Best and Worst: Indiana

Submitted by bronxblue on November 2nd, 2014 at 10:41 PM

This is going to be an abbreviated Best and Worst.  First off, I've just survived a weekend of family celebrating both my wife's and my daughter's birthdays, so I finished watching the DVR of the game about an hour ago.  Plus, I'm dying right now of a sinus headache, the type that makes you wonder just how bad the longer-term damage would be to drill a teeny-weeny hole in your skull to release the pressure.  Plus, it's IU, Michigan is 4-5, and they just fired Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke is pretty much doomed to follow.  What happened on the field isn't really important.

Best:  Michigan Won!  And, Like, By A Lot of Points!!  More Than the Spread!!!

By my own back-of-an-envelope calculations, this is the first time Michigan has done that to a Power 5 team since the Truman administration.  That's the Marshall Plan for ya!

The game was never really in doubt when it became clear Indiana wasn't going to throw the ball forward, and with a 17-0 lead going into the half it was kinda, what's the word, "relaxing" to be watching a Michigan football game.  For future reference, I want to feel this way again sooner rather than later.

Worst:  The Part Where I Kinda Defend Dave Brandon

So yeah, something else happened in conjunction with this game.

The big news at the end of the week was David Brandon's resignation/peaceful surrender/It's not me, it's you as athletic director at the University of Michigan.  Obviously, this comes as a shock to everyone.

What was a bit surprising was the speediness in which the change was made; while I doubt the two are related, within a week of MGoBlog's release of Dave Brandon's Live Journal-esque email screeds, the pizza baron was out of office and early reports have them looking hard at Jim Phillips at Northwestern amongst other targets, which seems to be a departure of sorts from the "Michigan Man" ties that drove previous searches and comprised the initial "wish lists" for Brandon's replacement.  This is good for the University and, frankly, for Brandon; I certainly don't want to work at a place where a large number of people actively despise me, and I'm sure he'll rest easy on his pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.

But as (apparently) one of the resident contrarians/apologists for Dave Brandon as AD, I don't take much joy in his firing.  He needed to go because he failed the most basic tenet of being an athletic directory, the same rule that offensive linemen are told:  keep your name out of the newspapers.  If you are doing your job well, nobody should be talking about you until the end of the year when you collecting your team awards and QBs are talking about how they owe you a steak dinner and a nice watch after the Pro Bowl.

Dave Brandon the man became a PR circus, mishandling so many public elements of his job that it almost felt like he was doing it on purpose.  He kept trumpeting "dynamic pricing" of tickets while outright lying about attendance figures, he helped whittle away Michigan's voluminous waitlist by driving away large swaths of diehards with seat "donations" and screwy point systems, he messed around with gameday traditions and neutered the band in favor of Special K rocking the Big House with some of your favorite Deja Vu jams, and always, ALWAYS doubled down on bad decisions with condescension and general assholeness.  In particular, his handling of the football team and it struggles, highlighted this year by Morris's concussion fiasco and the rally, destroyed whatever residual goodwill he still had with most fans.

Still, what continues to bother me about the discussion surrounding his firing is the pervasive argument that Brandon's tenure was not beneficial to Michigan athletics in general, which I'm not sure is (a) true, (b) measurable, and (c) relevant to his firing.  As I stated earlier, Brandon had to go because he kept screwing up publicly and the cash cow was hemorrhaging support and money.

Measuring Brandon's tenure as it relates to other sports is difficult because so many factors are legitimately beyond his control and/or difficult to quantify.  Brian tweeted the following:

The argument being made was that before Brandon arrived, Michigan was an elite athletic institution across a variety of sports; it wasn't just a "football factory" that failed to live up the dual ideals of amateurism and Title IX equality.  Yet once his MBA-fueled policies took hold and he started to replace the institutional memory of the athletic department, the other non-revenue sports were marginalized and suffered.

First off, I question the premise that the Directors Cup is a good barometer of an athletic department's overall health and well-being.  When Stanford is riding a John Wooden-esque 19-straight titles because they are really good at golf and water polo while sports like basketball, hockey, and wrestling are ignored, you have to wonder a bit about the system's efficacy.

So I went through and compiled a list of Michigan's finishes in the final standings since 1999, with the highest-scoring sport included.

Year Ranking Highest-scoring Sport
 1999 6  W. Rowing
 2000 3  W. Rowing
 2001 4  W. Rowing
 2002 6  Softball
 2003 4  W. Rowing
 2004 2  W. Rowing
 2005 4  Softball
 2006  24  Softball
 2007 4  W T&F
 2008 3 Hockey/W. T&F
 2009 5 M. Golf/W. Water Polo
 2010 25 W. Water Polo
 2011 15 M. Golf
 2012 10 W. Rowing
 2013 4 Softball

So what I see is a school that was pretty good at Women's Rowing and Softball in the early 2000's, consistently finishing in the top 10 with one outlier in 2006.  Then the year he took over, the school suffered through a pretty terrible run at the selected sports (a dip highly unlikely to have been affected by Brandon's nascent hiring), and has since trended upwards, reaching #4 despite their national championships in Men's swimming & diving and gymnastics not counting in the final tally.   Rankings aren't complete for 2014, so there might be some softening.  Still, if you read the chart it sure looks like Brandon stepped into a leaky ship and helped plug the holes, though not being deeply knowledgeable of the various other sports at UM, I can't say for sure.

And on an interesting sidenote, here is a breakdown of the national championships Michigan has claimed over the same span, broken up by BD (Before Brandon) and AD (After Brandon)

Number of National Championships from 1999-2009:  3

M Gymnastics:  1999

Field Hockey:  2001

Softball: 2005

Number of National Championships from 2010-2014: 4

M. Gymnastics: 2010, 2013, 2014

M. Swimming and Diving:  2013

My point isn't to make an argument that Brandon should have been retained because the gymnastics team suddenly got better, only to argue that Dave Brandon's official job was to be the Athletic Director for the ENTIRE University, and on paper it looks like he wasn't doing a half-bad job.  The basketball team had just suffered through a 15-17 season after a promising return to the tournament in 2009-2010, and there were rumbling that Brandon might need to remove Beilein and go select one of "his" guys.  Yet he stuck with a guy he inherited from the last administration, helped to improve facilities, and now Michigan is one of the most consistent basketball programs in the country.  Conversely, the hockey team has gone into a talespin recently under Red, and yet it doesn't appear Brandon put much pressure on Berenson to turn the ship around or ship out.

Maybe with Brandon gone we'll hear from the other programs about his tenure from their perspective; my guess is that most will say he was fine to work with, gave them the resources they needed to be successful, and mostly stayed out of the way.  We keep hearing condemnations from "friends of John Bacon" that Michigan's financials were in shambles and Brandon should be fired for that, and yet the Michigan brand is, by virtually any metric, still one of the most marketable and profitable out there, doubly impressive because of the state's meager economic assistance and the poor performance of the football team in years past.  Making money is a major part of an AD's responsibility, and the guy who takes over for Brandon is probably continue a number of his policies, though probably with less fanfare.  It isn't breaking news that college sports are "big business", and anyone expecting the next AD to be a radical departure from this core outlook is probably going to be disappointed.

So I guess my point is that Dave Brandon had to be fired because he had a number of very public flameouts, and when people are marching on your boss's lawn calling for your head it's time to pack up the framed footballs and retire to your floating island or wherever guys like Brandon hang out.  But I don't know if he was a bad athletic director in totality, and the fact that doesn't matter in the final calculus of his firing shouldn't invalidate the positives he did at UM.

Best:  The Gooch

Back to football, Indiana has a freshmen linebacker on their team called Greg Gooch.   He didn't seem to chart, but I couldn't help seeing his name without remembering one of my favorite part-time characters on Scrubs.

Worst:  The Offense is Still Broken

 

Yes, Michigan just put up 404 yards on Indiana, and recorded both their first 200-yard passing game of the year (!) and first 100-yard rusher game in the B1G since the last time UM played IU (!!), but man is it hard to get excited.  For one thing, Indiana has a turrible defense that gives up huge plays to everyone, yet Michigan's longest play was a 34-yard strike to Darboh that featured Gardner having to bypass the rush, step into a lane, stutter-step about a million times, and still have to throw a tight throw to Amara as he finally shook off the IU defensive back.  It was a good play and helped get Michigan in position for an opening score, but Jeremy Gallon had 369 yards receiving on his own last year against effectively the same IU defense, including multiple 50+ yard receptions.  It remains an offense bereft of "playmakers", which I know is absolutely the most cliche thing to say but is kinda true.

If you look the offensive drive efficiency for NFL offenses, you see that the best teams score quickly and with (relatively) few plays.  It makes sense intuitively, as dinking-and-dunking your way down the field requires your offense to execute multiple times successfully, which as anyone with a basic understanding of probability knows that success rates tend to go down the more times you tempt fate.  Looking at Michigan's first couple of meaningful drives, you see these long 8+ play drives that are littered with short gains and the occasional long-ish run or completion but nothing really explosive.  It worked because it was Indiana and Drake Johnson had a career game (more on that later), but when your longest plays of the year so far are 62-yard and 61-yard runs by Green and Smith against App. St. to start the season, and your future 1st-round WR has a season long of 43 yards on an ill-timed bomb that probably should have been picked off by the PSU safety, you can't read TOO deep into a semi-breakout day.  Last year's offense was way more boom-or-bust, but this year's "consistent muck" probably wasn't what everyone hoped for when Michigan made a change at offensive coordinator.

Meh:  Gardner, Again

Just copy-paste one of my sections about Gardner from any diary this year.  Nothing has changed.  He's broken, not in a way that can't be fixed, but in a way that nobody at Michigan, in the next 4 games, is going to come close to accomplishing.  Sadly, he'd be the perfect QB for an Urban Meyer or a Chip Kelly offense, a guy who can outrun most defenders and throw the ball effectively enough to keep them honest.  He's a sunk cost, a broken wagon wheel dipped in dysentery on the Oregon Trail of 2014 Michigan football.

Best(?):  Disney's The Drake Johnson Story

First off, that was a legit good performance by Johnson, even with the opponent factored in.  He looked confident, made decisive cuts, broke some tackles, and had a couple of bursts that reminded people he was a pretty accomplished hurdler at Pioneer.  Once De'Veon Smith left the game with an injury, Johnson stepped in and turned a close-ish game into a blowout, and as noted before had the first 100-yard performance against a conference opponent in about a year.  Plus, being a hometown kid performing so well on Homecoming, after such a tumultuous week, is a great story and one he'll probably remember forever.

That said, I have no expectation that he (or this team) will be able to reproduce this running effort against anyone else on the schedule save (maybe) Northwestern, but even that might be generous.  It has literally been years since Michigan had anything approximating a consistent running game, and that was mostly because of the threat of Denard in the backfield.  With Gardner still nursing an injured ankle and the coaches consciously not asking him to do much on the ground, this 184 yards feels like the end of a movie that probably won't have any more sequels this year.

Best:  The Mendoza Line

This is the second team Michigan held a team under 200 yards of total offense (the other Miami [NTM]), and 75 of those came on IU's 2nd-to-last drive of the game.  I know IU is starting 18th-string freshmen and Buffy sidekick Zander Diamont, who has thrown something like 23 passes for 35 yards in his career, but holding superback Tevin Coleman to a shade over 100 yards even with those garbage carries is impressive.  Yes, everyone knew that IU had exactly two good players on offense - Coleman and Wynn - and so the defense was able to shift its formations to shutting down those two players, but  it is still pretty impressive that the defense was actually able to execute as well as it did.

It's hard to tell if the unit is "good" or not, since they alternately kick offenses off the field quickly and give up 80+ yard TD drives to end halves, and the offense has been so disjointed and anemic against most teams on the schedule that they tend to give up yardage and points out of exhaustion as much as poor playmaking.  Even the fact that the offense is one of the slowest in the country (thus reducing the total number of plays per game for both teams) hasn't been a blessing, since 3-and-outs that take 30 seconds or 3-and-outs that take 1 1/2/ minutes aren't functionally different.

I don't expect them to replicate a game like this against anyone left on the schedule, but looking at Maryland and NW I see the possibility for the defense to make a bit of a stand these next couple of weeks before OSU, well, you've all seen Oz.  At best, it's going to be one of the lighter death scenes in Oz.

Best:  Disruption

Again with all "this is Indiana" caveats applying, the defense still had 12 TFLs, including 2 sacks and another QB hit, spearheaded by Jake Ryan absolutely abusing IU's offensive line for 2.5 TFLs and 10 solo tackles all around.  It still feels like a bit of a waste with him in the middle, but it was nice to see him has such a disruptive effect in the game.

It was also the second week in a row that Michigan got a bit of luck in the fumble recovery game, this time Mone recovering Coleman's second stumble-fumble of the first half that Michigan capitalized on for an early 10-point lead.  It's a bit too little, too late, but after having major "luck" issues with fumbles and loose balls the past couple of years, it is nice to see the pendulum turn a bit toward the good guys.

Worst:  The Muggles

Straight off, I didn't know what a Muggle was until this tweet came out.  Despite being a guy who follows professional wrestling, I find stuff like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter slogs to read and just, I don't know, boring.  By all means enjoy what you like, but I've always found it hilarious that a Board post about Wrestlemania is littered with people calling it dumb and fake and yet there are heated discussions about characters in a show based on a series of books about dragons and mythical wolves.

Anyway, apparently Elliott Mealer called the University of Michigan students who called for Dave Brandon's firing muggles, which followed up earlier comments from  other former players that took issue with (I presume) their impression that people were a bit too excited about a guy they knew getting fired, and that the peanut gallery basically won out over the people who had played for the teams, including the current players.  He later deleted the tweet, but because this is the internet a not insignificant number of people returned fire at Mealer, while other agreed with him for a variety of reasons (bad precedence, issues of accountability, etc.).

I don't agree with Mealer's specific rationale, as the "you didn't play, so how do you know" argument is factually weak and intellectually lazy.  I don't need to have played lacrosse to know Dave Brandon wasn't very popular at UM and the lines against him were calcified, just like it doesn't take a parent to know this probably was a bad idea.

Still, he has his right to an opinion, just like anyone else.

But I have a bigger issue with the counter-argument that without "the muggles" paying tickets/attending games, there wouldn't be a need for guys like Mealer.  First off, most schools don't "make money" on college sports; Michigan is one of the few with an athletic department that generates a profit and is self-sustaining; the vast majority of departments rely on public and private funding to keep everything running.  And yet, there are over 125 FBS teams, and even more D1 athletic departments.  Unless we take the argument to its logical extreme that nobody, anywhere would watch college sports, fans' contributions don't cover the cost of an athletic department.  If it did, we wouldn't have basically any sports other than basketball, football, and baseball in the south and hockey in the northeast and Minnesota, and even that might be a stretch.

Secondly, the "I pay your salary" tone devalues a human's opinion and makes it akin to rank entertainment for the crowd's pleasure.  You see it with the arguments against paying players a stipend beyond their scholarships, this idea that they should be happy they have received what they did and stop complaining because most everyone else paid his/her way at Michigan.  Now, I'm not sure about the financial situation for others, but I paid part of my way through Michigan but had assistance from family; I definitely couldn't have afforded it without my loving benefactors (read: parents).  I've since paid for two graduated degrees via a combination of loans, scholarships, and part-time work, but 18-year-old BronxBlue had some help, and based on my peers at UM I wasn't the outlier.  And even if you did pay your whole way, I don't see how that should be held against other people who, for various reasons, are deemed worthy of additional assistance because of some extraordinary ability.  We give scholarships to budding math geniuses, and yet in my years of work in various university licensing offices the vast majority of these individuals didn't generate enough money to cover their funding.  It isn't their fault; in theory university's are designed to mold the future generations, and that can come from a multitude of actions.

Nobody is "right" in this situation; it's just a bunch of opinions about something that is history.  Yes, mob rule isn't usually the best option for making important decisions, but in this case it was pretty clear that Brandon's continued employment was untenable, and the issue was not if but when.  At the same time, men and women who work with Dave Brandon, who interact with him on a daily basis, may hold a different opinion of him compared to those who know him only from blog posts and email exchanges, some of whom certainly aren't blameless about the tone of the discussions.  The old saying is you can't get 10 people to decide on the toppings for a pizza, so expecting everyone to agree about something so dramatic as the firing of a prominent member of the Michigan athletic department is nigh impossible.

Still, it continues to bother me how quickly the discussion turns from a difference of opinion to attacks on people's character or station in life, and I had (foolishly) hoped that the bulk of Michigan fans would have let it go.

Best:  Northwestern

They lost at Iowa 48 to 7, gaining a total of 180 yards of offense.  Justin Jackson averaged more yards a run (4.0) than Trevor Siemian did throwing it (3.8), which I hear isn't a good thing.  Hopefully Michigan can do roughly the same and get the back to .500 before the big showdown (sigh) with Maryland to decide bowl eligibility and let me book my ticket to the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium!  Metro North, here I come!

Comments

glewe

November 2nd, 2014 at 11:13 PM ^

Bronx, thanks for your consistently measured analyses of the events that send this blog in a tizzy. There is a lot of irresponsible opinion-sharing here that generates and heightens negativity to an almost religious fervor. Thanks for boldly standing against that rabble rousing.

aiglick

November 2nd, 2014 at 11:35 PM ^

I hope you feel better.

Respectfully, I disagree with you on Dave Brandon and the whole muggle issue.

As you said, it was untenable for Dave Brandon to remain Athletic Director. I guess you and I disagree that when you do a cost-benefit analysis he was a net positive. Of course a huge part of that is how you view the decision to hire Brady Hoke and if you believe it would be impossible to get a coach that can handle the rigours of a big program with high expectations if we had decided to retain DB as athletics director. I didn't get the pleasure of receiving one of those emails but the fact that he treated season ticketholders and the fan base with such disdain while transfering wealth to a small group of student athletes is reprehensible. He treated some of his stakeholders, coaches and those within the AD, admirably and others miserably, the fan base and alumni. He got what he rightully dserved.

The student athletes do have a right to their opinion but that sentiment is biting the hand that feeds them. I devote a lot of time and energy and some money following the program and these student athletes. Yeah, I don't have to and I have a choice but would they rather that I and other reasonable fans make the decision not to follow them or pay for the priviledge of watching them in person? Tweeting at them or Facebooking them to tell them they suck is wrong but why are they on social media at all talking about these issues? When a person puts an opinion out public it is perfectly valid to question and disagree with said opinion. This forum is a great example of a place where we can disagree with players who seem entitled and not at all appreciative of people who do for the most part support them when frankly their lives would be easier if said people would unplug from the team until they get back to historical norms.

Anyway, I agree to disagree this is just one Internet poster's opinions. I don't know you and you don't know me but I do appreciate a place to air out different ideas and for constructive discussion and this is, as they say, your party and you argued your opinions intelligently. Again, feel better and I'll be hoping for my first victory in person next weekend.

charblue.

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:20 AM ^

was solid on many fronts and worked hard to keep the money flowing through athletic coffers to boost the athletic budget and improve facilities for non-revenue sports, improve Crisler Arena and generate much goodwill between himself and the programs he ran. But he wasn't particularly accountable, disliked critical scrutiny of his actions and decisions, which are always part and parcel of that post, and only tooks steps to explain himself and reverse course when his job survival was still at stake. 

Perhaps worst of all, he failed to support his football coaching hire at one of Hoke's most critical public moments.

If he had appeared with Hoke after the Morris concussion incident either in the immediate press conference following the game or on the Monday after when he and the coach could have formulated a strategy for reviewing and discussing the matter and issuing a joint public release, it would have gone a long way in eliminating much of the outrage that put the university as a whole in such a bad light. And this episode ultimately created the momentum that fueled his forced exit. That was on him. And he made his coach look ridiculous and uncaring in the process.

That mistake, in my mind, is what created the vaccum of leadership that the president saw and most critically addressed in his followup to the incident. So whether Brandon did an effective job for the most part, he failed to lead when his leadership was most needed to help his coach get through a difficult period.

It was almost as if he wanted to step back and let others take the blame while he offered background information instead of proactively standing beside his coach and handling the matter. That is how Dave Brandon failed Hoke and, actually, the players in the program. 

He did accomplish much but his own personality undid him in the best and worst of his productively short but not so happy tenure.

BlueCE

November 3rd, 2014 at 5:00 PM ^

Agree as well,  I did not love Brandon and I think we are better with him gone, but there was a vendetta (maybe led by Brian who has had a beef with him for years) against him and there was a huge herd mentality on this board which I think spread to the student body (since people on here are often the biggest and most vocal fans).

tricks574

November 3rd, 2014 at 12:09 AM ^

Hire a good football coach, or don't massively fuck up elsewhere. If you do even one of those right, you keep your job. DB did neither, he deserved to be fired.

glewe

November 3rd, 2014 at 1:18 AM ^

What an offensive thing to suggest that football is the only important responsibility of the AD to the other several hundred scholarship student athletes, many of whom have won many more championships than football players in recent years at Michigan.

I wanted Brandon gone the whole time, but I call a spade a spade. Brandon did some great things (fundraising and facilities building, for two instances) but when it came to football he alienated the fanbase at every turn. That's it. Nothing more, and nothing less. Bad for us? Yes. Does it mean he fulfilled none of his job requirements in his time here? No.

tricks574

November 3rd, 2014 at 7:22 AM ^

How much money does football bring in? Now how much does literally every single other sport?

Are you honestly going to tell me that Alabama's AD could ever possibly get fired as long as Saban is there and he manages to not get caught in a huge controversy?

Yeah, you have other responsibilities as an AD. None of them are as important as football.

bronxblue

November 3rd, 2014 at 9:20 AM ^

I disagree.  You are hired to be the athletic director for the entire university.  Practically you are going to focus on your most prominent sports, but the coach's job is to not screw up the football team, not yours.  You are responsible for hiring him or finding a better replacement, but to say that Brandon should be measured based on his football failings is not a fair barometer.  I agree that the second part is the reason he had to go.

Hail-Storm

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:11 AM ^

is not in general ADs, but to Brandon specifically.  I believe he tied himself to the football wagon byt doing the following; Huge football ticket price hikes during his tenure, trying to change the game day experience a lot with advertising (through jumbotrons), flyovers, and lots and lots of rock music, attending film sessions with the coaches, changing policies for student section that were not popular before they took place and a disaster after. 

Most ADs should not be tied so closely to the football program, but this is an undoing he did himself. I agree that sticking with Beilein, staying out of Red's hair, and building better facilities should have been his legacy, but he wanted to be a major face of football as well and failed miserably. 

As an aside, I like GoT and Harry Potter and don't care for wrestling, but I also pay way to much attention to a bunch of guys trying to move a weird shaped ball into a rectangle while a bunch of guys try to do the same while wearing weird clothes so what do I know. 

OregonWolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 1:29 AM ^

I posted this on the earlier diary thread:

http://mgoblog.com/diaries/state-athletic-department-vs-program-vs-foot…

TL;DR:

Brandon did a good job of taking care of "his" team - coaches, athletes, donors, a segment of former players. He treated the rest of us as a "customer base" to be catered and condescended to. The natural net result is a fracturing of the M community along the lines of the Brandon insiders and outsiders. This is a toxic legacy of Brandon's tenure, and we should refuse to be defined by it - insiders and outsiders alike. A restoration of the big tent M community is what we're after.

bronxblue

November 3rd, 2014 at 9:54 AM ^

I'd love for the umbrella/tent to come back, but (a) I'm not sure if it ever really existed, and (b) college sports are such a big-ticket item that it is hard NOT to treat your fans as customers.  And to be fair, it works both ways; cool stuff like Beyonce at UTL and some of the other, more extravagent expenditures by the university are due to this commercialization.

OregonWolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:13 PM ^

I can see I missed much in my TL;DR.

Yes, the big umbrella is an artificial construct. But people want to buy into it, nonetheless. That's the way it felt to me when I was a student, back in (ahem) '78-'84. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you want the university leadership to make a strong pretense in any case.

And yes, fans are certainly customers. But they are quite special kinds of customers, with a deep kind of relationship to the provider. Buying a pizza or a movie ticket implies a very different kind of relationship than buying season football tickets. The former is a simple transaction, the latter implies an emotional bond with the university and the program. Brandon seems to have missed the difference, big time. Even his most recent response to student discontent - dropping the ticket prices without any other significant moves - indicates very transactional thinking. He's gone, but it's up to us and the department he left behind to fix his broken thinking.

westwardwolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 8:36 AM ^

I'll sum up Dave Brandon:

Dave Brandon rode the college football tidal wave and made the AD lots of money. It was nothing that he did, merely the circumstances of being around at this particular moment. The money he made he spent on all kinds of facilities and perks for a variety of sports. This is why the athletes and coaches of those sports support him: Because he gave them nice things. 

How anyone can view this as anything other than...well, one half of what an athletic director is supposed to do is beyond me. 

Its kind of like night games. Yes, UTL came during the Brandon tenure, but its not some sort of special insight that only Brandon could have possibly had. Night games have been popular everywhere around the country for years. Its not a genius move, its a "duh" move. 

Meanwhile, while things were going well for no reason other than thats what happens at big time college football programs, Dave Brandon shit on his fanbase so hard that a massive wait list dried up to almost nothing, attendance numbers became a running joke and ticket prices shot through the roof. He spent his weekends sending out emails a first year intern at any minor or major company would know not to send, tried to cover up Shane Morris' concussion and had a running number of gaffes such as the skywriting and 2 Tickets, One Coke. Throw in his open letter which basically said "If you were recruited by Rich Rodriguez, you don't matter" despite the Rodriguez players being pretty much the only reason Michigan has beaten Ohio State and MSU in the past 7 years. And that doesn't even get into hiring Brady Hoke as the head coach because he knew the words to "The Victors" and has a picture of himself standing next to Lloyd Carr. 

But more than anything: Just watch him in interviews. Listen to him. He's a douchebag. He thinks he's the smartest person in the room, when really he's just an asshole who doubles as an idiot. Why would you want this guy in charge of something you care about and enjoy? Why would you try and defend him when you know there are people out there doing as good or better of a job who are just overall better human beings? 

I don't really know why you feel the need to defend this guy. Maybe we all have that itch at times to be on the other side of things, standing alone against the the majority. It just seems foolish to do so in a case where its so obvious you are wrong. 

bronxblue

November 3rd, 2014 at 9:28 AM ^

We've had this argument before so I'm not going to get into it again with you, but I'll just say I disagree with the premise that everything good Dave Brandon did was obvious or were due to forces outside his control and he just rode them in, while most of his failures were due to his own screw-ups.  

If UTL was so obvious, why hadn't anyone done it before at UM.  Goss put a freaking halo around the stadium (that Martin then took down), but nobody figured out how to put lights up and play games around them?  Brandon deserves credit for making that happen where nobody else had.  RR never beat MSU or OSU, and Hoke beating 6-7 OSU probably was due to a bunch of factors, maybe one of which was having some RR recruits on his team.  And MSU was 2 years later and was an ugly FG-fest.

Anyway, all of your arguments are basically the same as mine; static facts wrapped up in our opinions so that they conform to our beliefs.  We both agree Dave Brandon needed to leave, but I just think he wasn't a train wreck at everything he does.  That doesn't make me a contrarion for its own sake; it makes me a human being who happens to disagree with you.  

charblue.

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:42 AM ^

and ironically one of his primary goals was to keep the attendance streak alive even while doing so many things to help end it. Most of his problems with the fanbase revolved around ticket pricing increases and marketing moves that failed to resonate or were just bad choices.

I don't think making Brandon a scoundrel achieves much, since his departure was primarily regarded by many as a bridge to a coaching change. However, this has been a nightmare football season, and most people are so disappointed, it's like everyone is collectively going through the motions. Brandon got his Wow season alright, only not the kind of wow he was hoping for.

westwardwolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 2:07 PM ^

Except you're just wrong and pretty much everything that went right was part of larger trends and everything that went wrong was his own screw-ups. 

There are plenty of ADs who would have figured out that a night game would have been a success. They would have been able to do so without being the total asshole that Dave Brandon is (do even acknowledge that?). 

You don't have any other arguments so there's not much else to say. 

You've taken this incredibly bizarre stand to defend a man whose helped destroy something you supposedly care about and I just don't understand it. At least the people who defend Hoke can fall back on the "he's a good guy" point. What you fall back on with Brandon is...well, nothing. 

Edit: Think about it: Night games are a popular all across the country. It doesn't take a genius to realize that they would be popular at Michigan. UTL is part of a larger trend. Spending money on facilities is just part of a larger trend. Every AD similar to Michigan is in an arms race to have the best of everything. Again, nothing he's done is something magical that someone else couldn't have done. And there's a good chance someone else could have done it without destroying the football program and alienating the fanbase. 

DarkWolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 8:37 AM ^

Nice Job-Appreciate Your Analysis
Would like your view on student attendance and game experience. These topics were used as some of the reasons why Brandon had to go by many on this blog. This included much talk about t shirts and boycotts. With Brandon gone, the students with season tickets should have shown up in force and those without tickets could get them on StubHub for under $20. On TV it looks like neither of these were improved. It would have been a strong message on Homecoming for the students to return. Perhaps SaddestTailgateEver will offer comments. It demonstrates that students will sign online petitions, but not vote with their feet/money. Sad.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

bronxblue

November 3rd, 2014 at 9:49 AM ^

I haven't been to a game in years, mostly due to me being hundreds of miles away and not having the time/timing to be in Michigan when games were being played.

I'm sure the experience isn't great, but I guess I never thought my gametime experience in the early 00's was fantastic either.  We just won more games than now, and for various reasons piped-in music and the like was lessened.  But I'm also nearly twice the age of your average freshman, so I'm not remotely aware of what matters or doesn't for people on gameday.  

I've always believed that students show up when you win and they stay home when you lose, and the reason why Michigan seemed to buck that trend is because they consistently won lots of games for 40+ years.  Now that Michigan is experiencing a dry-spell, we're just realizing that this fanbase isn't much different.

bronxblue

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:44 AM ^

Because I watch the games, keep on it via the various blogs, etc.  I have a sense of what students like because, well, it probably hasn't changed much in decades.  They want a cheap, fun afternoon, where they can cheer on a winning team while drinking a bit before and during, and get to take part in various traditions.  But I promise you that if you talked to "students" at UM, you wouldn't get a concensus on what they want from their gameday experience.

By this same logic, I presume you haven't been an athletic director at a major college before.  Why should I give a rat's ass about you (or anyone else's opinion) about how they are run?  

Last time I checked, fandom doesn't just apply to students at the University of Michigan.  You can be a fan and not be in those stands, as hard as it is for some people to believe.

You Only Live Twice

November 3rd, 2014 at 8:40 AM ^

Thanks for posting the diary with all you had going on, Bronx.  There are lots of opinions on the Brandon tenure, and you're right he did some good things for the U but he also gave the impression of being a giant tool which doesn't go along with the position and title.  He destroyed a lot relationships with the fanbase that Don Canham put in place, and although we on the outside have no way of knowing, the impression I have is that football coaches didn't exactly thrive under his leadership...  this doesn't take away from the good, a lot of rich people are not as generous with their money, example 2 million to Mott, kudos to him for that.  I'm just glad he is out of the coaches' hair now.   Even if, for the sake of argument, let's say it is completely untrue that he interfered.  Even if he didn't, the controversy - when it's the boss on the hot seat - does have effects on everyone else.  The parting of ways removes the distraction, and he doesn't need sympathy as he never has to worry about money.  Schlissel made it possible for him to leave with as much dignity as possible - and before the atmosphere got even more poisonous.

Indiana game, yes, not the most worthy opponent but we got to see both sides of the football show some development, less missed assignments - I hope they build on that.  Gardner escaped MSU without serious injury this time, and Hoke alluded to the fact that he is still recovering from injury, which makes a whole lot of sense. 

snarling wolverine

November 3rd, 2014 at 8:40 PM ^

He kept trumpeting "dynamic pricing" of tickets while outright lying about attendance figures,

Do we know for a fact that Michigan has lied about attendance? We use the same formula as everyone else in college football: tickets sold plus people with press/field passes. Have we been caught in a lie about this?

Bando Calrissian

November 3rd, 2014 at 10:46 PM ^

Better question: What proof do we have that we've ever told the truth about attendance figures?

Anyone who has ever been in that stadium in a rainstorm, snowstorm, full-scale sleet attack, etc. will tell you the numbers have always been full of shit. It's essentially a number they pull out of a hat. They can do that because of the "tickets sold" argument. And the bands and the concessions people and the press box folks. In our defense, that's how everyone does it. We just hang our hat on it more than most because we're stuck on keeping the streak alive.

Now, is there plausible deniability that there's always been 100k in the stadium? For all but 1988 Minnesota, 1995 Purdue, and maybe a game or two this season, absolutely. But being that there were over 3000 tickets unsold on StubHub last Saturday, untold numbers being scalped outside, unused student tickets, fleshed out by some large swaths of empty seats and reports of noticeably unfilled-yet-spread-out rows... You do the math. How many ways can you count to ~13,000?