Friday, August 22, 2014

It's always someone else's fault

I'm going to do a horrible thing to my fellow Michigan fans. I'm going to bring up The Horror. Not because the Rematch That Only an Idiot Would Schedule is a week away, but because of this article on The Dave Brandon, Creating the Future™ was kind enough to offer another litany of excuses about the expected sparse attendance at next week's soiree and, per usual, blame everyone and everything but the most obvious factors (i.e. those connected most closely to him.)

"The biggest shift was in the student section. There was a big decline in level of interest, and we've seen historically there's a lot of correlation between success the previous year, strength of schedule and level of excitement. And television does such a great job covering games that younger people are more comfortable getting content in digital fashion on a screen."

Yeah! Those damned kids these days! No responsibility. No tradition. No willingness to get kicked in the face and come back for more! I mean, really, Dave. It couldn't be because you've treated them like ATMs and are charging them the highest student ticket prices in the conference (the nation?) for a declining product and an awful home schedule, could it? No!

"But it's a one-year transitional situation. I don't like it any more than anyone does. It was not my idea to play at Michigan State two years in a row."
No, it wasn't. But it sure as shit was your idea to schedule Appalachian Fucking State. I mean, it probably seemed like a lark to you, didn't it, Dave? You'd roll in here, pick your genius successor to RR and, coming off the undoubted conference title and Rose Bowl win three years later, we'd exorcise the demons of debacles past.


No one really wanted to revisit that debacle except App. St. fans and MSU fans who still count that as their greatest sporting memory from their years at State. I can go out on a limb here and speculate that almost no Michigan fans wanted to be seeing the greatest upset in the history of the game every day on BTN for the next week. (I know that ESPN likes to claim that the Stanford upset over USC (JBC!) was somehow bigger because it was on their network and the spread was bigger, but there's only one team in college football history that has gone from a top 5 ranking in the polls to out of them in a single week and, uh, that's Michigan. Because they lost. To Appalachian State.)

"Combine that with what he expects will be a great year with young talent and you'll see a bigger response from the student section next year. At that point, he said, they want to make sure those tickets are available to them.

That, of course, puts pressure on Brady Hoke and this year's team to win at a high level."

Uh-huh. You see, I was at that game in 2007. I picked up a couple tickets for free because, well, there were a lot of them available, just like this year. No one wanted to see a game against App. St. then, when Michigan was coming off an 11-2 season with one of the most dominant defenses of recent memory (albeit with a season-ending duo of losses to both OSU (again) and USC in the Rose Bowl (again.)) Michigan was ranked in the top 5 with seniors aplenty, but there were gaps throughout the crowd from the opening kick to the miserable ending. So, as long as you're insisting that people's TVs are what's keeping them from attending games and not the ridiculous prices ($65 face for App. St. this week), you're likely to keep being mystified and blaming everyone else 3 or 4 years down the road, too.

"I've been able to get to a couple practices, and I can tell you the pace and the tone and tenor are different than what I've seen in the past. Everybody is extremely focused, understand this is a real important season we have ahead. There's a lot of disappointment people remember from last year, and we want to fix it. The best way is to achieve great things. I'm excited about the season and can't wait to get it started."

I've been to a practice, too, and I can say that it looked pretty much like every other practice I've seen over the past 40 years. Everybody spouts the same bullshit in between seasons that didn't end "successfully". They're always going to be "more aggressive", "more focused", and "more intense". The problem here is that they're also "more expensive" and the first game is against an opponent that most Michigan fans would like to forget about and which the rest of the football world simply deems forgettable. And no one scheduled them but you.

"I don't go into any season with any coach laying out standards by pulling a record out of the air. Too many things can happen over the course of the season in any one sport that create variables. We can't predict the future. My expectation is like anybody else's. We're going to play like Michigan plays football. We have a lot of great talent coming back on defense, a fun and exciting defense to watch, and it will be really interesting to see the work Doug Nussmeier is doing with the quarterback and offense, how we can clean up some things that led to last year's disappointment … we just want to see continuous improvement."

Funny, because what you're saying is indicative of why people aren't buying tickets this year. So, you don't have a guideline for Coach Dante's ("He's not even supposed to be here today!") success, but it sure is important to be more successful because, otherwise, people will gladly stay home and watch... their... TVs? Hey, if the team really is bad and/or the opponent really is unappealing, what makes you think that people are going to bother to watch the game on TV? "Continuous improvement"? Yeah, that's be great. Is that just within this season with the awful schedule or is that a brand-new philosophy that you coined right there in front of Balas, because looking back at the last three seasons under your hire, I see 11-2, 8-5, 7-6. Something doesn't seem right about those numbers...

"I like the recruiting pipelines, the quality of student athlete Brady and staff bring in to program. I like all the things I hear from players about growing, and believe the program is going in the right direction despite the second half disappointment. That' spilled milk. What we're focusing on is the future."

Dave Brandon, Creating the Future™.

Oh, and don't forget that part of the scheduling problem is that stadia might be used for other events.

Anybody getting married? Head to the App. St. game and be reminded 7 or 8 times where you can hold it...

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