Unverified Voracity Wants Money For Nothing

Submitted by Brian on October 4th, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Brilliance is brilliant even if it's not yours. Via the comments of The Only Colors:


This is not a criticism of Brady Hoke. Brady Hoke went for it on fourth and two. Hoke uber alles.

Fleming many places. The AV Club has launched in Ann Arbor with a few stories, one of them focused on the response to Patrick Fleming's death not only at Michigan but around the marching band world:

A group of representatives from the Ohio State marching band drove from Columbus to Ann Arbor just so they could say a few kind words during Wednesday’s practice. And MSU posted a YouTube recording of their entire band playing “Amazing Grace” as a tribute to Fleming. (The band’s version of the song, by the way, is just the way it should be: proudly, wonderfully loud and brassy.) 

The goodwill doesn’t stop with the Big Ten. If you go to the MMB’s Facebook page, you’ll see condolences from members of seemingly every college marching band in existence. Notably, there are a fair amount from the University of Massachusetts, the roles reversed from when their band director George Parks died last year while his Marching Minutemen were en route to Ann Arbor.

The goodwill doesn’t stop with the Big Ten. If you go to the MMB’s Facebook page, you’ll see condolences from members of seemingly every college marching band in existence. Notably, there are a fair amount from the University of Massachusetts, the roles reversed from when their band director George Parks died last year while his Marching Minutemen were en route to Ann Arbor.

How much money again? Via the magic of FOIA, AnnArbor.com reveals the finances of next year's matchup against Alabama, but they are not specific enough about a critical detail:

In addition to $4.7 million, U-M will receive 200 tickets, two luxury boxes and one field-level suite. The U-M marching band will receive free entry and reserved seating. U-M cheerleaders, dance team and mascots will also receive free entry.

Officials will provide approximately 25,000 tickets for Michigan to sell.

Does Michigan buy those tickets to resell at basically no gain or do they get them for free? The difference there is huge. If it's the former that $4.7 million makes this a negligible financial gain. Michigan made $41.3 million from spectator admissions last year, or about $5.2 million per game. They have to write checks for bodybag games but if bowl trips are any indication the cost to ship the team and the band to Dallas will be at least as much as half-million or so Michigan is hypothetically making if it's just the 4.7 million they're banking. If they're also flogging 2.5 million worth of tickets that's a big bump.

There are also some quotes from Brandon than make this seem awesome because it's like "a regular season bowl experience," by which he means a crappy environment thousands of miles away from either school run by a guy in a blazer. I'd rather play Alabama than San Jose State but Michigan playing in Dallas against a team from Alabama just reinforces how fan-screwing college football has become.

Here's a fantabulous statement that should totally obliterate your opposition to players getting more of what they bring in:

Brandon said the 967-mile trip is a part of U-M athletics’ effort to rebrand itself.

In the past year, U-M has hosted its first night game, purchased and installed a $20 million pair of scoreboards and drastically restructured its athletics marketing arm to include more than a dozen marketing professionals, up from three at the start of 2010.

“Where we were before, I don’t know if we would have considered going off campus to play a game like that,” Brandon said of the Alabama-Michigan game.

Insert Lloyd Carr sneering "money" here. Guy was 150% right about the direction college football was going upon his retirement. Maybe I'm just watching baseball right now, but rebranding the Yankees would get you shot, and deservedly.

(Budget HT: cutter)

BONUS BONUS, and by bonus bonus I mean not bonus not bonus. Michigan just sent out a letter to everyone on the season ticket waiting list telling them "500 bucks or GTFO." The 500 bucks guarantees you nothing except the privilege of waiting for season tickets. The privilege of buying split-season non-guaranteed seats will run you $100.

This may be a good time to revisit next year's home schedule:

Air Force
Michigan State

You could scalp half the season for the 100 bucks they're charging you just to be in line for tickets.

Hoover Street Rag on this development:

I've always wanted my own Michigan season tickets, and I was waiting out my opportunity.  I've cobbled together season ticket packages from the Alumni Association, from the Athletic Department's general sale, from friends, from other means.  So I have gone to my share of games, especially over the last five years.  But the reality is simply that I don't have $1000 to spend on six games in 2012, especially if the highlights are Michigan State and Iowa.  I suppose this is the new economic reality of big time college football, the middle class are being squeezed out of a stadium that can hold a medium sized Michigan city; the wealthy, those who can afford to donate to the athletic department, are the lifeblood of the program, the core customers to whom need to be catered, both figuratively and literally.  Season tickets are not about having tickets for all of the games, but rather assuring that you have tickets for Ohio State or Michigan State, depending on the year.  This is not new, but it's going to become more and more common with the ever escalating financial demands on the season ticket holders.  The Athletic Department now faces a stadium for the Ohio State game which may lack an enthusiastic student section because of the post-Thanksgiving date of the game, and may lack the focused pro-Michigan crowd they want due to potential highest bidder ticket sell off by season ticket holders.  Perhaps it doesn't matter to the Athletic Department.  As long as the ticket has been paid for, it doesn't matter who is in the stands.  The partnership with StubHub seems to indicate this line of thinking may have merit.

I wanted to quote a lot less of that just so you'd click through but there's at least twice as much discussion of this. During the season I don't have a lot of time to spend on this but I feel the papercuts incrementing. In the long run finding the exact breaking point at which your mostly-full stadium puts up with your marketing seems like a recipe for long-term decline.

Speaking of long term decline…

Ohio State business. There is more of it and it further tests the idea that there is anything resembling compliance or control within a 200-mile radius of Columbus. I'm wary of exposing myself to more homerderp statements in the aftermath of the NCAA not even bothering to charge failure to monitor, let alone lack of institutional control, in the aftermath of tatgate, but, like, seriously.

Even the intentionally bland ESPN Big Ten blog is beginning to ask WTF:

"These failures are individual failures, failures of individual athletes, obviously a previous coach," Smith said Monday. "It's not a systemic failure of compliance."

There's that line again. Just a few bad apples. Apple cart's fine. Nothing to see here, NCAA. Keep moving along.

"These individual decisions were made to go off the reservation," Smith said. "At the end of the day, it’s not a systems problem."

Remind me to ask Smith where I can find this reservation. Getting paid for not working? Sign me up!

"These were individual decisions by individual people," Smith said. "It's not 30."

It's getting close.

Doctor Saturday on the same issue:

As of today, that list of wayward individuals includes:

• A former head coach who admitted to (and was formally charged with) covering up major NCAA violations by multiple high-profile players for nearly nine months, including the entire 2010 regular season and the 2011 Sugar Bowl, even after said violations became public.

• A starting quarterback who was initially suspended for accepting more than $1,000 in improper benefits, and later forced to leave the team amid reports that he a) Accepted tens of thousands of dollars more in exchange for autographing memorabilia, and b) Had been regularly accepting money from a businessman in his hometown, with whom the head coach kept in frequent contact, for more than two years after they had been specifically warned to cut all financial ties.

• Four other veteran players suspended along with the quarterback for accepting thousands of dollars in improper benefits.

• Two of those same four players suspended further for accepting more improper benefits after having already been suspended for accepting improper benefits.

• Three other players suspended for accepting small cash payments from a booster, apparently via a teammate who had already been suspended for improper benefits.

• A booster formally disassociated from the program for providing said payments.

That's what Ohio State has more or less owned up to, not including the discounted cars and other assorted freebies that have failed to progress beyond the "rumor/allegation" phase. That's what we can realistically say we know.

So... that seems sort of less than controlled, you know? Here's someone who agrees:

The fact that Smith has failed to notice Bobby DiGeronimo, an OSU booster who has apparently been secretly paying OSU athletes for years, or Edward Rife, the architect of the tat-gate scandal, to communicate with its athletes is embarrassing. Even after all that has ensued this offseason with the punishments and sanctions, athletes are still finding ways to get in trouble. For Smith to say OSU doesn't have a problem with their "system," is a joke.

That's Fox Sports's Thayer Eva—Wait… that's Eleven Warriors. What?

Etc.: Not one but two sets of excellent Northwestern wallpaper. The Illinois-Northwestern game in full. Five hours of Calvin Magee explaining the spread n shred three years too late. Shorter Houston Nutt: "a verbal commitment is a sacred bond; a signed letter of intent is for me to poop on."

Yost Built previews the hockey season: defensemen and goalies; forwards.



October 4th, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

You'd think he wouldn't put Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State as home games all on the same year. Perhaps when the ND game takes a break this can be changed, but yes, I'd want an a la carte season ticket package. Pay up for odd years, skip the evens.

Indiana Blue

October 4th, 2011 at 7:22 PM ^

Obviously the B1G controls the B1G schedule, it is high time to tell nd to move to the even years (ie - 2012, 2014 etc) opposite Nebraska and ohio.  If nd says they won't then DB needs to tell them buh-bye.  Makes room for a home and home with an SEC / Big12 / or PAC12 team anyway.  nd needs Michigan many times more than we need them.

Go Blue!


October 4th, 2011 at 6:56 PM ^

Michigan has both Nebraska and Ohio State home or away on the same year. Nebraska has only one other top tier intradivision team (UM) so the issue is moot, unless you want to count MSU or Iowa as the same tier as PSU/Wisc/OSU. Ohio State splits with Wisconsin and Penn State the same each year, against Michigan the opposite. Obviously the reason is UM/OSU is a locked in interdivisional game, whereas other teams aren't locked into that quality of an opponent. And having Michigan State opposite the NU/OSU years I guess sets up the same situation as OSU's.

Fair enough counterpoints. My point was the same as Brian's - why as a paying customer (not as a die hard fan) would you ever consider buying season tickets to even numbered years?


October 4th, 2011 at 7:17 PM ^

The problem is that flipping the ND series requires ND to flip either their game against State or USC. Otherwise, all three of those would be home or away in any given year. I can't believe they'd sign onto that. I don't know what the answer is, maybe abandoning the ND series.


October 5th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

Brandon has publicly said that having Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all at home or all away on the football schedule is unacceptable.  That means one of two things will have to happen--the Big Ten's future conference schedules will have to split the locations of the UN-L and OSU games or the Notre Dame series will have to be altered or cancelled.

On the former, the 2013/4 conference schedules have already been published, so that's not going to happen until at least 2015.  Also keep in mind that the Big Ten will be going to nine conference games starting 2017 (provided there isn't a change in thinking with conference expansion, etc.), so we might see that split taking place even further down the line.

IRT Notre Dame, as one other poster wrote, ND doesn't want to change things because the Irish want to split the locations of the UM and USC games.  If the Big Ten doesn't change the conference schedule and ND is unwilling to alter theirs, then Brandon will be put in a position where he'll have to change things.  UM and ND have to give one another notice four years in advance to cancel or alter the current scheduling agreement, so the earliest that could possibly happen might be 2016 (unless notice has already been given and we don't know about it yet).

When the nine-conference game schedule goes into effect, expect to see Michigan topped off at seven home games per year.  There'll be alternating seasons of two and three non-conference games paired with five and four B1G games.  What that probably means is Michigan will play Wisconsin and Penn State on a more regular basis (probably swapping out every two years) with Illinois, Indiana and Purdue rotating in as well.

That arrangement should make for a better overall slate of home games for Michigan.  Assuming Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State stay on their current scedule rotation and Nebraska is flipped by 2017, the schedule could look at something like this:




9/23: at Minnesota (Leaders)

9/30:  NORTWESTERN (Leaders)

10/7: at Michigan State (Leaders)

10/14:  BYE WEEK

10/21:  IOWA (Leaders)

10/28:  at Penn State (Legends)

11/4:  ILLINOIS (Legends)

11/11:  at Nebraska (Leaders)

11/18:  at Purdue (Legends)

11/25:  OHIO STATE (Legends)

Within conference play, that's four home games with two in the Leaders Division (Northwestern, Iowa) and two from the Legends Division (protected rival Ohio State and Illinois).  The five road B1G games are Minesota, Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue.  Indiana and Wisconsin aren't on the schedule. 

One last note on the ticket pricing and the extra stadium seating Brandon has discussed for the south end zone.  While we understand that the plan is to put the visiting teams fans is those higher seats, it also gives Michigan an opportunity to set aside a "family friendly" section of the stadium were seats can be purchased for a lower price.  Part of any good marketing strategy is broadening the base and getting more families on stricter budgets with youngsters in tow may be an action he might undertake. 








coastal blue

October 4th, 2011 at 6:59 PM ^

But given the fact that Wisconsin is playing in EL for the second year in a row, you'd think Brandon could have lobbied for Nebraska to be an away game this year as opposed to a home game. Who knows, maybe he did. 

On one hand, with the Big Ten so down this year, it might have played out to our favor in the short term. On the other, next year looks to be brutal, both as a schedule and as a Michigan Stadium viewing experience. 

Ed Shuttlesworth

October 4th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

In the modern sports economy (which now includes serious colleges like Michigan), season ticket holders are, functionally, underwriters -- people willing to guarantee the issuing company their offering price for the entire package of games, including ones that aren't worth the ticket's face value. 

Stubhub and the other secondary markets are there (and encouraged by the issuing companies) to help the underwriter distribute whatever tickets he doesn't want to actually use into an efficient marketplace.

Since anyone who wants to go to any game can simply go to Stubhub and buy a ticket -- and be ensured of paying true market value (**), I'm hardpressed to see why anyone would want to sign up to be an underwriter.

For example, I went to the Tigers/Yankees playoff game Sunday and sat in a very good seat.  I'm sure the Yankees used "guaranteed playoff seats" as one of the come-ons to convince people to pay an obscene amount for season tickets in that same seat ... but why would that ever work, when you can just go to StubHub the day before the game, pay a little over face and get them?

(**) Plus Stubhub's relatively small vig.


October 4th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

As a UM grad living in Texas, I'm at least fired up to have a Michigan game I can drive to.  I'd rather have us able to schedule home & home with some actual competition like UT or A&M or something, but I'll take what I can get in this environment. 

It's also good for recruiting to get all those Texas recruits at the game. 



October 4th, 2011 at 6:52 PM ^

The Alabama game is good for recruiting everywhere--not just in Texas. Night games at Michigan Stadium and that game in Dallas serve to build up Michigan's image as a football program on a nationwide basis. Here's the key quote from Brandon in that annarbor.com article:

“One of the driving forces behind everything we’re doing is to enhance the experience of our student athletes,” Brandon said. “The reason we want to create wow experiences…. is because that’s why student athletes come to Michigan.”


October 4th, 2011 at 8:20 PM ^

My son & I travel (fly) in to SE Michigan once annually for a UM game weekend.  We are already have chosen the "Bama game in JerryWorld as our game for 2012.  Instead of two plane tickets to Detroit, it's two tickets to Dallas.  Three nights hotel in Dallas, not Detroit.  Out-of-pocket this will be a wash financially.   Brian keeps making snide comments about Dallas not being a worthwhile destination, but we are looking forward to playing some Texas golf, enjoying some Texas chow, and a great football game in a destination sports venue.  We love the Big House and we love Ann Arbor.  But we're also loving that we get a little something different next year (as a one-off) and looking forward to it.

Lloyd Carr not being in favor of this kind of  event doesn't concern me.  The man had many strengths, but Public Relations was not one of them.



October 4th, 2011 at 8:22 PM ^

You'll get plenty of all you are looking for. I lived there for 8 years. It is one of the great food towns in the country.   

This is a great thing for Michigan in too many respects to count. Some fans like you are embracing it, and others aren't. Lest we forget that this is for the players and the program first. Fans are an important consideration in the whole picture of Michigan football, but not primary. Brandon has been up front about that and it makes good sense.

Also, I don't see a rebranding from all this, like we're dumping the winged helmet or something. This is enhancing the already great brand.  


October 4th, 2011 at 11:02 PM ^

I would venture that some of the people who don't support the idea whole-heartedly find it hard to justify, or cover, the extra expense.  They are priced out, which, for a professional game is fine but this is amateur ball (i.e., students) where most of us have contributed money and effort to the parent institution.  Of course, the students who play at Jerry World will remember it for a lifetime and that warrants consideration.

Bando Calrissian

October 4th, 2011 at 6:07 PM ^

In 1979-80, my parents were young alums who were in their fifth season of having season tickets.  They were amongst the first to become Life Members of the Victors Club, able to cobble together enough money over ten years to earn themselves a set of perks (for life) that the Victors Club has spent the last 10 years attempting to back away from.  

Little by little, they've whittled it all away in a transition to points systems and luxury seating, always more interested in those who can pay more today than they are about honoring promises (made in writing) to those who gave as much as they could in an era when the Victors Club had enough members to fill two rows of parking in the Crisler lot.  Next year, we anticipate we will be kicked out of that same parking lot for the first time in 30 years.  This year, we lost our long-time tailgating spot because Athletics put a number on the spot.  5 games in, it's been parked in once.  This Is Michigan, indeed.

I've already come to the conclusion that I, at the same point in my life when my parents joined the Victors Club, will never have that same level of access, or the ability to gain it with the same resources they had then.  With this decision, combined with the fact my parents are no longer allowed to transfer 2 each of our family's 4 tickets to me and my sister so that we will be able to take our kids to Michigan games after grandma and grandpa are gone, means I will likely never have season tickets for Michigan Football.  

I do not anticipate being indigent, but I also do not anticipate ever being able to afford a $500 "opportunity" every year before I actually get to buy said tickets.  Or the ability to justify 70 bucks a game (or more, by then) for a schedule like this.

Long story short, I'm starting to really come around on the idea that my future kids and I are going to have really great tailgates in front of our TV's more weeks than not in the decades to come.  There's a point at which the special-ness Michigan Football becomes too expensive to justify.  I think, for me, it's just about at that point.  

Maize and Blue…

October 4th, 2011 at 7:00 PM ^

While I may never be able to take my kids to one of the big games, I have gotten some great deals to other games this year.  $86 for three tickets to Minnesota, $34 for a pair to Eastern, $90 for a pair to SDSU.  I know they're not glamour games, but the kids love to go anyways.

At least DB won't have to worry about adding the end zone seats as he is going to have a hard time selling out the stadium the way it is now.  Three sell outs this year and I would guess maybe only one next year.  Now that is branding- a limited product that used to have more demand than supply and no longer does except on "premium games". 


October 4th, 2011 at 8:49 PM ^

Cool story bro.  You are such an ignorant IDIOT.  I really don't like you.  If you don't like it, send your tickets to an ACTUAL Michigan fan.  


"Well, if they need music to get them ready to play, they shouldn't play anyway."




October 4th, 2011 at 8:58 PM ^


Section 1

October 4th, 2011 at 10:55 PM ^

Sensible; informed; true.  I wish it wasn't true, but it is.

btw:  We've crossed the Rubicon on transfers of season tickets.  I think that since they allowed it back in mid-decade when the PSD program went into effect, they may find a way to do it again.  Or else, maybe your parents will still be season ticket holders when you are in your seventies and they are, uh, 110.  Ya know?  ;-)


October 5th, 2011 at 12:14 AM ^

just to add some generational perspective to your story - my parents subscribed to season tix starting in the early 60's.  along with the 4 tix in section 22, we also subscribed to a parking pass in the "blue lot / Crisler Lot" simultaneously which was tethered to these tickets by written guarantee as long as we renewed the season football tix.  when the Victors Club was created, the Victors Club members (such as your parents) started poaching all the "guaranteed" parking spots in the Crisler lot which were supposedly guaranteed for as long as we renewed our season  tix.  In 1990 we were kicked out of our "guaranteed" Crisler parking spot by the final push of Victors Club members.  i still walk through that lot and silently glare at the people tailgating in our "guaranteed" spot that the Victors Club took from us.  so dude, it's been going on for generations.  if you wanted a parking spot in the Crisler Lot, you needed to join the Victors Club by 1990.  if you wanted to keep it in this generation, you needed to buy a box or club seats. 

we learned to enjoy the golf course back 20 years ago when our contracted spot was usurped from us even though we had a written guarantee for life in the Crisler Lot.   suggest you do the same.


Bando Calrissian

October 5th, 2011 at 1:20 AM ^

Of course.  It's never been lost on me that there were folks there before we were.  Yet don't blame us for "poaching" spots.  At the time, the Blue Lot was still big, and the number of donors comparatively small.

It's just more of the same, I guess.  Promises made, promises conveniently forgotten, and they know there's nothing we can do.  What are you going to do, sue them?  

Yet a promise is a promise.  And you honor the promises before you reallocate those spots for someone new.  When the Victors Club started, those promises were made to a small number of people, who if they are even still alive could be more than accomodated in the current Blue Lot spaces, even with the luxury seating spots.  Then it was expanded to "Champions Club," which shoved most of the Victors Club people out.  Then it was expanded to the luxury seating, which shoved out most everyone else except for Champions Club and a sliver of the old Blue Lot folks.  

Most of what you see in the Blue Lot now is a very small portion of conventional Blue Lot passes and Blue Lot handicapped passes (easily a quarter of what it used to be), Champions Club (the numbered spots you spoke of), luxury seating spots (now numbered), and a large swatch of spots assumed en masse by Schembechler Hall (which they admitted was far more than they actually needed) for the use of football support staff and coaches' families.  Which are always empty on game day.

The whole thing is a cold, thankless sham, made not to recognize loyalty, or even to be fair, but to shove out the giving has-beens for the current have-mores.  As you know, it's nothing new.  And it seems Athletics/the Victors Club always has a way of packaging it in such a way that you feel unimportant, unwanted, or disposable. 


October 5th, 2011 at 9:21 AM ^

If they made a promise to you for being one willing to be one of the first to put down the money to support the program and the reward was a lifetime spot, then you should get a spot, for your lifetime.  To go back and say "well, yeah, but they're much more valuable now" is just bad business, and ethics. 

But that's for the lifetime of the purchaser, not the lifetime of their whole family tree. I can see the love of seats, or a spot, but I can completely see them not wanting it passed down from generation to generation. Not because it's good for business (though yes, new membership can be made to pay more for a parking spot...but they've already shown they don't need new customers to increase the price/donation for already assigned tickets), because it's actually easier to have a ready customer for the seats, but because it makes it an even more exclusive "club" of people who have access to getting seats....the majority of the Stadium could be legacy.  It'd be nice if I could pass on my ticket to my future kids (and if my mom had kept hers when she moved around, as bad as the team was back then, I could have been at the 50....and no longer afford the tickets, probably).  But there's something to be said for them becoming students on their own, and then acquiring them for themselves too.

As always, it's all about the $$$, and whether the prices will still be managable for the average joe, and if you make it pro costs, whether you get a pro attitude with an empty stadium if the team is bad. Sadly, it's never going to change for the better.


October 5th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

This just seems so wrong. Well, most of it does. Taking away the parking spot? Wrong. Taking away the parking lot? Wrong. (I'm curious:  was the spot and the lot guaranteed in writing when they joined the Victor's Club?) Charging $500 for privilege to buy season tickets? Gouging, wrong.

The one thing I have always felt a bit queasy about, however, is the perk of passing on seats to children. Even in my day (in the 70's,) I remember a bit of resentment that legacy children were able to inherit season tickets from their parents, thus keeping those good seats from other alumni. I would love a compromise:  Season ticketholders could pass on their tickets to their children, provided their children attended Michigan and were thus alumni.

Also, I vaguely recall that the waiting list was huge back then, and could last forever before someone could buy season tickets. While I'm not a big fan of the $500 fee, I wish there was tiered pricing for seats. There already is tiered pricing in one way:  students have a discount. (Question:  do staff and faculty get some kind of discount?) Having said that, I could see a $500 fee perhaps between the 30 & 30 yard lines, scaling down from there ($400 20 - 30 yard line, $300 10 - 20 yard line, $200 0 - 10 yard line, $100 along endzone, $0 for the end zones and the nose bleeds.) Obviously, this would need to be tweaked (down a bit for first 5 rows, up a bit for rows very high, especially in the end zone.)

I also am resentful of a small thing:  not being able to bring sealed drinking water into the stadium. It is hogwash to call this a security issue:  a plastic bottle of water that costs 10 cents in a case from the grocery costs 30 times that in the stadium. That is just wrong. I guess it makes sense for someone coming from Dominos, but it truly does seem like there is a price tag on every last tiny thing now.


October 4th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

Brian called out one of Brandon's chief marketers for seeming to incorrectly identify the players as the department's customers.  I think Brian was implying the fans were the customers.  However, the players generate much more revenue than the fans.