MMB to Jerryworld Saga Explained

Submitted by Butterfield on August 23rd, 2012 at 8:39 PM

A whole lot of people gave DB gruff when it was announced this spring that the MMB would not be heading to Dallas for the Bama game - turns out it was the MMB that initiated the "situation" by renegging on their agreement to bus it down to Texas and play a series of concerts for alumni groups on the way.  The cost of the change was an additional 300k that wasn't budgeted, hard to blame Brandon for how he handled the situation (knowing full well that people would step in and make it happen).[email protected] 

I looked hard and couldn't find that this had already been posted, but if it has, my apologies. 



August 23rd, 2012 at 8:42 PM ^

As kind of a META thing, since the season is almost upon us anyways and reports get more frequent, just use the Google site search to check for the URL.  If someone posted the article, they included a link to the article so the site search would pull up the post.  Offer of course not valid on breaking news where one person linked to Yahoo and the other to ESPN.  


August 23rd, 2012 at 8:46 PM ^

I tried that before my post and nothing came up, which led me to believe it hadn't been posted.  But now I tried it again after my post and still no results come up - you'd think my post would trigger a result....maybe its a cookie issue. 


August 24th, 2012 at 10:09 AM ^

I love this site, and feel like a jerk for complaining about anything on it, but the search functionality is pretty awful. I've often wanted to find old posts on things and really struggled.

Also, because people get so worked up over people reposting things (which I tend to think is pretty lame), some improvement to the search would be much appreciated.


August 23rd, 2012 at 8:42 PM ^

I don't blame them... Driving by bus and have to stop and unload and load multiple times to make alumni happy? I lived in Arlington and visited my mother multiple times in Romulus and that drive isn't fun even just stopping to sleep and eat.


August 24th, 2012 at 8:11 AM ^

This is not a random message board post, this is an article from a major website directly quoting DB. If you're suggesting he flat out lied, what proof do you have. I'd love to hear the other side but so far all I've heard is innuendo.


August 24th, 2012 at 10:01 AM ^

That you're ready to just believe what DB has said. I actually happen to know Prof. Haithcock personally and have family members in nthe band now. I could find out their side but then its just someone reporting their side of the story. All I'm saying to you is this is a complex situation that can't just be changed without serious planning. It sounds like there was a miscommnication somewhere and DB is misinformed or isn't clear on the specifics. It's unfortunate that he chose to speaks publicly about this instead of keeping it in house. You should be savvy enough to know that maybe there's more to this situation than DB spews to the papers.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:18 PM ^

Come on MGoMinds, be reasonable. I'm sure Brandon isn't lying (maybe), but we only hear his perspective and it makes the band look like they're villains for daring to ask for a plane to travel to a neutral site almost-a-bowl-game. 

This isn't a full explanation, it's one side of a story. Boerma or Haithcock may have a different perspective on it all, that we don't have here. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. 



August 23rd, 2012 at 8:49 PM ^


As to the article, if Brandon has cash flow issues flying the band (you can even leave the guys who don't march at home for all I care) to a venue where we are making 4.2 million dollars, maybe he has no business being the AD.  The point of the neutral site game like this is national exposure, so you bring the damn band even if it does mean booking an entire jet.  No band just looks cheap and half ass, such it up and buy up the Southwest fun fares.  Sure it's not a bowl, but is the most (positive) national exposure we've had in five years beside the Sugar Bowl.  For all intents and purposes it is a regular season BCS Bowl.  

The fact we ended up trying to do this all on the cheap makes me wonder if we're really getting that money or if Jerry Jones managed to bury some fine print in the contract and swindle DB.  Getting so damn cheap over some band airfare is really odd.  Either that or things like Yost and Crisler rennovations are running over budget and DB is feeling the pinch.  


August 23rd, 2012 at 8:52 PM ^

I think it's a matter of what you have budgeted, just like any business.  The time for the band to request to fly down would have been when the budget was being made, not afterwards.  I can tell you if my department at work budgeted 100k for computer upgrades and decided we wanted to spend 200k, the finance department would laugh.  Universities work no differently than business. 


August 23rd, 2012 at 8:52 PM ^

Not bringing the band was lkikely never an option.  It played out exactly how they thought.  That being said, the 400k is not the only expense involved.  Things cost way more than you would think, so this game isn't a cash cow as the 4.2m figure suggests.

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2012 at 9:06 PM ^

This is, of course, DB's angle on the situation.  And, unfortunately, DB (and most fans) don't realize the dynamics of how the MMB makes their needs apparent in a situation like this.

There are very legitimate issues with asking the band to forego most of Band Week and put the performance block on a bus to Texas for a string of performances across several days.  Band Week serves not only to prepare for the first show, but put the performance block and show together for Week 2.   Band Week stretches from early this week through Labor Day, covering everything from getting incoming members acclimated to the MMB system and marching style to electing rank leaders to doing musical auditions to learning the pregame and halftime shows for the first game, as well as setting the performance block and building the foundation for the second game as well.

The game is on Saturday.  If memory serves, the block is set at the end of the previous weekend (this coming Sunday) and the rehearsals begin to put the both the pregame and halftime shows on the field on Monday.  In that game week, there are a number of things that happen aside from that, including a rather intense week on the reserve field getting those not in the block ready for challenges for week 2.  

Let's say the MMB needs to be on the road to Texas on, say, Tuesday.  And, remember, they're not taking the entire band, just the performance block and maybe a few more reserves.  The reserves stay home.  The full staff needs to travel with the band to manage the trip and game operations.  Who is left to manage the reserve field portion of Band Week if the entire staff is gone for most of the week?  How do you do challenges for week 2?  How do you prepare to be successful for the second game?

You fly the band, they can leave on, say, Friday morning, even Friday afternoon.  Heck, if you want to live dangerously, Saturday morning.  That means the band, and staff, has time to do their work, be at the game, and still maintain the standards of preparation and performance 110,000 fans take for granted the following week.  Not to mention getting them back and ready for rehearsals on Labor Day, not to mention classes on Tuesday.  

I don't pretend to know all the issues involved behind the scenes, but based on my experience in the band, it may make logical sense from the outside to say "well, they shouldn't have a problem doing this, it's our money, they should drop everything and take it."  But there are other considerations to be made.

Additionally, DB attempting to get the last word in the press about this, which in turn throws the MMB under the bus, is disingenuous to me.  Answer the question with a boilerplate "we figured out the issues involved and we're glad they're coming," and move on.  The blow-by-blow from his side of the conversation doesn't help the situation in the least.  


August 23rd, 2012 at 10:41 PM ^

Thats all well and good but from the way brandon puts it (and as far as i can tell he has never actually lied) the band agreed to something and then backed out which would have cost the AD more money.  Yeah sure the AD has the money for it, but maybe that extra 200k was budgeted for the lacrosse team or the soccer team to take a plane instead of a bus.  The AD budgets out everything, a sudden change that costs more then expected means something else is losing money they thought they had.  The situation, made DB look bad, just look at how this blog reacted, he is trying to show the AD isnt a bunch of penny pinching dicks, i dont see why getting the full story is throwing the mmb under the bus when the actions of the band threw the AD under the bus with who knows what consequences to other sports.

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:10 PM ^

I'm not going to speculate on what the real story is, but I will reiterate that this is DB's account of the story, from his side of the negotiations, based on his understanding of the situation as it unfolded.  From what little I've been able to glean from the MMB side of things (and they've remained relatively quiet), it seems there was an entirely different understanding on their part, and unfortunately, the reconciliation of that disparity got played out in the press.  

Again, I question why DB couldn't have just answered these questions with a boilerplate "it's been resolved, and we're looking forward to Dalls" instead of giving the blow-by-blow and opening up an organization of hardworking college kids to another round of scrutiny.  It's a public issue again.  And it didn't need to be.  

There was blame on both sides of the equation here.  It was a complicated situation, and one that could have been resolved behind the scenes.  


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:02 PM ^

I have several questions for you, Bando Calrissian:

  1. Do you believe that the MMB Director or powers that be agreed to the scenario that DB laid out? (i.e., bus trip with concerts on the way.)
  2. If yes, do you believe that the Director should be held responsible for accepting this scenario?
  3. Do you believe it should be the full responsibility of the Athletic Dept. to pay the cost for the band? Or should the MMB have some responsibility?
  4. Why didn't the band request a flight several years ago when the game was scheduled? Why did they wait until a could months before the game?
  5. If DB was asked a direct question about this yesterday, at the Detroit Economic Club, do you believe he was wrong in giving an answer, and that he would have been better off saying, "No comment?"

Of course, like all Michigan fans, I want the band down in Dallas. But I think there was some poor planning on their part, and that there should be more ownership for that piece of it. Your explanation of why it wouldn't be good to go makes some sense to me. However, in this case, I would have preferred the following scenario.

  1. Band week begins a week earlier. Yes, that is out of the norm. However, a neutral game site is also out of the norm. I can't think of a road trip like this to begin the season, at least in the last 30 years. Can you?
  2. The band heads down via bus. This is approximately 18 - 19 hours of drving time. They do several concerts on the way.
  3. The band goes to the game, and sleeps the night in a motel in Dallas.
  4. They fly home the next day, back in Ann Arbor by early afternoon.

In this scenario, concerts are done, the band gets "band week" practice completed, the cost is higher, but still lower than a round trip, and they have good PR with some alumni concerts.

I am responsible for a budget. I am not happy when requests come in after the fact, for much more than originally requested. I also feel that the MMB threw DB under the bus, by making this public, and not starting with flying.

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:35 PM ^

I am not going to needlessly speculate about any of this.  I'm years out from my time in the MMB.  I don't have connections to anyone which would make me know anything definitive about this, and I don't feel comfortable being put on the spot to give you definitive answers to some rather pointed (and slightly accusative) questions that would probably be better presented to parties directly involved.

1.  I don't know a definitive answer on this.  But, based on my experience, I would have a hard time believing a bus trip would have been readily agreed to as the best option for this trip.   If you want to know, email the MMB administration.  Just knowing how Band Week works, having experienced the logistics of MMB trips, and the way in which the MMB operates on a day-to-day basis, a bus trip of this nature would sound really good to people outside the organization, but really puts a hardship on everyone involved in undertaking it.  From students to staff to administration, it's a lot easier said than done.  

2.  I guess I don't see the point in answering this without knowing if it was agreed to.  

3.  It matters how the trip was originally pitched to the MMB.  I won't speculate, because I dont't know.  DB knows it's his word against the MMB's, and without being a fly on the wall in every single email, sitdown meeting, phone call, etc. over the years since this game was announced, it's impossible to say anything further than that.  And, it seems, DB's public statements, and the MMB's relative silence, are driving the narrative.

4.  Who says they didn't?  Again, it's hard to answer these questions without knowing the particulars of how the discussions went between the MMB and the AD, what was said, what was understood, and what pages each side were on when plans were being made.

5.  See my comments above.  There's no reason to go into detail about this.  The issue was resolved, with both sides essentially getting what they wanted.  What good does it do for DB to reopen the discussion?  

As for your scenario, keep in mind the people who run the MMB are professionals, who have decades of experience in managing large musical ensembles.  You have an idea from the outside on how this trip could be managed, and that's fine, but this is a complex ensemble in which the needs of hundreds of people are balanced against putting a product on the field which is seen by hundreds of thousands on a weekly basis.  There are a lot of complexities here, it's not a black-and-white thing.

I won't speculate further.  Like I said, this issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.  Leave it be, and enjoy the show in Dallas.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:40 PM ^

No idea why this got downvoted and collapsed, it is the best post on this thread. I would really like to get the answers from Bando or anyone else who might have them. 

To Bando: your explanation for the complexities of essentially skipping Band Week for a barnstorming tour to Texas is fine, but as SRK says above, couldn't an alternative been planned, I don't know, 2 years ago when the game was announced? Over last summer? How about immediately following the Sugar Bowl this year? Instead of [according to DB] launching a change at the last minute that throws everyone at the AD off? All your concerns are valid, but it seems like they all could have been handled with more advance planning.

I'm assuming the show in Dallas won't be a full show anyway because the MMB shares the stage with the Bama band, and it would surprise me if the show is just a reduced version of what they play the following week against Air Force.

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:52 PM ^

I'm not a spokesperson for the MMB.  If you want to know the blow-by-blow from their side of things, ask Professor Boerma or Professor Haithcock.  They have email accounts, and I know they are pretty good about responding to questions from the public when they are able to do so.

In the meantime, like I said, both sides got what they wanted.  The MMB will be in Dallas.  Dave Brandon saved some cash.  No matter what kind of miscommunication or misunderstanding there was along the way, it's over. It's just a shame the process by which all of this came to be had to be so public and confrontational, especially when it concerns some of the most vocal and energetic supporters of Michigan Football. 


August 24th, 2012 at 3:23 AM ^

would be very, very difficult to start a week earlier.  The freshman especially, but all MMB members that live in dorms already have to get special permission to move in earlier than most students, and nowadays they can only move in early in the day their first day of band week, when they used to get a day to settle in before band week started.  They also have to wait through a few days of practice before the cafeterias in the dorms open and pay for every meal that comes along in that time out of their own pocket.  To make band week happen a week earlier, you'd have to get housing to agree to let about 100 freshman move in early, across all the dorms and then say another 100ish other MMB members that live in dorms move into their rooms three days later.  And all of those members would have to pay for even more meals out of pocket.  And considering they're spending 9 hours a day running around a practice field, they should probably actually have meals and decent ones.  The band members in houses/apartments can eat up some other members for some days on couches and stuff, but to house everyone that needs it for a week would be ridiculous.  U-M housing would have to be on board with moving band week and I don't think they would ever do that.  But I gained a pretty low impression of U-M Housing when I was in undergrad, so maybe things have changed.

And from my knowledge of the band powers that be, I can't believe that would agree to a bus trip.  My guess would be DB said something generic about "We'll take you, but do you mind playing some concerts along the way?"  And the directors, thinking he meant pep rallys in and around Arlington said "Yah, sure, of course!" only to find out later that DB meant he wanted to bus the band with concerts on the way.  The MMB was probably only given the itinerary/full plan a few months ago, realized there was a communication error then and tried to fix it from there.  As for payment... The MMB gets some money from the School of Music and some from the AD, as I recall along with their donations.  The School of Music isn't going to give the band more money for a trip like this, unless somebody donates money directly for the trip to the MMB donations probably aren't changing that much, the members already pay some, so if the AD decides it wants the band there, then yes, it should pay for them to go...  Like they do for bowl games and like they did for the last big netural-site game in Yankee Stadium however many years ago. 

As for DB's comments, I've always been taught that it's pretty unprofessional and out of line to say obviously negative things, in an official capacity, about your worst enemy.  To throw your own supposed allies and friends under the bus...  There are a thousand ways to have answered that question without giving or taking blame and he decided to go ahead and shovel all of the blame on the MMB.


August 24th, 2012 at 8:26 AM ^

Where does it say in the article that the bussing scenario was agreed to by the Band?  This was DB's desire and plan.

The logistics of the original scenaro is far greater than simply showing up a week earlier - who pays for the students to live somewhere for an extra week?  Who pays for their meals for an extra week?  You can't have 350 people show up to a campus that is not ready for them.  Do you think UM Facilites would be happy to have this kind of change shoved down their throat so the Athletic Department can save a few dollars?

The performance is important to the band and they don't want to put on a half-ass show that they are not prepared for.  The football team wouldn't do it.


August 24th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Maybe Boerma/Haithcock said they're open to the idea but would have to look into it. That's not an agreement. From my impressions when this story originally broke out many months ago, they were open to the bus idea, but it wasn't set in stone.

Misunderstandings happen all the time. I doubt one side is 100% in the wrong here, and Brandon is making it sound like it's all the band's fault.



August 24th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

It seems to me that the band's advocates have been trashing Brandon in the press for months. This is the first I've heard of the bus option that was turned down etc.

Consequently, your suggestions that Brandon is being 'disingenuous' and 'throwing the band under the bus' fall flat with me.

The time for a rational discussion of the issues was before the demagogues branded Brandon as a tightwad that hated the band.

Brandon may be 'getting the last word' (although I doubt this is true because the band's advocates are everywhere and so touchy) but that is only because the band 'got the first word.'


August 23rd, 2012 at 9:17 PM ^

Here's where all that gratuitous marketing spin and double-talk backfires on you.  There are going to be times when you want people to believe your side of the story.  But it does not help your cause if they feel they can never believe anything you say.

I really want to belive DB on this story.  But I still don't.  He's earned my mistrust. 


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:45 PM ^

He almost didn't let some tuba player fly to Texas? This is what you are worried about??? Good god, some of you might as well start practicing saying "Down in Front" - because you are so backwards you will be there before you know it.

The band doesn't travel to stuff like this and so they decided - both parties apparently... that it wouldnt work. And now, because of a generous donor it does. Same as it happened 50 years ago. 

Without the internet DaveB would be ripping it up as AD.


August 23rd, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

I don't get how the cost quadrupled. Presumably, the bus trip would have required by only chartering a few buses but also a few days worth of accommodations. Compared to round trip airfare with no accommodations? I don't see 300k savings.

Feat of Clay

August 24th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

I wouldn't say "Suck it" particularly since it is possible to want the band there, and post about it, even if you didn't lay the fault at DB's feet.  

The bigger takeaway is that this is yet another reminder not to turn off our critical thinking skills the minute a news story hits a nerve.  We would be fools to think that the whole story was being told back when it broke.  We would also be fools to think the whole story is being told now.  Humans have a disturbing tendency to over-rely on accounts in the media to make judgments about things; sometimes the way it plays out is depressing if not sickening.  I'd like to think as Michigan fans & grads we're a little less likely to do that, but it still happens. 


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:34 PM ^

Wow. Not sure how much any of those quotes are taken out of context but DB sure seams bitter about it still. Forget trying to assign blame on this one, I expect someone in DB's position to be a little more professional than that in a public speaking situation.