Defending Dave Brandon

Submitted by cypress on December 20th, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Downvotes be damned, here it comes anyway. Knowing full well what the opinion of this board is, and also being aware of how most fall at the feet of Brian Cook, I understand my position will likely be unpopular. Having said that, I feel very fortunate to have one of the best AD's in college sports at Michigan.

Dave Brandon is an AD who understands that his role is to make the university money, and he is one of the few who is honest enough to admit this. The results are in, and he is good at his job. Michigan is more profitable than ever, and I believe we can all see that the major revenue sports are in good hands, moving in a positive direction.

Speical I love them? No. However, I also understand that society is evolving, and kids today DO like special jerseys. What we may see as an insult to tradition, a younger generation (and especially the players) see it as something new and exciting. The point is, I will live with these type of things if it makes the university stronger as a whole, and Michigan continues to be one of the best and most profitable sports programs in the country. Brandon may not care what all the fans think, but he cares about Michigan, and I think Michigan is getting to the point where it will be stronger than ever before, due in part to his efforts.

I see all the Brandon snark on here and I realize it's trendy on this board to toe the line of grumbling and angst towards him, but I fall in the other category of being thankful we have an athletic director who is committed to making us stronger. Am I alone?



December 20th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

"(a) Brian doesn't like getting kicked in the balls, and he says so on this site, and (b) I don't like being kicked in the balls, then (c) I'm going to reference dong punches for all of eternity so everyone knows that I share this point of view"

There, I fixed it for you.

They only place that I see or hear people complaining about anything related to Dave Brandon is on MGoBlog. I think that many people have the same opinion about the jerseys as Brian but only complain about them non-stop because he won't let anything Dave Brandon does die. Example:

"Bellomy was a late flier taken by Hoke after the Process left him scant time to find a bunch of dudes."

That was almost 2 years ago and Brian won't stop complaining about it. So, now, everyone thinks the best form of conversation around these parts is to rip on Brandon non-stop (either that or link every negative happening in the world to Borges).

Honestly, I don't agree with how he worded it, but I definitely understand and agree with the sentiment of what he was trying to say.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^


They only place that I see or hear people complaining about anything related to Dave Brandon is on MGoBlog.

This seems to suggest the possibility of other sites where I could be spending my time -- even other sites that discuss Michigan football!  Say it ain't so, Dear Leader?


December 20th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

They only place that I see or hear people complaining about anything related to Dave Brandon is on MGoBlog.

This has not been my experience. If you frequent the Michigan blogosphere, there are complaints in many corners, as well as people in the real world.

As for "The Process," this is the first time I can recall it being mentioned in months. Brian also complained about Rodriguez' OL recruiting in the same piece, but you wouldn't call Brian a RichRod character assassin because of it.

As for the larger point, I don't hold my opinion about Dave Brandon because of Brian. I hold them because as a Michigan fan, Michigan alum, and overall worldly person of sound judgment, I feel confident in my ability to look at events and draw conclusions as to what I think. To suggest otherwise is a little insulting to me and everyone else here.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

You missed the point of what I was saying. I think people are capable of drawing their own opinions, they just choose to constantly complain about certain topics because that's what Brian complains about. Brian says what a lot of people are thinking but don't necessarily know how to put into words. Because of that, they repeat the things that he says non-stop. Others, like yourself, can verbalize their complaints just fine, so they don't fall into that category.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^


Brian says what a lot of people are thinking but don't necessarily know how to put into words.

Using the words of those more eloquent than themselves does not mean that one's opinions are any less genuine or less deeply held. I quote Lincoln, Sun Tsu, and Lloyd Christmas pretty often, but that doesn't mean my views are any less my own.

I feel like you're channeling  Bob Loblaw: why should YOU go to jail for a crime someone ELSE noticed?


December 20th, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

Well great, if the geniuses over at MLive or think the uniform changes are good, we should follow their lead.  Are you stupid?  The "people" on those websites act like a bunch of drunken monkeys which firecrackers strapped to their tails.  I can't understand a damn thing that they say and their IQs are probably equal to a highway speed limit. 

Those are the folks dumb  enough to buy the jerseys so they too can look like a bunch of 12 year olds on Halloween who wanted to be Michigan football players but their parents could only afford a K-Mart jersey so they wound up looking like second-tier English rugby participants.



December 20th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

How do you know? Has there been a poll? 

What you have seen is that when something new and controversial is introduced (and that happens a fair amount) a lot of people complain about it. Many complain about DB by name. That doesn't mean that the vast majority of the board hate him, just that they disagree with some of the things he does or with some of the directions the department is taking.

Based on what we know today, I would speculate that 95-98% of the board would say that they prefer Brandon to either of his two most recent predecessors. 

A lot of what you hear is the noise of people complaining about specific decisions. I don't like Uniformz and I don't like rock music in the stadium. I'm not pleased Brandon is going there. But I also think he's done a good job in some very important areas, and a financially strong athletic department is a department that can and will produce winning teams, which I care about. So my views on him are mixed.

The complainers are often the loudest, but that doesn't make them the majority. Use a little more nuance. Use language like, "I know that a number of people on this board disagree with many of the things Brandon has done, but..." instead of "the overwhelming majority hate him." And so on. 


December 20th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

Excellent.  I think that is part of the DB problem.  It's sometime less his message than how he delivers it.  "condescension and dismissiveness toward those who view things differently" is spot on.

I think if he did not sometimes appear to be a dick his message would be better received.  He strikes me as CEO who sometimes does not give a damm about his minions. 

blue in dc

December 20th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

It is unlikely that you'll ever agree with everything a person iin position of power does. Deciding whether you think someone involves weighing the bad and the good. For me, the good greatly outweighs the bad.

Frankly the evidence that he is doing a good job is that the complaints that seem to have so many up in arms are generally about little things. Some schools are cutting sports, we're adding them. Some schools are losing lots of games, we're winning lots of games. If the biggest thing to complain about is special jerseys, our athletic department is in good hands.

Football and basketball programs - trending up
Revenue - trending up
Performance in non revenue sports - trending up
Facilities - trending up

I have trouble arguing against those results.

James Burrill Angell

December 20th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

In all fairness he has done some things that were needed. I like the lights in the stadium and corresponding UTL games and like the long overdue renovations to Crisler. An alternate jersey every other year doesn't bug me and i like that he made the lacrosee teams varsity. It's the other stuff I don't like particularly that he's essentially failing in drawing the line between the tradition of Michigan football and the marketing of minor league baseball. I think the needle has truly fallen hard to the latter. I also think he's raising prices too damn hard (which sort of goes to the selling to the highest bidder). We're so deeply in the black there just isn't any reason to raise ticket prices/PsD's every single year when you're several million in the black yea after year. It's that CeO mentality and he need to draw that balance between keeping the Athletic Department on sound fiscal ground and making fans wince when they walk through the turnstiles because they know what it cost them.


December 20th, 2012 at 3:09 PM ^

Personally, one of the things I always liked best about Michigan Football in the old days was how the stadium was basically the same for everybody.  Yeah, you could get a little better view of the game if you had been around forever and had tickets on the 40, but there were no luxury suites, no club-level seating, etc.  When it rained, everyone got soaked.  When it was cold, everyone froze.  When it was 90 degrees, everyone was hot and miserable. 

All of that changed with the stadium "improvements" after the '07 season, and the old days are not coming back.  I just view Brandon as part of the new era of stratification; he is what he is.  He made millions selling shitty pizza, and it's thanks to his kind that one of these days I will probably no longer be able to suspend my contempt for all things corporate and just enjoy college football.  But hey, if the kids (supposedly) like it...


December 20th, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

"and it's thanks to his kind that one of these days I will probably no longer be able to suspend my contempt for all things corporate and just enjoy college football." This is the one argument I don't understand. People keep talking about how money has ruined college football, hasn't that happened to everything else in the world? Money plays a huge part in everything we enjoy today. If you take the attitude that money and corporations have ruined everything then you will find little enjoyment in life.  


December 20th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

Surely you must admit that there are some things money tends to cheapen or ruin altogether.  That's why I don't visit strip clubs, for instance.  Reasonable people can disagree on what those things are.  Personally, I find that money tends to cheapen and degrade scholastic athletics.  You don't have to agree with me--and it seems very few (or none) of the people with the power to make decisions in the area do. 

I highly recommend the book What Money Can't Buy by the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel.  It's a very good exploration of this idea, about how money and corporations have controversially invaded so many aspects of American society, and profoundly changed them (for better or for worse).  Here is a link to the Amazon page for it.


December 20th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^

Don't get me wrong, I agree that money cheapens college athletics and I don't like it. It's just the whole idea that money has ruined college athletics that I disagree with. Some of the stuff people bitch about (like uniforms) are really not a big deal.   


December 20th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

Here's the thing: Brandon has not removed from you the ability to be hot and miserable in early September, or cold and wet in late October. He (or rather, Bill Martin) has simply made it possible for some people with the resources available to enjoy attending a game without those things. If you would rather everybody be miserable, fine; but isn't that just resenting people who have it better than you? It's not like your experience is any worse.

In fact, it's actually better--the revenue from suites and such allow the Stadium to be improved in many ways that benefit everybody; it also allows Crisler to be improved in ways that benefit everybody. And, crucially, it allows the department to equip its teams to win. Paying assistants properly, for example.

In the average person's actual position, you can still go to a game, be miserably hot, and enjoy it--with better concessions, restrooms, and a better team on the field. The alternative is to make sure that everybody is equally miserable, and more miserable because the team is worse. Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.



December 20th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

That is a fair point.  But I think there are a couple different responses.

First, the stratification of the seating arrangements--together with the massive increases in ticket prices--has resulted in a situation where tickets are distributed based more on who has money, rather than on who are the most devoted, loyal fans.  That's one problem, and one that is probably going to worsen.

Second, I think the changes materially change the nature of the event.  I can recall several threads on this site involving people who attended the 5-0 Purdue game in 1996.  Everyone who was at that game remembers how crazy the weather was, because at that time anyone who was at the game had to experience it.  There was a certain sense of camraderie among the people in the stands that day, which I think lingers even now.  Today, there are people who can attend games without having to brave the cold, the rain, the heat, or whatever.   If that 5-0 game happened next season, I think the feeling in the stadium would be different--and probably for the worse.


December 20th, 2012 at 3:58 PM ^

The sheltered experience of 2000 people changes the experience of the 106,000 who are still enjoying the weather in the bowl? I'm not buying that. 

Regarding the most loyal, devoted fans, I presume you mean the older alums who had the most seniority. They are loyal and devoted, but they are the same people a lot of people gripe about for not standing up at the most exciting moments, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people saw the change as an improvement. I'm indifferent about it. But I do think that seats that are more valuable should cost more if the market allows it.

There's an inherent prejudice that people who spend large amounts of money on seats are less loyal or devoted than the regular guy-on-the-street who bleeds maize and blue. It's certainly possible for that to happen, but many of them (who are otherwise called "boosters") are not only loyal fans but also willing to give to the university anyway. To turn it on its head, let's suppose that at least one suite belongs not to Ford or Domino's but to some well-to-do lifelong Michigan fan who has a hard time dealing with the step and the weather but still wants to see Michigan football with his family, as he has done for so many years, and the best way to do so is in a sheltered space? He isn't taking the seats of the students or loyal fans elsewhere. He just gets to take off his jacket without it gettng stepped on or lost. Is that bad?

Anyways, whether it's good or not, it is the way of the 21st century, and no competitive college football program is doing it any differently. You either maintain the same unified experience with a worse program, or maintain a program with a stratified experience.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

Yes, having 2,000 filthy-rich people watch the game in luxury, while the 106,000 hoi polloi stand outside in the rain or the heat or whatever does fundamentally change the experience, IMO.  The message it sends is, "money talks."  You are correct that that is "the way of the 21st century," but the whole reason I have always preferred college sports in the first place is that they aren't supposed to be just about the money.  And that goes back to my original point--the more that money conspicuously dominates college sports, the less I will be able to look past those things and remember that most of the players on the field are out there because they want to represent the state I grew up in and the school I attended--and not because of some profane pecuniary motive.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:25 PM ^

Fair enough, but wealth is the elephant in the room.  The ugly uniforms and RAWK music are not very important to me.  What is important is who gets to be in the stadium, and on what terms.  DB represents the view that people with the most money get to be in the stadium, and those with the most money should get the best experience.  I think the experience should be available to all, and more-or-less the same for everyone.  I respect the views of those who disagree with me, and I acknowledge the economic challenges that my preference would present.  But I just think some things are worth not-paying-for.


December 20th, 2012 at 4:46 PM ^

...silly. When I attend games, my focus is on the field and the people I'm at the game with, not the towers. I sometimes glance at them, but I can't say I've had even a fleeting thought concerning the denizens of the suites and club suites.

And there absoultely are (relatively) economic ways to watch games in person at Michigan Stadium. The secondary market (official and non-official) are always there and they almost always require the PSL holder to forego that portion of the cost of the ticket when reselling.

If you think the stadium experience was better when we were standing in endless lines to take a leak and had no access to instant replay and out of town scores, then you're living in the past. Wake up, man.


December 20th, 2012 at 5:06 PM ^

The point is that Michigan Football is supposed to be a public good, not a luxury item available to the highest bidder.  Yes, you can still buy tickets from scalpers and sites like StubHub and whatnot, but the above discussion was about what Michigan Football means and represents--not mundane considerations like how long you have to wait in line to pee.  Having a stratified stadium environment sends the message that some fans are more equal than others.  I realize my views are in the minority around here (I already admitted I don't go to strip clubs), but if you are going to call me silly then I get to remind you that ignorance is bliss.


December 20th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

...ever thus. That's what makes your point silly. What is this ignorance I am being accused of that is making me so wrongly blissful, o wise one?

p.s., If you think that the ability to pee and get back to your seat in time to see the game is mundane, then we're really talking past each other. I'm all about maximizing my time in bowl (the stadium bowl, that is).

p.p.s., I am with you on the strip club issue, though. Skeezy and manipulated is no way to go through life.


December 20th, 2012 at 5:42 PM ^

Well, I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with you, 'Shoe, as I've been reading your posts for some time and have always respected your opinion.  So, I don't think you are ignorant and would prefer not to dwell on that portion of my previous comment.

That said, if you feel that UM Stadium has always been a stratified environment and I don't, then I guess we'd be arguing facts and that's kind of pointless.  But there's at least a difference in terms of degree.  Giving somebody a better seat in Section 1 because they can pay, versus somebody in the end zone who can't, is still a form of stratification, I must concede.  Yet at least everybody is still in the same bowl; the divisions are not so clear, nor are the reasons.  When you build luxury boxes and physical walls, however, then it's pretty clear who's the cream and who's the chaff.  Maybe you don't mind being told that you are chaff (or maybe you have a seat in the cream section, I don't know), but I don't care for it myself.

I mean, did you ever see a game in the bleachers at the old Tiger Stadium?  They had a separate entrance, and the rest of the stadium was inaccessible to the "bleacher bums."  You kind of felt like cattle going in and out.  UM Stadium obviously hasn't gotten to that point, but the dynamic is the same.  The difference, of course, is that pro sports are concededly all about money. 


December 21st, 2012 at 10:05 AM ^ argue with me, I just don't like being told that I'm blissfully ignorant. I like to think that I reach my conclusions based on a review of as much information as possible.

To my ever thus comment, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend you read The Big House: Fielding H. Yost and the building of Michigan Stadium. In it, Soderstrom outlines the constant balancing act Yost had to perform to satisfy the three major Ferry Field ticket constituencies (students, alumni, and state of Michigan residents). His decision to pursue Michigan Stadium and his vision to make it expandable to its current dimensions and beyond were based on his perception that multiple constituencies should be accommodated. In addition, Yost was adamant that students should benefit from the football program revenue stream so he pushed hard for IM facilities. You can liken that sometimes controversial stance with DAB's emphasis on support of non-revenue sports. So issues of access and the role that the football program plays in funding things beyond itself have always been on the AD's agenda and it's no different for DAB.

And yes, I did have the pleasure of watching a few games duing the 1985 season from Tiger Stadium's center field bleachers. Again, I didn't get the feeling then that those fans received a substandard experience. Clearly it's a difference between the two of us, but I just don't get worked up that some people can afford to watch the games from luxury boxes and I can't. I cherish my in bowl experience.

Doc Brown

December 20th, 2012 at 8:03 PM ^

You lost me at this line,

The point is that Michigan Football is supposed to be a public good, not a luxury item available to the highest bidder.

When was Michigan football ever a public good? It is a form of entertainment, marketing, and athletic performance for the 82 Michigan student athletes on the sideline. 


December 20th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

Solution to inequity at Michigan stadium:

  1. Raise state income tax.
  2. Expand the stadium to 10 million, the approximate population of the state.
  3. Develop statewide shuttle program to facilitate the movement of up to 10 million people to and from Michigan Stadium on gamedays.  Some people don't have the means to transport themselves. 
  4. Allow anyone with a state issued ID card or drivers license or other proof of residency into the games, no tickets required.
  5. Ensure concessions offer meals to suit all known religious and other cultural groups.
  6. Accept Bridgecard at all concessions.

Pretty sure that's the only way to be make the experience available to all - because even if tickets were 5 bucks and you were required to sit on adobe bricks, a large segment of the population wouldn't be able to afford it. 


December 20th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

I suppose I should have clarified that, by "all," I didn't mean the entire population of Michigan.  I meant something more along the lines of "reasonably accessible to anyone who wishes to participate, irrespective of income level."

I guess it comes down to this. As I see it, an athetic program at a public university is a public good, like a park or clean air.  It shoudl be more-or-less equally accessible to all, and is intrinsically diminished if it isn't.  But lots of other people think of Michigan Football as a more of a commodity, to be marketed and sold for top-dollar. 


December 20th, 2012 at 6:01 PM ^

That's fair.  Even though I see the program as more of a commodity, your similes are good ones and help frame the debate a bit better than it had been. 

The problem with viewing it as a public park, in my opinion, is that there isn't enough room in the park, or stadium in this case,  to let "anyone who wishes to participate irrespective of income level" in.  I would have loved to go to games before I was a student, but I couldn't afford it (pre-1996) unless my dad got hooked up with tickets.  So even then, as a middle class kid, Michigan football was a commodity I couldn't afford.  Has the affordibility decreased even further - perhaps, it's likely - but Michigan Stadium has never been accessible to all in my lifetime. 


December 20th, 2012 at 8:32 PM ^

on the occasion of a holiday in the near past, I found myself in line at Edible Arrangements. In front of me were two women, iPhones and Bridge Cards in hand. They bought a total of $600 worth of fruit. It is little wonder that they can't afford a football game.


December 20th, 2012 at 9:39 PM ^

Is more people would have watched the game and cheered for the home team.

People in the boxes don't want to be in the elements. If they wanted to, they could afford seats there. Those same people in the bowl were among the tens of thousands who left VERY early, or didn't show up at all.

In fact, moving up the "rich" to the towers actually opens up more seats in the cheaper bowl so more of the masses have a chance to get in. I'm not sure when it was different. 20 years ago when you went to apply for tickets they said don't request seats between the tens. Everyone knew it was because you had to be ponying up money to get them.

The more you post the more it just sounds like you are jealous and resentful.


December 20th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

It's just a matter of perspective. With our football team on the right trajectory, basketball/other sports doing well, great facility renovations, the uniformz debate is rather trivial. Brandon is bringing UM lots of $$$ and that's fine.

It's pretty darn good to be a Michigan Wolverine now. I wasn't so optimistic four years ago.

Perkis-Size Me

December 20th, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

I have zero MAJOR issues with Brandon. His job is to make our university a shit ton of money. And he is excelling at that. So it's hard for me to dislike him.

I have had some issues with some of the uniforms, but that was mostly because I thought they were hideous. I thought doing away with the Maize pants during last years MSU game was a poor choice, while I thought the Alabama bumblebee uniforms were atrocious. When it comes to sacred concepts like the Michigan uniform, I'm much more on the traditionalist side, since our regular uniforms are classic and timeless. But I understand that this is a new age, and kids like the idea of alternate uniforms. Michigan has to adapt with the times. I just don't want us to turn into Oregon and have the traditional uniforms start fading away.

Just don't screw with the helmets, DB.

James Burrill Angell

December 20th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

Again, he doesn't make the University money. Athletic dept funds are kept over there. It's not like anyone outside the student-athletes benefits from DB's exploits financially though we all enjoy going to games and rooting for our team. So take that off the table. In fact he's taking quite a bit of criticism from those north of Hill St for really cutting access to athletics for the academic side people. He also tries to boost academic side people and even alumni association clubs to pay more fees to use their facilities.


December 20th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

I don't agree with everything he does (yellow jersey numbers?!), but with college sports becoming so much like Wall Street, I'm glad to have that steely-eyed son of a gun at the helm.  Past Michigan ADs would get eaten alive in this environment. 


December 20th, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

Hes done a Fantastic I agree with everything? NO? the unis and the lets not take the band to Dallas Fiasco not withstanding his overall performance has been Very good,,,Michigan is a top 20 team in almost every sport , money is flowing in, the Brand is one of THE most recognizable college brands in the nation ..what more do you want?