CC:Comments from an Assistant AD that probably don't mean anything...but...

Submitted by ReegsShannon on November 10th, 2014 at 4:44 PM

I'm a current student at U of M who's taking CLCIV 371. Basically a class about the history of sport primarily focused around the Greeks but making connections with modern athletics and the structures surrounding them. We've had a variety of assistant ADs and UM coaches come in as guest speakers (Brandon and Beilein were both scheduled to speak but were canceled due to firing and a meeting resulting from the firing. Ironically, Brandon's lecture was supposed to be on integrity in sports). Today was David Ablauf, associate AD of communications (basically the PR guy). During the course of the lecture he started talking about Harbaugh's comments about the General studies degree (on his own, no question was asked about it. He had to go out of his way) and then took a shot at Harbaugh saying that 40% of the players on his Stanford teams took the equivalent degree (supposedly) and he seemed overall kind of petty and mad about it.

So, just thought I'd share. I was slightly worried that might mean people are pissed at Jim in the department. But obviously it could be nothing.

Mod edit: I'm publishing MichAero's comment as an addendum to the OP. If ReegsShannon wants to make an additional comment that's fine too but I don't want another perspective to get buried after a hundred plus comments. JGB.

I am also in CLCIV 371 and you are leaving a large part of the context out.

I could be wrong, but I believe he was responding to a question about how much credibility should be given to reports that come out of social media, or some related question. Regardless, I'm almost positive this was during the Q&A session after his main lecture.

He began by bringing up the Harbaugh comments, but then went into how Pat Forde wrote an article about what Harbaugh had said. Forde wrote the entire article and then called Ablauf for comments, but Ablauf wasn't available at the time so it went to voicemail. Ablauf then called Forde back and began asking him about what he wanted to write about while at the same time researching what Forde was telling him. While on the phone, Ablauf found the article that Forde had written already published, even though Forde was telling Ablauf that he wasn't sure when his deadline was, etc. Basically, according to Ablauf, Forde wanted to be able to say he reached out to UM for comment before he published the story. Then he told us about how if Forde, or these other journalists, would have looked into the situation further, they would discover that this isn't anything new or something that nearly every school is doing, including Stanford (at 40% of their players).

This was part of a larger point he was making during his lecture about how media has changed. There is much less "work" done by the reporters today due to the culture that is the 24/7 newscycle. The goal is to be the first with a story, or write something that will generate clicks, regardless of how trivial a story might be.

In my opinion, he was more upset with Forde and the new form of media here than he was upset with Harbaugh.



November 10th, 2014 at 6:02 PM ^

There may be some nice people in the department, but apparently there are some people who are so adverse to doing what's best for the football team and athletic department they would rather see the football team stagnate for a decade. These people are assholes, and i doubt they show that side to the general public. (For reference see: Rodriguez, Rich and his acceptance into the athletic department)



East German Judge

November 10th, 2014 at 10:25 PM ^

You are so right, this is the problem we had when Llyod "The Snake" Carr was in the AD after his firing, err sorry resignation and all the silent back stabbing that he did to RR.  Another poster was correct, fire them all, we need to have people "All-In" for Michigan, not what their selfish, narrow view of what Michigan is.


November 10th, 2014 at 6:23 PM ^

But I will say this, if the PR guy is talking down a potential target for hire in front of students I would seriously question his ability to continue in his position with the University.  He is not paid to have opinions on such matters and he definitely is not paid to express those opinions to subordinates.

BTW, people are replaceable, it's done every day.


November 10th, 2014 at 7:56 PM ^

Read the rest of the context that got added in and see if you still feel that way.  Dave Ablauf is very good at his job, is well respected by a lot of bloggers and radio guys, and the times I've met him has been very good about listening to disgruntled fans while giving his side of the story. 

I figured there had to be more to the story than was originally presented and it seems there is.  In any case, frustration with the Athletic department shouldn't be extending to one of the few people still in it with any institutional memory.


November 10th, 2014 at 5:41 PM ^

Did any of the students ask Mr. Aublaf what his role in messaging related to the Gibbons situation?  Or concussiongate? 

I'd love to hear his answer.  He is, after all, the Athletic Department's resident expert on messaging, propaganda, etc. 

In my book, Mr. Aublaf is doing no better job at messaging than the collegiate coach whom he openly despises.  

Typical propagandist. 



November 10th, 2014 at 7:59 PM ^

First of all, he was working under DB, so his job description probably didn't include accusing DB of evading responsibility or shifting blame from himself. He might have thought it, but as an employee of DB, that wasn't in his province.  If anything, that is a difficult position to be in. Blaming him for putting out DB's statement at 1 AM is probably giving him more credit/blame than he is due.

I get the feeling that many here are hearing David Ablauf's name for the first time, and reacting to his comments in front of a classroom as if they were an interview with the NYT.

As far as the "openly despises," I suspect that might be a response triggered simply by the OP above. I would hope for folks to have a much greater appetite for further information before arriving at such sweeping assessments, especially in the case of someone who has been at it here as long as Ablauf.

I have the feeling that this bad-mouthing and up-voting of bad-mouthing is all a part of the fever-dream that goes along with any band-wagon effect. Band-wagon effect is fine, but it leads people to say things they regret later.

My M-fandom took as big a hit from the wretched performance of the AD in the RR years as anyone, but I for one would hesitate before dumping odure on the name of someone like Ablauf absent overwhelming evidence, and certainly not in response to something like a single board post.


November 10th, 2014 at 5:33 PM ^

MGoPodcast Segment 2:

[Cue the Music - Ahead by a Century - The Tragically Hip]

Brian: "Hey everybody, we're over here at my house and I've kept open an extra spot on the sofa.

Ace: "Hey, this chair is uncomfortable".

Brian: "Big feature coming up, momentarily. This week, JamieMac's look around the B1G will be pre-empted by a special Athletic Department announcement. 

Ace: "It's happening".

[Cue the Music - The Future Freaks Me Out - Motion City Soundtrack]

Brian: "Okay, we're back and joining me on the sofa is new Michigan Athletic Director Brad Bates former citizen of beautiful Port Huron, Michigan. Former walk-on and scholarship winning athlete under Bo Schembechler. Former Athletic Director at Boston College, Miami University and Senior Associate Athletic Director at Vanderbilt."

Ace: "Welcome new Athletic Director".

Brad Bates: "Thanks, this was the only place I knew I could credibly make this announcement. By the way, Brian, these brownies are delicious"

Brian: "Thanks Brad; I got some craft brew also.

Brad Bates: "I'm excited to work with the entire Michigan community but foremost the MGoBlog Community; particularly after that guy something Devotee outed Dave Brandon's emails".

Ace: "Respect".

Brian: "Okay, everyone, next we move to JamieMac's look around the B1G. Brad, thanks for coming and good luck in the new job. Around here we're really looking for Harbaugh...don't even think about Addazio".

Brad Bates: [sheepishly]: "Thanks".

[Cue the Music - Understanding in a Car Crash - Thursday]



November 10th, 2014 at 5:32 PM ^

I do, but that isn't why I say that. I know other in the department and my praise wouldn't be so effusive.

But its not just me. Dave Ablauf is highly respected by his peers across the country. If anyone has the opportunity to ask around about him, I think you would find that a lot of people agree with me.

gustave ferbert

November 10th, 2014 at 9:47 PM ^

let me ask an honest question.  Is there merit to the idea that there is a great deal of animosity harbored towards Jim Harbaugh within the department?  Or at the very least a faction exists where they do NOT want him to be Head Coach of the football team?

I'm not even trying to be combative.  I just hear a bunch of double talk and I would like to know someone's opinion that has connections. . .


November 10th, 2014 at 10:53 PM ^

I know just a handful of people. I am not particularly close with any of them. I hate to mislead anyone. I'm not plugged in in any real way. I don't know what most of them think about stuff like that, but I do know what sort of people they are, how they work, and so on.

That said, I've never had a conversation with anyone in the AD about Harbaugh. I would imagine that some of the old-timers would have a problem with him, though. He basically trashed the academic support staff's life's work.

Ironically, the changes that Brandon made -- getting rid of some old-timers and bringing in a lot of new corporate people -- might actually make the department more open to Harbaugh.


November 10th, 2014 at 5:36 PM ^

For sure. Ablauf shouldn't be above criticism for this, but he shouldn't be fired either, like the guy suggested.

Just like Harbaugh should have never said anything about M's academic support. Smart, capable people do dumb shit sometimes.


November 10th, 2014 at 6:56 PM ^

I'm not sure. I'm not even sure what his day to day duties are. I do know that he is well-respected by his peers. That has to count for something, no?

If he is fired for his performance in the past 18 months, that's fine. That is a lot different saying that he should be fired for criticizing one stupid thing that Harbaugh said that we all agreed was stupid until yesterday.

Punish him in some way for opening his mouth. But fire a respected PR man because we are worried Harbaugh will read this post and be upset? Come on, man.


November 10th, 2014 at 6:37 PM ^

First, Harbaugh wasn't hired at Stanford to put Michigan in the best light.  Second, I understand that Harbaugh was asked a question by a report and he answered.  He answered it to put his employer in the best light compared to his own experience elsewhere.  Third, this Q&A happened AFTER UofM told him not no, but hell no we don't want you.  

At that point I imagine he believed all professional bridges had long been burned between himself and Michigan.  Michigan is now in a position of dire need, time for Michigan, to include the big mouth PR guy, to suck it up and shut up.


November 10th, 2014 at 8:18 PM ^

your employer in a good light without trashing someone else.

"Hell no we don't want you" -- the remarks were made the summer before CC '07 -- are you talking about some job other than HC?

Reactions here ran pretty hot at the time.

Mob psychology goes one way, then the other.

I hope we get the right guy, including if it's Harbaugh. But I hope we can do it without yet another MgoBoard re-enactment of the Bamberg witchcraft trials of 1627.


November 10th, 2014 at 9:22 PM ^

When Stan Parrish left for Tampa Bay and Terry Malone was elevated from OL to OC Harbaugh applied for the QB coach position.  That's when he was told hell no.

BTW, I lived in Bamberg for over 10 years.  They don't talk much about such things.  Although they do go on about their history as the Pope's summer home and Bier.  Lots of beer.


November 11th, 2014 at 2:23 AM ^

I would spring a Bamberg reference on a former Bamberger? I could have used Salem 1692, but that was really a minor event compared to events in the Old World back then. Plus, Bamberg is more obscure to modern audiences (to me, obscurity is a plus).

Seine lange erfahrung interessiert mich sehr.

I regret seeing Ablauf's name (de.: "run of events?") in a context like this one because he really has been an institutional voice of balance, sanity and reassuring authority for a long time, including flattering comments about MgoBlog back in 2011.

I always fear the Terror that seems to come after every revolution.