Unverified Voracity Is A Mobius Strip Argument

Submitted by Brian on June 6th, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Yes. Terrific article from John U Bacon on ticket sales and program malaise and the things we've been talking about all summer. There are about five money quotes. Here's one:

Brandon said, “We all think of every home Michigan football game like a miniature Super Bowl.”

I don’t know any Michigan fans who think that.  Quite the opposite, they think Michigan football games are the antidote for the artificial excess of the Super Bowl.

Bacon has hit a nerve here—his server is imploding under the pressure.

The problem with Dave Brandon is that he is a mediocrity in a suit with one skill, which is wearing the suit. Unfortunately, this is who is in charge most places. But when Georgia fans, who were until recently saddled with one of our nation's greatest suited mediocrities in Michael Adams, are pointing at us and saying "it could be worse"… well, it ain't good.

At least we have the student government?

The move to general admission was fairly disastrous for Michigan last fall, and former student body president Michael Proppe launched a survey of students midway through the season.

“It was so overwhelmingly negative, we knew we had to come up with something,” Proppe said.

The first survey that had 6,000 respondents was taken after the fourth home game and responses — including 76 percent saying they did not approve of general admission — were shared with the athletic department.

“It just didn’t really work,” he said.

A second survey administered with the athletic department gave a better gauge of what students want. They were asked to rank what’s most important for their game-day experience, and No. 1 was being able to sit with friends. Interestingly, students said having Wi-Fi was the lowest priority.

“That is such a misconception that putting in Wi-Fi is going to get students to show up,” Proppe said.

Michael Proppe for AD. Seriously.

Also yes. Bo Pelini suggests doing away with Signing Day altogether, which I almost support for this reason:

"If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it's over," Pelini told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "That will stop some of the things that are happening -- people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid."

The "almost" part is that the kid should be able to get out of the LOI if the coach he committed to gets the axe. The best system would maintain the Signing Day hoopla but also feature a non-binding LOI that you could sign whenever that would 1) prevent coaches from contacting you, 2) prevent you from taking an official visit to another school, 3) let the coaches you signed with talk to you whenever they want, and 4) guarantee you a scholarship at school X.


you get better pictures from the Mars lander

Well that clears up everything. The Ann Arbor News has an in-depth investigation about whether Taylor Lewan was the guy who punched some Ohio State fans who were begging to get punched ("Munsch had been walking around with a megaphone … taunted U-M fans on the street and inside the Brown Jug") after last year's edition of The Game. They have video that clears nothing up and quotes that contradict each other from about a dozen different people.

My takeaway is that this is time that could have been better spent finding anything else out. It seems like this incident has gotten a ton of attention for some drunk bar punchin' such as happens just about everywhere most years.

The last time I mentioned a potential transfer coming in for a visit it worked out all right. West Virginia shooting guard Eron Harris will be on campus this weekend, and a commitment to someone should be forthcoming soon. Harris has already been at Purdue and Michigan State, his other two finalists.

Perhaps relevant: MSU just landed a commitment from 2015 OH SG Kyle Ahrens, a guy who was vaguely on Michigan's radar. Harris is effectively a 2015 SG, so that may be a signal MSU doesn't have a great vibe with him.

2016 IN PG Eron Gordon is also slated to be on campus this weekend, and then the Michigan elite camp will bring in all manner of 2016 gentlemen fighting for Michigan's love and vice-versa.

The new guy. MGoVideo has a supercut of every Ty Isaac touch from last year. Sorry, you'll have to go over there—no embedding. I'm a little torn—Isaac doesn't look particularly explosive but then he outruns defensive backs in that game against Cal. Maybe he's just one of those guys who don't look like they're moving at high speed but somehow are. Guys do tend to bounce off him; Isaac had some nice chunks of YAC and tends to fall forward when that's at all a possibility.

You cannot be seeeeeeeerious. The NCAA published a snippy little press release about the portion of the O'Bannon case that EA settled on that must be seen to be believed:


The NCAA did finally find someone in their office who had a dictionary and changed "benefactors" to "beneficiaries." Meanwhile, the NCAA claiming that the "real benefactors" are the lawyers, who have dared to make money off the backs of student-ath…

uh… this is a terrible idea
I know, but that's never stopped us before


And they're probably going to try to draw a line between athletes being compensated for the use of their likeness in a court case and being compensated for the use of their likeness legally. I set the over under on exploded heads at NCAA HQ in the next two years at 2.5.

None of this does anything. The hockey rules committee was looking at some notable changes including three-quarter shields and changes to overtime procedure. Those all went away. The most notable change they have suggested:

Faceoff Location – Offensive Scoring Opportunity: If the offensive team is attempting to score and the puck goes out of play – the faceoff will remain in the attacking zone.


Status quo. Jake Butt is still on track to return by week three:

"I don't think we know (exactly when he'll be back) yet, but I wouldn't expect him back until after week three," Hoke said. "He feels great, he thinks he's Superman. They all do at that age.

"But he feels good."

Hoke said the hope is to get Butt back to seeing live contact action after the week three game against Miami-Ohio -- at the earliest.

This will be interesting. The Ed O'Bannon case kicks off Monday. SI has a primer and the NCAA witness list, which consists of folks disproportionately relevant to you: both Brandon and Mary Sue Coleman are on it, as are MSU AD Mark Hollis and Jim Delany. It seems like bad news that one of the economists on the NCAA side has this quote in a book of his:

“The NCAA restricts competition in a number of important activities. To reduce bargaining power by student athletes, the NCAA creates and enforces rules regarding eligibility and terms of compensation.”

It'll be interesting, but not suspenseful. Claudia Wilken, the judge in the case, has already dismissed the word "amateurism" and ruled that the NCAA can't even mention non-revenue sports, leaving:

Her reasoning is that no one forces schools to sponsor teams that can't financially support themselves, so she considers the impact on those teams irrelevant in the eyes of the law. This doesn't leave much for the NCAA to argue except the pro-competitive aspects of its rules.

A pro-competitive aspect that anyone who's ever looked at a recruiting site knows doesn't exist and the SEC commissioner just said this about:

“I consider this period of time one of the historic moments that all of us are witnesses to — an evolutionary change where we put the student-athletes first and we build our philosophies on the student-athlete rather than the so-called level playing field,” Slive said.

The NCAA is gon' die. Their current arguments are straightforward descriptions of functioning markets.

"In those circumstances, it is basic economics that allowing cash payments for (name, image and likeness usage) for the first time will tilt the distribution of talent and success towards colleges and universities with more cash to spend."


Oh, and this one.

They are only in the stadium at all because their colleges and universities have agreed to let them play ... (Athletes) cannot own the right to broadcast their games when they need the same permission that broadcasters do to be in the stadium at all.

The only tension is in how fast the NCAA will get laughed out of court.

Etc.: Caris finds his way onto a list of the top 15 draft prospects already in school. If you have no idea about soccer here's a good place to start. Looking at next year's softball team. MVictors points out a Kickstarter for old-timey jerseys. B10 championship to stay in Indy; basketball tournament to still mostly rotate between Chicago and Indy. North Carolina's Rashad McCants says the school bit of his career was a total sham.



June 6th, 2014 at 3:23 PM ^

I don't get it, if being able to sit next to your friends is top priority, isn't general admission a good thing then? There seems to be a healthy dose of have your cake and eat it too where students want to have both guaranteed good seats and the flexibility to show up whenever and sit next to whomever.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:42 PM ^

While true, it does allow for all of your friends to enter at once and sit together, students have always enjoyed knowing that if they don't show up exactly at the same time for whatever reason, they can still all join their group of friends.

I graduated in '09, and from sophomore year on, I had tickets in a group of around 20 guys.  Yes, during certain games (probably like the Horror and other equal caliber opponents) not everyone was there for kickoff.  For the big games, the latest guy probably arrived just after kickoff. 

I agree with Bacon that the AD should be marketing to the fans, not having them buy into whatever the AD wants.  A large part of the stadium attending fans are students.  I'm of the opinion that who cares that students arent there 100% for kickoff.  Allow them to enjoy their four years of fun, including everything game day has to offer.  Let them show up when they want.  For the "big games" the student section was always packed by midway through the first quarter, and not visibly empty by any means.


June 6th, 2014 at 4:55 PM ^

I disagree.  15% is a large portion of the stadium.  I never said a majority.  Take 15% of people out of the staidum and it's a noticeable difference.  Take this particular group of fans out and you lose a part of what makes the atmosphere so of the Big House so great.

Plus, this 15% is one of the most important groups that the AD should be catering too.  They are the future alumni (no, not getting into a have to go to UM to be fan conversation).  This group will have the future buying power.  You want to ensure that they will want to continue to support and give back to the University and AD.  As an out of state student who attended UM for academic reason, I was in awe of gameday.  It's not the same anymore, but it's not at the point where it's ruined forever.

Ignoring the wants of this group is just flat out wrong and misguided.


June 6th, 2014 at 5:22 PM ^

You can't target your game day experience to such a small group, and expect the rest to be content.

I graduated 13 years ago, and I agree the game day atmosphere appears different. Is that because something about the game/stadium/atmosphere changed, or because I grew up, have different priorities and am no longer a student? I still visit Ann Arbor, but being there (or living there) after college - there is a different feeling. Our appreciation of things changes as we grow older and have different life experiences, but that doesn't mean the thing had changed.


June 6th, 2014 at 5:40 PM ^

I think we may discussing different things at this point.  I was responding the first comment about student preferences regarding sitting with friends.  I don't believe that the game day experience should be tailored to only 15%.  It should be made so everyone in attendance has a great time, period.

But in reference to that 15%, a large portion of the stadium, there are specific rules and guidelines.  This 15% group know as your University student body is very important, and any type of policy "forcing students to show up early" is silly.  Rewards through loyalty programs are fine, but the system wasn't broken, its just that students aren't going to show up on time, period.  I'm in no way saying its all about the student section.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:47 PM ^

From what I understand, GA was run in a completely ham-handed manner. Since ushers forced people into rows one after another, it actually made it more difficult to sit next to friends unless an inordinate amount of coordination occurred to get everyone in line together at exactly the same time.


June 6th, 2014 at 5:40 PM ^

My friends were always doing something. Not everyone could meet up and go to the game at the exact same time. 

Also, if you happen to be late for whatever reason, or can't get to the game 30-60 minutes before it starts, you still knew that you had your seat with your friends and that you weren't going to get stuck alone, or have to jam into a row where everyone is standing sideways because it's too full.

It just eliminates the anxiety and bulllshit that you have to deal with.

It really doesn't make sense because most of the kids who are going to show up and smash their way down to the first couple of rows were doing that well before there was a general admission policy.

You're just creating even more of a giant clusterfuck that's going to make the student section look more empty at the top than it is because the bottom 30 rows are always going to be well over capacity, which in turn also makes going to the game a less enjoyable because it's already cramped enough as it is without adding an extra 50 people to every lower row.


June 6th, 2014 at 5:18 PM ^

The fact that nobody is talking about is the fact that the system last year was not general admission.  When students arrived inside the stadium, they were assigned a row, and a seat within that row.  That is pretty much the exact opposite of general admission.

The worst thing about it is that the seats among the worst in the stadium (row A, or row 1, or whatever they call it) were assigned to the people who showed up first.  So there was a strong incentive to not show up early, which is the exact opposite of what the people in charge of the thing were trying to accomplish.

The FannMan

June 6th, 2014 at 6:56 PM ^

Do you mean to tell me that if you showed up ten minutes after your pals, you weren't allowed to go find them but were assigned a seat next to people you had probably never met before? So if you stopped to pee on the way in, or had one last brew at the tailgate, you were guaranteed not to sit anywhere near your group?

That would be the worst possible of all worlds and is not what I understood "General Admission" to mean.

Monocle Smile

June 6th, 2014 at 3:23 PM ^

There's been quite a bit of bellyaching on this blog about how Brian is constantly anti-NCAA, but those responsible are steadily looking dumber as time goes on.

Apparently none of the NCAA's lawyers have seen Gladiator. The crowd ain't dishing out money to see the school administrators or the regents, bub.


June 6th, 2014 at 4:03 PM ^

An Intriguing Prospect
Brandon v.
In a televised cage match at Staples Center/LA.  For charity of course.  Only one AD can emerge without being carried out.  I'd pay for that view.  And the Brandon's shouldn't presume we would be rooting for Dave.


June 6th, 2014 at 8:23 PM ^

Hopefully, Harvard business school will endow a professorship for running businesses into the ground and hire Brandon for that spot, he is so very experienced in doing so. Perhaps when he is gone, UM can run similar ads to those Dominos ran when he left there: "We know we make shitty pizza/football, please help us redo what Dave Brandon so gloriously fucked up".


June 6th, 2014 at 3:27 PM ^

Posted on the SB Nation site isn't quite true. The seats above ground level in the 'student section' were not student seats last year. I believe they were just regular single game seats, as I sat there for one game last year. (almost got punched becasue I was too 'negative' and should only cheer for the product on the field)

These seats did fill in fully shortly after the game started. 


June 6th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

Same here. They really need to speed up the process to get into your section and to your seats. The lines out there are ridiculous. I bring this up most times when the issue of empty seats comes up and usually get met with a chorus of "you should show up earlier." Yeah, that's true, but you can't complain about the erosion of the Michigan Stadium Experience and give the logisitcs people a total pass for what's become a big game day headache in some sections.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:28 PM ^

Also, I feel conflicted by the Lewan thing. On one hand, it seems much ado about nothing and the sort of thing that happens regularly on a college campus as Brian says. On the other hand, Phillip Nelson. I want to say these are different, but all I can really come up with fundamentally is the difference really came down to luck that the other guy got seriously hurt and the ohio fan didn't.


June 6th, 2014 at 11:41 PM ^

Less likely? Sure. Punching someone in the face is still pretty damn risky though, especially for someone of Lewan's size and strength. I mean, the Phillip Nelson victim was likely going to be hurt pretty bad just from hitting the pavement after the initial punch, according to witnesses.

I do take your point that punching someone (allegedly) that was fighting your brother is less despicable than kicking someone that's down.


June 7th, 2014 at 6:05 PM ^

So what are the full details of the Lewan incident?


I think the main issue is if the guy sees it coming/has the opportunity to defend himself. If they are getting mouthy with each and saying they going to kick one another ass then they should both expect a punch could be thrown at anytime and if that happens no harm no foul.


If one guys hits another when he's not looking that's bad mojo and as bad as kicking someone when they are down imo.


No sure which side Lewan falls in as I don't know all the details.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

Not to be on the side of the NCAA, but if they can't bring up non-revenue sports because no one is forcing them to offer these sports, then my question is, what is the purpose of Title IX? Assuming that football and men's hoops are the only money makers at most schools, and we're looking at 85 and 13 scholarships for those sports, then doesn't Title IX require 98 women's scholarships, which would be in non-revenue sports? Thus, the government is, in fact, requiring schools to offer those sports and they should be able to bring them up in their argument. Or do I have a complete misunderstanding of this (which is certainly possible)?


June 6th, 2014 at 4:40 PM ^

You're starting with the assumption that a school has to have football or some other revenue sport hence they must carry no revenue sports, but that assumption is flawed. "Gender-proportionate athletic opportunity" and "must offer non revenue sports" are not at all the same thing. Nothing says a school has to field a football team, or any other revenue team, or any sports at all. In fact, if a school cuts football, Title IX becomes easier to meet.

In a world where student-athletes are employees and more fairly compensated, that's exactly what some schools will do, and college football will be better for it. The colleges likely will as well.


June 6th, 2014 at 5:32 PM ^

"You're starting with the assumption that a school has to have football or some other revenue sport hence they must carry no revenue sports"


No - I'm making the assumption that if a school HAS revenue sports that it will be forced by Title IX to have non-revenue sports.


Why? Because there isn't a single D1 womens sport at any D1 college that turns a profit.

So as soon as you have a profit producing football team (which is the only sport that makes any money at 80+% of universities) - you are forced by the federal government to offer non-revenue sports.




June 9th, 2014 at 2:36 PM ^

No, there absolutely were not 43 profitable womens basketball teams in 2011.

I doubt there were 43 profitable MENs teams in D1.





"Bloomberg News used open-records laws to obtain financial reports of state schools in six conferences: Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern. The 20 private schools in the conferences aren’t required to make such records public.

Each of the 53 teams lost money in the 2010 fiscal year, and the average operating deficit was $2.01 million on an average $804,577 of revenue, according to the reports. The University of Tennessee, ranked fourth in the Associated Press Top 25, lost $713,997, while No. 7 Texas A&M University had a $2.8 million shortfall. No. 12 Michigan State University was $2.01 million in the red."




June 9th, 2014 at 5:47 PM ^

... Because no women's sport has a roster size like football. If your school has a Division I football team, that's 85 roster spots which are men only. It takes three women's teams to match that. It's not the dollars, it's the players.

For a team at the top end of the football heap, that's just accounting. For the dregs of Division I, that's a huge issue - even if they gave no scholarships, they still have all the other expenses of four college programs that have to be kept going. That's why I think that most of those teams - the ones losing money on football today - will drop back to Division II or drop football entirely in the event of a football union or something similar.

I think that will be good for college football, since the top end teams will end up competing for twice as much talent, and produce a better product. I think it will be good for the schools that drop the game, as they can spend resources on their primary educational missions.


June 6th, 2014 at 10:20 PM ^

"In a world where student-athletes are employees and more fairly compensated, that's exactly what some schools will do, and college football will be better for it. The colleges likely will as well."


Wait so you are suggesting the schools and college football will be better off by cutting 190 scholarships? What about the athletes who are there on scholarship that now have to figure out a way to pay for school? What about all the other sports football supports.


I know that this doesn't realistically happen for the Michigans and Alabamas of the world who turn a profit because of the 2 major spots but what happens at the Eastern Michigans or the world where the ADept doesn't make money? Just cut all those kids?


"Nothing says a school has to field a football team, or any other revenue team, or any sports at all. In fact, if a school cuts football, Title IX becomes easier to meet."


This is incredibly flawed logic. That's like saying if I work at a restaurant I should stop selling food because it would reduce the cost of clean-up.


June 9th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

I'm saying that colleges that are losing money and not enhancing their collegiate standing by playing Division I football should drop back to Division II if/when their players are treated as employees. That means some of them will drop football entirely, but the college will be better off as they'll have more money for their primary purpose - education.

Yes, it also means that some players who go to college on scholarship now won't be able to afford school. That's a downside, but I believe it is outweighed by treating the ones that do more fairly, and by letting the non-big-time schools focus on things they're good at and supposed to be putting front and center.

To use your example, the current situation is like running a restaurant that's in danger of dying and ordering Kobe beef because the five-star restaurant down the block is advertising it ... when you're really a Denny's.


June 10th, 2014 at 8:03 PM ^

Thanks that clarifies your original point.


I guess the point where I get concerned with a move like this is where a D1 school has an ADept that is right at the threshold of turning a "profit" and now will have a reasonably sizeable added expense. They are faced with 2 choices:


1) Pour money into the ADept to keep it where it is which takes money from the general population.

2) Reduce the ADept either by going D2 or dropping revenue sports. I feel like this would would basically remove most, if not all sports from a school like this.


To me both of those options seem like the overall impact is going to be less available scholarships. My opinion is that any move that results in less people having a chance to go to college is a bad thing and I can't really agree that something outweighes that.


I also remain unconvinced that the schools will be able to get away with only paying the revenue athletes. I would envision that having paid positions which are only available to men will not be something that will sit well with title 9. But I'm not an expert on that point.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:57 PM ^

non-revenue sports on the backs of revenue athletes. Title IX's requirements do not support restricting revenue athletes' market rights. One reading of Title IX, though, is that it could act effectively as a tax to the extent Universities directly compensate revenue-athletes. 


June 6th, 2014 at 3:54 PM ^

About the Quasi-LOI:

I agree that might be a good thing.  Stops some of the post-verbal drama we see all the time.  But if there is a quasi-LOI, there needs to be at least a few contingencies in addition to what Brian mentioned.  A few contingencies to protect the school/team, and a few to protect the player:

Player Contingencies:

  • If the HC or Coordinator departs/leaves the program for any reason before National Signing Day.
  • Family medical hardship (similar to the NCAA waiver rule Ty is applying for now)

Team Contingencies:

  • Criminal arrests or academic ineligibilty.

Of course, if mutually agreed, both parties could agree to let each other out of the contract as well.

It would cut down on much of the drama, but it could increase drama in some circumstancesif people acted in bad faith or if a crazy event happens.  For example:  if a coach departure is a contingency to get a kid out of a preliminary LOI, but if under a preliminary LOI, you could see a case in which something happens on the eve of National Signing Day.  A kid would go from a highly probable commit for school X--who would've been ineligible to talk with other programs for perhaps months or even years at a stretch--and then suddenly be in a lurch if 24-48 hours before NSD the coach keels over with a heart attack.  Now, it's open season as the kid gets bombarded with a slew of inbound calls from programs he literally hasn't communicated with for 6-12 months.

Anyway, it'd be an interesting reform.  At least it would cut down on a lot of 17 year olds acting like 17 year olds with regards to their recruitment.  That being said though, it wouldn't eliminate "verbal" commits--it would just diminish their meaning and perhaps push them to earlier in the process.  But certainly the gung-hos or leaders in the recruiting class would sign Preliminary LOIs to signal their seriousness.

Sail to the Victors

June 6th, 2014 at 5:27 PM ^

Reading the article, Pelini acknowledges that a coaching change warrants releasing the player from the LOI. I appreciate your assessment of how things can still go haywire with those contingencies in place-recruiting is just organized chaos.


June 6th, 2014 at 3:57 PM ^

I live 10 hours away from Ann Arbor in Virginia, so I'm not someone who is planning on buying season tickets anytime soon. However, I'm very passionate about the topic of season tickets for students, and the way the AD and his department are handling this issue blows my mind. If you're going to see a 6,000+ decline in student ticket sales, it's pretty obvious that you have a big problem on hand. I think it's primarily the product on the field of late, but some of it is a mix of ticket prices and a crappy general admission policy that requires that you have a leash around your group of friends to ensure you're able to sit next to them in a large group. Rather than put the vacated student tickets on sale to the general public, the athletic department needs to get creative and get more kids to the games. In the end, they are the future of Michigan football revenues and you better treat them well now or you could lose them for life.

My solution: First, go back to the old way of selling student tickets based off seniority and allow big groups to sit with each other. Second, sell the season ticket package for $245 (or $35 per game), but add a caveat. For each game you arrive at the stadium before kickoff, you recieve a credit towards next year's season tickets for $15. if you come early for each game, you'd only pay $20 per game the next year, bringing the ticket package to $140 for the next season. For seniors, I'd give the option of receiving a check from the athletic department of $105 or having this $105 go towards a seat license (which they're offering to graduating seniors right now for $100). This would be a way of getting them back in the door post-graduation. Money talks and giving students a credit for next season (with a better schedule) would be enticing to most.


June 6th, 2014 at 4:05 PM ^

With all due respect (because I agree with most of Brian's observations) the clips of Isaac from last year show vastly more potential than anything I have seen from Derrick Green.  Even with offensive line variance firmly in place, he looked better than anybody currently on the roster.  Not explosive?  A  lot to  like in the short cuts, balance and power that Ty delivered in minimum PT.  


June 6th, 2014 at 4:12 PM ^

I agree re: how he compares to the rest of Michigan's roster.  He's reasonably fast and reasonably tough to bring down as long as he's going north-south.  It would be great if his feet were a bit quicker, but he's pretty shifty for such a big guy too. 


June 6th, 2014 at 4:25 PM ^

He reminds me of Chris Brown from Colorado (early 2000's). In the right scheme, he could be very effective. He's a bit of an upright runner, but clearly has some cutting ability and seems to be strong enough to break tackles. Watch some clips of Chris Brown at Colorado and you'll see they have a very similar style. If he turns out to be remotely close to Brown, then I'll be happy.