Hypothetical for Michigan Students/Alum

Submitted by jb5O4 on January 21st, 2010 at 9:18 PM

So the origin of this topic is from an argument I had with a coworker a while back. This co worker is an LSU grad and was talking alot of shit about Michigan football. He asked me if I regretted having gone to Michigan instead of LSU because of the success of the football team. I wasn't even going to attempt to argue football with this guy (importance of tradition, rivalry, etc). Instead I posed the question: "If LSU did not have a football team would you have gone there?"

I would have. I did enjoy that both academics and sports are a source of school spirit. Anyone else want to chime in on this? If Michigan did not have a football team would you still have attended?



January 21st, 2010 at 9:25 PM ^

It is one of the preeminent public universities in the country. Attending the University is a privilege and an honor, regardless of sports. The answer you're looking for is, no question about it.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:24 PM ^

As a lifetime Michigan fan I always been used to good sports teams. I couldn't give you a completly honest answer becasue I don't know if I would be as excited about Michigan if I didn't grow up with them. Who knows without Michigan sports I may have been an MSU fan and would want to go there.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:25 PM ^

I hated football before I came to Michigan. In fact, I really wanted to go to culinary school and Michigan was the only school I applied to that wasn't culinary. I ended up going to Michigan and formed an obsession with Michigan football and basketball.

So quick answer is yes, and it turned out to be a great decision.


January 22nd, 2010 at 7:04 PM ^

I only got season tickets my freshman year because my brother was a senior at the time:

Brother: "Are you getting football tickets?"
Me: "No, I don't like football"
Brother: "Just get them, the football games are awesome"

It still took some time for football to grow on me because I even gave away a couple tickets for free my freshman year. Unfortunately, I didn't even go to the MSU game (sold my ticket for a good amount). However, I was sitting in my dorm room watching the game with a few friends. A couple doors down there were a few girls cheering for MSU the whole time, popping their heads into my room fairly often to rub it in our faces. Then came the comeback, and nothing felt better than to run into their room after we won and rub it in their face. I've never seen anyone more disappointed in my life, and it was absolutely GLORIOUS.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:30 PM ^

I am origninally from Michigan and have been a Michigan fan my entire life. I was given the opportunity to attend Michigan and another school (Ivy League) in my area. I was torn between the two and finally chose not to attend Michigan. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life.

What helped me make my decision is that I realized one day that if it wasnt for sports, my decision would not be difficult. I didn't want to go to UM because they have a good football team; I wanted to go there because I am such a huge fan of Michigan athletics. Once I realized how much sports was impacting my decision, I decided that I better choose the other school.

It was especially difficult when I recieved an order form to purchase season tickets. It broke my heart turning it down.


January 22nd, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

But to be honest, would I have had the same passion for the school from such an early age if I didn't have a football team to follow? Maybe when I got older and I could appreciate the school for the school, but there's a lot to be said for good sports teams helping to pull in kids from a young age before they care about academics.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:30 PM ^

I started out at Pepperdine, which for those who don't know is pretty much right on the beach in Malibu. Even though I do wonder what it would've been like to spend 4 years there, and even though it seems like nearly all UM athletics have been on a near-historic decline since my decision to transfer (came in a few days after the '05 Rose Bowl), no regrets here. Part of the decision was based on sports stuff, but part was the academics and part was the prospect of living in Ann Arbor.

Take it from a Coloradoan that has no geographical loyalty in the BCS conference debate: regardless of how the football teams do, the Big 10 is head-n-shoulders the best conference for college towns.

Hard Gay

January 21st, 2010 at 9:40 PM ^

I applied, enrolled, and woke up on September 1, 2007 being completely oblivious to the existence of a Michigan Athletic Department. By the end of that day, I had begun my downward spiral into madness.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^

Even though I grew up a Michigan sports fan, Michigan was the last school I applied to. I was pretty close to going to Michigan Tech. I knew I was going to major in engineering and I was thinking that I wanted a smaller school. However, as senior year started winding down, I started having serious second thoughts about going to a school up in the boonies.

I graduated in 1992 so Michigan was just coming off a 10-2 season with a loss to National Champ Washington in Rose Bowl and basketball was in the middle of the Fab Five freshmen season. It was a pretty exciting time to enroll and sports certainly influenced my decision to go to U of M over Tech. Thank God I graduated in 1992 and not 2010.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

I came from not caring about college sports in the slightest to being totally enamored with them. But if Michigan didn't have college athletics, I would have still attended in a heartbeat. It's Michigan.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

I fell for Michigan Football when I was five. I fell for the University of Michigan when I was in High School. Not sure how much the first influenced the second.

However, I do know, and you could tell your friend, that the only reason I would ever ever ever ever go to LSU would be solely based on football and saturday night games. Academics would play 0% in my decision to spend 4 years in Baton Rouge.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

Although, I can't really say athletics didn't at least alter my decision a little bit. I grew up watching them, and once I got older and realized that M had awesome academics also, I really didn't bother applying to many other places. Had I not been so emotionally involved with the football team, I may have looked around a little more.


January 21st, 2010 at 9:57 PM ^

with or without the athletic programs here. My love for the University is entrenched in my family roots at the school, the wonderful campus and how it blends in with the city, the academic prestige, and the gorgeous women!

...okay...so one of the above was a joke you can guess which haha.

Big Boutros

January 21st, 2010 at 10:00 PM ^

I love everything about Michigan and I know in my heart that I couldn't have gone anywhere else. I have often felt, especially in high school, that I've been socially defined by the University of Michigan, but never exclusively by its football program.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:02 PM ^

My mother went to Michigan and early on in life had pointed me Michigan's way, but I wasn't a diehard fan until I actually spent some time on campus. I'd say the sports, namely hockey and football were a major draw for me. My dad wanted me to a highly ranked school that focused mostly on academics and less on sports like he had done. I was primarily interested in schools like Michigan though that had both academics and some kind of sports program / social tradition.

I have some horrible memories of football, bit for each terrible moment I had in the stadium or swearing at my TV, I have ten great moments from tailgating, from people I randomly met at bars as we watched away games, etc. So I regret nothing. I wish we had more wins, but the culture of the sports is the key for me.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:09 PM ^

bought me season football tickets (freshmen year (2008)...) over my protests. Despite her having no allegiance, or really any positive reaction to Michigan (she's a small school type). I chose Michigan over the Ivy's because it was quite a bit cheaper for me (in-state) and still a great school academically and I just never felt comfortable during any of my visits. Neither football, nor any other sport, had any bearing on my decision. Then I started going to hockey games for lack of anything better to do and now I'm a pretty big fan of just about everything, but if they hadn't been good, I probably still wouldn't care about any of the teams here.

That being said, I think it's only fair to say that there are at least a few people I know here that maybe didn't COME here because of the football team, but only thought to even check Michigan out and learn about the academics because of the football team being such a national name.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:12 PM ^

I am a Michigan alum who chose Michigan for both athletics and academics. The 1969 OSU game had a big impact on deciding that I would go to Michigan and not Michigan Tech, where I probably could have played football.

I am now retired, living in Ann Arbor, where many of my neighbors are current or former professors or administrators. What is interesting to me is that my neighbors have no idea how important athletics are to many of their students, or how much impact athletic success has toward recruiting students. They are kind of embarrassed about the entire sports program, talk fondly about former President Duderstadt, who was pretty negative about college athletics, and are convinced that it is their professorial excellence that makes Michigan what it is.

Fortunately, Mary Sue Coleman "gets it." She understands the importance of athletic excellence as part of the overall mix.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:37 PM ^

This attitude always amazed me when I was a student and still amazes me as a staff member? What do these people think the students would do if we don't have football? Wake up at 9 am, nice and sober and say "Oh well, no sports, I'll just go read research papers all day. Hooray!"

I have friends from HS at UChicago (left the Big Ten / cancelled its sports due to them being a distraction) and all they do is smoke pot on Saturday. No sports mean the students just find an alternative method to blow off steam.


January 22nd, 2010 at 10:11 AM ^

I took a class taught by Duderstadt the last semester of undergrad and, although he was very much in favor of the privatization of the university, he spoke very highly of Bo and Lloyd and several other AD employees with whom he worked with on joint projects over his years at UofM.

One could assume that the privatization of the university could have some Northwestern-esque or even UofChicago-esque side effects with regards to athletics, but Duderstadt played football in college and even went so far as to say it defined who he was later in life.

Interesting that some staff think he is "against" college athletics.


January 22nd, 2010 at 11:01 AM ^

This class was actually before the affirmative action ban, so I'm not sure how that would've affected his views (most likely strengthened his case).

From the conversations we had on this topic, it was mostly related to the freedom (both with research and fiscally) that being a private institution would grant. It was in a time of cuts in state funding (that has only gotten worse) and I think he felt that our high-standing as a top-flight academic and research institution would compensate for the obvious increase in tuition that would follow.

He conceded that the probability of this happening was quite low, however, given the high percentage of in-state students who would be "priced-out" of the flagship state school.

Interesting debate nonetheless.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:16 PM ^

I would DEFINITELY still be right here if we didn't have the amazing football tradition we do. Shouldn't academics be a bigger deal than football, when choosing a school? Maybe it's different in the South...?

Most students at Michigan are here for the unparalleled educational experience. The fact that the University's student experience is rounded out with one of the most storied football programs of all time is just a bonus. (A huge, huge bonus.)


January 21st, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

I basically came down to looking at Michigan or Penn. I loved both schools, but growing up in Michigan and being pretty sure I was going to go to school beyond undergrad, cost became a huge factor. Michigan, for an in-state student, just made sense. Great education at a reasonable cost. Would I have gone to Michigan without the athletics, yeah, but the great thing about it is...I didn't have to make that choice. You can have the best of both!


January 21st, 2010 at 10:26 PM ^

I grew up loving college sports, but was not a Michigan fan until I decided to attend U-M (spring 2000). Since then, some of the schools I considered strongly have had great athletic success. Texas beat us in the Rose Bowl, and then for good measure beat USC (where I was a 2L at the time) to win a national championship. UNC has won two basketball national championships. The University of Virginia has a very pretty campus.

Still, I do not regret my decision for a second and neither should anyone else. On the academics/athletics spectrum, there is no greater university than "this Michigan of ours."

I certainly would not trade my ability to read for the chance to dance around a barrel of white lightning because a two loss team backed into a BCS championship at LSU.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:40 PM ^

The primary reason to choose a school is for the academics. You can root for your football team of choice regardless of where you go to school. Hell, I'm a die-hard Michigan fan attending Notre Dame. Obviously, some of my best memories of my undergrad days involve Michigan football game days, but the degree is INFINITELY more valuable in life.


January 21st, 2010 at 10:56 PM ^

I grew up in Michigan. I had very good grades and test scores coming out of high school, but my parents didn't make nearly enough money for me to consider going to an Ivy League or other top school out of state. That made UM an easy choice for me, since I could attend a first-rank college and pay in-state tuition.

Granted, this was in the early '90s and I realize college has gotten a lot more expensive since then. But at the time, a year's tuition at Michigan (in-state) was something like $12K. A year at Berkeley or U of Chicago or an Ivy League was twice or three times that. For kids like me, it was a no-brainer.


January 21st, 2010 at 11:02 PM ^

Yes to the hypothetical "If Michigan did not have a football team would you still have attended?" Although, come to think of it, I chose it over U Chicago so maybe I'm not being honest with myself...
Nope, made the right decision.
Michigan's an outstanding University that measures up to damn near anywhere. I would imagine you'd be hard pressed to find many folks regretting they chose Michigan.


January 21st, 2010 at 11:04 PM ^

I grew up in Michigan and always knew I was going to ole UM. In fact it was the only school I applied to. My aunt turned me onto the Marching Band Music and albums (vinyl back then boys)and then as an 8 year old in 65' I started listening to the football games on the radio. Later when Bo took over I was thrilled except when we'd lose what seemed like every big game cause some skinny legged kicker could not hit a 20 yd FG. I remember the games well, good ole Rick Leach and AC running all over the place in the late 70s. Since then I've been hooked where ever I go. I even worked in Baton Rouge, 5 miles from LSU for two years in the 80s, never wanted to go to a game, needed to find UM somewhere on Saturdays (when I was not working). Nowadays I live 8 miles from the Rosebowl and my 15 yr old son and I have had Season tickets to UCLA football for the past 6 years. Its not the Big House but close to the experience (its so strange to go to a game that is never sold out (with the exception of any home USC game) with empty seats all over and where 70000 is considered a good crowd. But since I live in generally sunny SOCAL (except this week with biblical amounts of rain) the Rosebowl experience will have to suffice.
I always have my radio or cell phone handy to check on Big Blue scores. Michigan w/o Football, never crossed my mind. That would be like saying a Republican can never win in Massachusetts (oh sorry, not a good example).


January 21st, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

My college experience would have been different (and possibly not quite as much fun), but I still love U-M and Ann Arbor, and that wouldn't have changed.

As for your coworker's question, that's just ridiculous. While I have great memories of individual games from when I was a student, what I really cherish is just the fall Saturday experience in general, making the walk to the stadium with a slight chill in the air, being part of the largest crowd in the country, and singing "The Victors" (and your LSU coworkers cannot claim with a straight face that their song is better). To be a part of the Michigan football experience - regardless of specific wins/losses - is just special.

Kalamazoo Blue

January 21st, 2010 at 11:07 PM ^

Fortunately M has the extremely rare combination of world-class academics and athletics so it was pretty much a no-brainer in the fall of 1981 when I got accepted. Didn't even apply anywhere else.

If the athletics didn't exist...probably would have ended up with the same decision. The academics are matched by a few others. But not by many large universities (my preference). But Ann Arbor is a great town. And the tuition is a relative bargain if you're in-state.

My final two choices would have been M and UW-Madison with the in-state tuition making M the clear choice.

Let me change the question: Where would you have ended up if Michigan didn't exist? I probably would have ended up at Wisconsin.


January 21st, 2010 at 11:20 PM ^

Must be a recent grad since LSU had an overall under .500 record for 90s. Michigan has had couple losing seasons but a losing decade is a joke.


January 21st, 2010 at 11:22 PM ^

your co-worker is merely a cog in the wheel of LSU sports. a vast majority of their fanbase is quite similar and to a degree unapologetic for it. for many LSU students, sports come first, academics second. part of that is the admissions requirements compared to UM and part of it is just the all-loving sports are god mentality of much of the South (Louisiana in particular). LSU and Florida fans will ride fans of ANY team not theirs simply because they can, with or without substance. hell, a bar turned pro-Indiana this past season simply because 12 people were cheering for UM. needless to say, we all became Alabama bandwagoners because of it but i digress.

i had been a part of UM hockey and watched a lot of UM football but never dedicated myself the way i did when i went there. my passion for UM sports has only increased since graduating and moving away from the state. i hope to return to UM for a PhD program in the fall and will bring this fandom into key plays and in the event players 'bring the wood.'

go blue!


January 22nd, 2010 at 12:43 AM ^

Hard to say if it's family ties (5 generations of UM grads), the football team, or Zingerman's, but in the end, it was pretty easy to choose Michigan over Penn and Stanford. The in-state tuition helped, too.


January 22nd, 2010 at 12:44 AM ^

Most definitely I would have attended.

I grew up literally swaddled in UM from birth: the Hospital saved my life.

I am one of the most passionate Michigan Alums out there, but even without sports teams, I would not be any less vociferous.

I've just always had this cosmic connection with the Maize and Blue, and nothing would change how proud I am of my wonderful University.