Unverified Voracity Requires Purchase Of Coke

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2014 at 12:06 PM

COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:

Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.

What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.

As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.

The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.

I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.

Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:

Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?

I HAVE EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE

SPECIFICALLY: YOURS

/hail of gunfire

And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:

I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?

Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:

"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …

"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.

Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.

While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):

"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."

IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.

More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:

…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while.  Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015.  With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.

This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.

The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.

If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.

It does.

And they're pretty pissed about it.

Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.

This is just not realistic:

"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."

It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.

That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.

We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:

Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:

On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.

Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.

He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.

Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:

Record West Winner East Winner
4-4 23.2% 0.0%
5-3 14.3% 47.5%
6-2 13.8% 12.3%
7-1 11.0% 7.9%
8-0 37.7% 32.4%

There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.

As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.

The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:

"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.

"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."

Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.

Etc.: Hinton on Gardner. Hoke isn't going to name a QB starter after all.

Comments

MI Expat NY

September 24th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

On the other hand, what if Oregon turned out to not really be Oregon this year?  They were tied with 1-3 Washington State in the 4th Quarter this past weekend.

There were computers that were far more down on MSU this season than the pollsters based on personnel losses.  Other than the rest of the Big Ten maybe being worse than expected, I'm not exactly sure what MSU has done to quell any of those doubts.  A 19 point loss to Oregon?  A dismantling of an FCS team and a team that wishes it were as good as an average FCS team?  I'm not sure anyone should consider that an impressive resume at this point.  

I think it's more likely than not that MSU is the best team in the East, but I don't think it's necessarily a foregone conclusion.  

Ace

September 24th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Not sure which chart you're looking at, but Connelly has their most likely B1G record as 6-2 (31.1% chance) with an almost exactly equal chance of finishing 7-1 or 8-0. There's also a big chart near the top with the expected wins for each team, and it has MSU at a very reasonable 5.83. Not saying these rankings are perfect (they aren't), but that looks totally fair to me.

ijohnb

September 24th, 2014 at 12:31 PM ^

think I have seen enough from MSU this year to say that they are unquestionably going to be dominant in the Big Ten.  Recent history says they likely will be, but they have played two cupcakes and have gotten more credit for being on the losing end of a blowout-ish type loss than any team I have ever seen. 

Zone Left

September 24th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

It's incredibly depressing that we're hoping to be the 2012 version of MSU. Getting to 7ish wins while actually being good could be a disaster. The whole staff would be fired, there would be transfers, and we'd get a B-list hire.

Blech.

MGolem

September 24th, 2014 at 1:03 PM ^

seems like it should be the easiest job in the world - here is your to-do list:

1. Stop doing all the stupid shit Dave Brandon has done

2. Pay Jim Harbaugh whatever he wants to be the football coach

3. At some point, in the (hopefully) distant future, promote LaVall Jordan to replace coach Beilein

3. Sit back on a job well done until you decide you want to retire 15-20 years from now

I wonder if I can get an interview when Brandon inevitably walks the plank...

ahw1982

September 24th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

Has anybody actually ever done investigative research on whether Brandon has increased revenue and what that revenue was used for?  It seems like irrational mob mentality to just dismiss a lot of the things Brandon did just because he did it to make money.  He's done a lot of clearly stupid things (skywriting being one), but the revenue generating stuff can't really be judged unless you investigate how much revenue it generated.

I mean, people complain about the stupid macaroni thing, yet most people probably have no clue how much money Michigan got for it or what they spent that money on.  Yes, if they got $5 and a box of Mac & Cheese, Dave Brandon is stupid.  But if they got $1 million, which they used to fund cancer research at the med school, I'd say bring on more giant Macaronis.

Same with the Coke deal.  Does anybody know how much Coke paid for those tickets?  If they paid face value for tickets that fans weren't willing to shell out cash for, then hell let them do what they want with them.

MGolem

September 24th, 2014 at 1:26 PM ^

The worst thing he did was not hire Jim Harbaugh in the first place. Everyone knew Rodriguez was toast before the year ended, why did he fail in such epic fashion to get that done? I am personally less concerned about all the marketing snafus but I know it is a big deal to many, and probably rightly so. Michigan has/had an image and it is being tarnished under this moron's watch.

TennBlue

September 24th, 2014 at 1:44 PM ^

(probably mistaken) that Brandon thought he had Harbaugh lined up when he finally pulled the trigger on Rodriguez.  Then Harbaugh stiffed him for the 49ers, and Brandon went all in on Hoke because he was the only option at that point. 

 

Harbaugh was named the coach of the 49ers on January 7, Hoke was named as the coach coach of Michigan on January 11.  The timing fits, anyway, and Harbaugh certainly has the personality to have done it.  I thought it was pretty obvious through the whole fall that Harbaugh was gunning for the 49ers and that any interest he had in Michigan was simply to play one off the other.

 

No evidence for it, but at the time his praise for Hoke seemed artificial, like he didn't want to give away that Hoke was his 2nd (or 3rd) choice.  Somebody will write a book eventually and we'll know the truth.

schreibee

September 24th, 2014 at 3:30 PM ^

Well the viewpoint from here in the Bay Area, especially among prople with M ties, is that Brandon had Harbaugh cued up a month before Jan. 7 '11, but dawdling along and letting RichRod swing in the breeze both aliented Harbaugh and allowed other suitors to pony up some far larger offers than he was gonna get at Michigan. That was then...

Now...Harbaugh is sick of the 49ers, they feel the same, no externsion/rasie will be discussed til after the results of this season are tallied (despite 3 NFC title games & a narrow SB loss).

It's my personal belief that the only thing which will definitively prevent Harbaugh from listening to an M offer is the continued presence of Brandon. That shouldn't be a tough fix.

God bless Coke-gate, could be just the final straw we've been searching for!

 

UMVAFAN

September 24th, 2014 at 1:34 PM ^

Every ounce of revenue generated by the athletic department pays for the non-revenue sports. None of it is going to cancer research. Athletics does help keep alums connected to the university, which in turn leads to more donations for academic programs. There are many studies that show the huge bump in donations for academic programs and general scholarship funds that universities receive after having success on the football field or basketball court.

ahw1982

September 24th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

I didn't mean that it gets directly eared for cancer research, but I do believe excess revenue from the Athletic Department gets folded back into the University's general fund, which indirectly can fund things like cancer research, or extra lasers for the Engineering school, or a Tuba for the Music department.

UMVAFAN

September 24th, 2014 at 2:26 PM ^

The excess revenues all stay in the Athletic Department in accumulated reserves for future capital projects, which have been self funded recently without aid from tax payers or the issuing of bonds. In addition to this, Brandon has increased the Athletic Departments budget significanlty by hiring more employees and raising salaries, thus sucking up more of the excess revenue generated. The Athletic Department is a fortress on its own island.

True Blue Grit

September 24th, 2014 at 2:11 PM ^

is a good thing in general.  But HOW it is generated does matter too.  The department probably makes a lot of revenue off fleecing people $4.50 for a bottle of water while creating a monopoly for it inside the Big House gates.  Is that right though? 

If Coke bought up a lot of tickets because U-M lost sales to students who couldn't afford the greatly increased season ticket price, is that a good thing?  Of course this doesn't even address the question of how selling a ticket for a couple cokes might impact the perceived value of a Michigan game ticket. 

In business, always trying to squeeze every last drop of money from your loyal customers while providing less value is very rarely a wise long term strategy.

ijohnb

September 24th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

this weekend.  He was not healthy and it showed.  You could tell he was playing in pain, and not just like "irritating" pain but AHHHHHHH PAIN! type pain.  It hurt watching it.  You don't want a kid out there like that.  Give him a week to try to heal up.  Penn State and MSU on the horizon, and I am going to say it, if we can't beat Minnesota at home with their back up quarterback without Funchess, then really what is the point in anything?  Let the kid heal up.

Yo_Blue

September 24th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

Thanks for that medical update from row 90 or from your couch.

I would hope the team would evaluate how he feels and how he practices rather than sit him becuase you think he has AHHHHHH PAIN!  Then again, I'm not a doctor so I don't understand that particular malady.

ijohnb

September 24th, 2014 at 2:32 PM ^

Thanks for showing everybody your a douche from you're computer or portable electronic device.

I would hope that you would shut your pathetic mouth and evaluate why you are such a dick and go around trolling benign posts because you want the team to EVALUATE HIM! even though he just said he is still in pain.  Then again I am not a douche troll and don't understand why people such as you do that.

schreibee

September 24th, 2014 at 3:36 PM ^

Downvoted for imprper usage of your/you're, too many uses of term Douche.

Otherwise, fair sentiments expressed! That idiot who replied to your post doesn't give a CRAP if Funchess is in pain as long as Michigan wins.

And if that's not an accurate reading of your message Yo, be more careful how you phrase things in the future maybe?!

bronxblue

September 24th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

 

It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players.

Based on every interaction I've had with most Michigan fans in my life, this is rarely the case.  Most fans hate to lose, and everyone is fair game, whether he be a coach, AD, player, former player, water boy, etc.  Bitching about other people not living up to our expectations is the hallmark of every program, especially one as entitled at UM's.

ijohnb

September 24th, 2014 at 12:35 PM ^

think Michigan fans are really acting "entitled" with the current situation.  We really are not mad about losing, per se, it has been the nature of the losses and how certain things have been handled.  Getting pounded by ND, OK, having Funchess get hurt with under five minutes left in the game, not OK.  Utah taking back a put, OK.  Utah doing so while they were on a "power-play," not OK.

 

bronxblue

September 24th, 2014 at 12:42 PM ^

I'm not talking so much about this season, but it has been years of people complaining about everything with this program, and the ire has been directed at players for most of that run.  Brian loved Denard when he was QB but there were LOTS of people who wanted him moved to RB, bitched about his passing style, etc.  And the stuff I heard and read last year about the offensive line and the RBs were about as far away from mature as possible.

You Only Live Twice

September 24th, 2014 at 1:02 PM ^

is the ease with which information can be spread.  This includes a lot of information that gets blown of proportion, i.e. Cokegate.  There have always been ticket promotions, and there always will be, this one wasn't handled well and went viral, but it's not a crime. 

In terms the negativity reaching players' ears, they have a point and they have a right to feel a little resentful.  There are a lot of 6-6 teams out there , and worse, whose fans show up to support them. 

ijohnb

September 24th, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

but it does not have to be denied, falsely, either.  If you are going to do something, then do it, and stick with it.  You did skywriting, OK.  Public backlash, so what?  "Yeah, we did it, thought it was kind of funny, who cares, we were taking a friendly jab at a rival."  Give away tickets to coke drinkers.  Public backlash, so what?  "Listen, this is not our best home schedule, in fact, it is one of the least appealing ones we have ever had.  We want to drum up some action here.  We want to fill seats."

But that is not what our athletic department does.  They duck and hide, and don't just take the good with the bad.  They sway with the wind.  There does not appear to be a backbone.  That is the issue.

gbdub

September 24th, 2014 at 2:03 PM ^

That's what annoys me about the AD. They do this dumb stuff, then act shocked, SHOCKED I say, that anyone would have a problem with it. So either they are stupid, and have zero understanding of their fan base, or are lying. The most likely explanation to me is that Brandon just throws stuff out there to see what he can get away with. Which means that he'd rather piss people off than miss a chance for a quick buck.

True Blue Grit

September 24th, 2014 at 2:20 PM ^

that make you believe they think they know what is best for their customers (us the fans).  It's almost like an old-style top-down marketing strategy carried out by a Madison Avenue ad agency.  You don't see much of a customer-centric attitude where they first try to find out what people want and then try to give it to them.  A good example is the loud, recorded music they subject everyone to at the games.  I think if you did a poll, the vast majority of fans would vote to either mostly or completely eliminate it. 

gbdub

September 24th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

Your explanation is definitely plausible, and also not mutually exlusive with mine. I'm not convinced that arrogance fully explains the behavior though, since they do backtrack and disavow in a hurry when things hit the fan. So there's at least some recognition that upset customers exist, and are a bad thing. It's just that they're not satisfied they've squeezed every dime they can until they can see people visibly upset. Either that or they have really, really lousy test groups.

There also appears to be some intent of "Let's give them something really nasty, so we can backtrack partially and they'll be satisfied with something that's still worse than they had before".

Hail-Storm

September 24th, 2014 at 2:24 PM ^

Players want to win.

They both have the same goal.  They may differ in how to reach this goal, i.e keep coach or exile him, but I do think it is fair for fans to question a coach.  If the players want to keep him, they have the most influence in keeping him around, by winning the BIG.  I also highly doubt that you could find a 6-6 team that has as many fans show up every week as Michigan does.

Brady set the standard of success during his first press conference and confirmed it when he said the 11-2 season was unsuccessful because they did not win the BIG. 

It's perfectly accepatable for fans to hold Hoke to that success factor in year 4. Players, the only way to silence the media in regards to Hoke is to win. 

BlueLikeJazz

September 24th, 2014 at 12:31 PM ^

Which, I realize, Obvious Comment Is Obvious.

But apart from the general ennui, it's hard to know what to root for.  A total collapse would certainly cost Hoke his job, and probably Brandon.  But it could also mean another couple years in the wilderness after recruits and players leave, a new system is installed, a mediocre coach is hired, etc.

A 7-1 B1G season might take them to Indy and put them in a good bowl.  But then Hoke (and maybe Brandon) both likely return, and do we really want that?

So I'm rooting for what (I hope) is the most likely outcome: 5-3 in the B1G, with losses to MSU and OSU, and one more frustrating derp loss thrown in.  That gets the team into a bowl they would likely win, keeps many of the recruits, but leads to inevitable coaching and AD change.  If I knew Hoke would still be gone, I'd root for 6-2 without the stupid extra loss.  But I'm afraid that 8-4 and a bowl win keeps Hoke his job.

So, go Blue this Saturday? I guess?

 

BlueLikeJazz

September 24th, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

I'd still love to see 8-0, B1G championship, all of that.  Each game I'll be rooting my ass off for them to win.  But looking at the season as a whole, what outcome do I think serves the team best long term?

8-0, yes.  Now that I'm off crack, I think 5-3 is probably the most likely and best long term outcome.

TIMMMAAY

September 24th, 2014 at 6:39 PM ^

Word. Support the team, regardless of what's happening. 

Further, I really think we need to back off the ledge a bit and see how the season plays out. As unlikely as it seems, the team could still turn in a good season. If things go well through B1G play, I'd be okay with giving Hoke another year. The only qualifier I'd add to that is regarding Harbaugh; if he wants to come here, I think you have to make that move at this point. 

Hail-Storm

September 24th, 2014 at 2:30 PM ^

is 8-0 win the BIG Championship. Keep Hoke exit Brandon.

Brandon did a very good job of bringing the base together when he was hired in, but by all accounts, has pushed a huge wedge between the AD and fans, and now it seems, former players.

Hoke continues to be a uniter of the base and a good guy for the program.  If he can do all the things he does now and win, than this is what I believe would be best for the program. I am not confidant this can happen, but this is what I will root for.

You are completely justified, however, to want to move on from both without a total black hole, and I have no qualms with that viewpoint.