.

moore_te

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:39 PM ^

THE REAL PROBLEM:  Too much commercial down time!!!!  Ruins the stadium experience.

The solution: Don't stop the game for "free" broadcast or cable, and have a pay per view for people who want to watch the game without missing anything.  Broadcast tv can do their best to catch people up and insert commercials where they won't interfere with game flow.

moore_te

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:39 PM ^

THE REAL PROBLEM:  Too much commercial down time!!!!  Ruins the stadium experience.

The solution: Don't stop the game for "free" broadcast or cable, and have a pay per view for people who want to watch the game without missing anything.  Broadcast tv can do their best to catch people up and insert commercials where they won't interfere with game flow.

Stay.Classy.An…

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:41 PM ^

such an interesting direction to go. I think they are finally beginning to chip away at the Big Two in the college athletics market, though as Brian stated, UA is far behind. Under Armour would definitely throw a ton of money at Michigan and I would really enjoy hearing their pitch and seeing their vision for Michigan athletics, I hope Hackett at least gives them a sit down. Ultimately, I think Nike ends up with the contract because that is just THE name when it comes to sports.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Hackett continues the excellent work he has been doing, he has delivered so far, re-creating the game day experience will definitely cement his place (in my mind) as our long-term solution at the Athletic Director position.

FreddieMercuryHayes

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:52 PM ^

Part of me wants to see UM go to UA because I want them to be on the cutting edge for once.  I think UA make quality stuff, and they seem to be hitting their groove when it comes to uniforms.  Going back to Nike seems to be very 'Michigan': it's what we've always done in the good 'ol days when we were great (but not as elite as we like to believe)'.  But then again, it's just apparel.

bsand2053

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:41 PM ^

Can someone explain basketball recruits only going to Nike or Adidas schools?  Are they thinking that if they stay with a certain company they might get a bigger shoe contract when they go pro?  Is it an AAU thing?

Moe

April 2nd, 2015 at 12:43 PM ^

They start with a certain brand in AAU.  That brand will promise them things if they go to one of "their schools" and also most likely once they go pro.  It's incredibly dirty, but it's the world of college basketball.