Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Week In People Complaining About Dave Brandon

Brian at MGoBlog linked to this piece from the Daily on Dave Brandon yesterday, a thing titled "Just Call Him Dave Brand-It".

I just don't understand people. Am I crazy to think that Dave Brandon, on a macroscopic level, has been a very good AD? Scoreboards, Big Chill, UTL, Brady Hoke, increased pay for coordinators in line with other big name programs, facility improvement, the lacrosse program's jump from club status to Division I, attempting to address student apathy (re: athletics attendance) etc. I mean, my goodness: are you not entertained? 

Of course, people on the Internet ignore these things, instead focusing on by and large cosmetic things and slippery slope-based complaints. It's almost as if people like to complain about minor things (yes, JERSEYS, fergodsakes), as well as things that haven't even happened yet...oh wait, that is exactly what people are doing.

My question is: how representative of the fanbase are these sorts of fans? I honestly have no idea. As much as I love MGoBlog and the Michigan blogosphere as a whole, these places can be somewhat of an echo chamber. I suspect that the people claiming to speak for the fanbase as a whole when defending Michigan's inviolable traditions do not actually represent as many folks as they think they do.

As for the article itself:
From the man that brought you the 5-5-5 deal and excessively honest advertising at a mediocre pizza chain comes the Michigan Football Legends patches, gaudy new uniforms and athletic events marketed like Broadway shows.
I will admit that I find the current advertising efforts at Domino's to be more than a little eye roll-worthy, Rothschild is complaining about cheap pizza and advertising that is honest in nature. That is all you need to know right there vis-a-vis the psychological perspective of the anti-DB subset of the fanbase.

The following is not meant as a wholesale endorsement of John U. Bacon's Three and Out by any means, but this sort of reminds me of the passage in that book in which Rosenberg's immediate and visceral distaste for RR is described. Rosenberg, when running into Jim Brandstatter in the parking lot after RR's first press conference, said (p. 84): "I don't like that guy. I don't think he belongs here."


More fun times:
It seems that more and more, Brandon is making a deal with the devil — earning millions more dollars for the Athletic Department at the expense of the vaunted tradition of Michigan athletics.
Last year’s night game between the Wolverines and Notre Dame wasn’t just Michigan’s first home night game. No, that wouldn’t be enough. It was: Under The Lights. Oooh. Ahhh.
And 2010’s outdoor hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State couldn’t have just been Michigan Stadium’s first outdoor hockey game. No, it was The Big Chill at The Big House — presented by Arby’s. Golf applause. 
Pointless, trivial, semantic, wrong, etc. You get the idea. The rest of the piece follows as such.

I would say that I'm sorry, but, really, I'm not: the mindless distaste for Brandon's doings, no matter what they are, is really not that different from Rosenberg's distaste for RR. They're both marked by irrationality and a sense that this interloper is doing away with the very things that supposedly define Michigan (nevermind the fact that the assumption that any one person knows what these things are is ridiculous). You know, "tradition" and such, a word that has over time been rendered a sad, desiccated entity lacking any sort of real meaning.

I don't agree with every single thing that Brandon has done. I also don't want to make it seem as if I've trying to be completely dismissive of the belief that DB's EVIL corporate background might end up being a bad thing eliciting legitimate criticism at some point down the line. I don't want a mascot, I want Michigan's last game of the season to be against Ohio State, I don't want ads displayed prominently within the stadium, I think "Sweet Caroline" is terrible, etc.

It comes down to two things: a) people think that Michigan is above "marketing" because we supposedly have innumerable Scrooge McDuck-esque vaults full of cash money and thus shouldn't stoop to such base levels and b) people just like to complain about ancillary, fairly pointless things like jersey designs--even though Michigan has experimented with jersey designs in the past (e.g. white pants, different shades of maize, gradual reformulation of the helmet wings, etc.)--because they're points that can be articulated easily and explosively.

Don't advertise, don't market, don't try to find new revenue streams**, don't raise ticket prices, don't attempt to appeal to the younger generations of fans...but definitely get us that new practice facility and stadium renovations right away! Right.

Don Canham, the Dave Brandon of yesteryear wait what but tradition this can't be (via Bentley)

Anyway, this subject isn't worth much more treatment than this. Like Rosenberg, it appears that those that dislike Dave Brandon, no matter what he does, will continue to do so quite mindlessly. Thank goodness we're less than two weeks away from real football. Until then, I will have to generally look like this whenever the anti-DB-NO-MATTER-WHAT campaign rears its nonsensical head, a grotesque head fashioned from bits of old leather helmets and bleacher seat cushions.



  1. Fouad, I always kinda feel bad when I don't see comments on your site because I basically don't comment on anything ever, but I want you to know that I make it a point to read just about everything you write about Michigan athletics. I may not always agree with everything you say, although I'm definitely with you on this one, but I love your writing style and really enjoy your work. Please keep it up. Oh, and your article the other day on Al Borges was fantastic.

  2. Hey, thanks! Really, I do appreciate it. Receiving comments like yours every once in a while is always encouraging. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn't be nice to get a little more traffic/reader participation/whatever, but, at the same time...I would have quit doing this approximately one month into it if I didn't legitimately and completely enjoy it. Either way, it's nearly impossible to "make it big" with a simple blogspot setup these days unless you're covering recruiting these days (and I'm guessing you know what my feelings are about the business of recruiting coverage since you said you've been reading for a while).

    At this point, I'm pretty used to spending a decent amount of time writing something only to have it go uncommented upon...that's fine. So it goes. For the "love of the game", as they say.

    Anywho, thanks again! It's always great to be informed that there are in fact folks out there that enjoy what I write.

  3. The fact that it is something of a cliche to say that traditions are important, makes the statement no less true. In someways I think Brandon has done a good job, the Hoke hire, various improvements in the infrastructure. Some of his choices I am less sure of increasing ticket prices, scheduling the Bama game in Cowboy stadium, multiple uniforms. One that I am positive is a serious mistake is reactivating retired jersey numbers (especially Ford's) and converting them to a patch. If you want to more visibly honor those past great players/men then fly their jerseys at Michigan Stadium.

    Michigan athletics is a special program because it is about something far greater that sports. It is about molding young men (and now women) into champions. That is the Michigan tradition that forms the foundation for all the others, and I fear the one which Brandon fails to understand.

    1. "The fact that it is something of a cliche to say that traditions are important, makes the statement no less true."

      Hey, no argument there. I am by no means arguing that Michigan should be sacrificing its most treasured traditions in favor of innovation for its own sake, money, or any other reason. After all, I am a Michigan fan/alum too, and I don't want us to be like Oregon or an NFL Lite team. With that said, my issues with this narrative are: a) the idea of "tradition" is a problematic notion to begin with and b) I get the feeling that when people complain about some of these things that DB has done (or even hasn't yet done, in some cases), they are not defending a well-defined tradition/something that has been done for a long time and carries any real emotional capital...rather, they are simply complaining about a distinct decision that they believe to distasteful or wrong. That is fine, I guess, but then the discussion devolves from one of "the defense of a crystallized tradition" to one of mere personal taste, which is one that isn't all that interesting or useful and could quiet literally be debated into perpetuity.

      Jerseys, for example. Many people in the Internet community (when I say this, I typically mean MGoBlog) aren't fans of the jerseys that DB approved last season. Okay, fine. Heck, I didn't really like any of them, and I would have preferred that Michigan wore it's traditional home uniforms for UTL. Still, there are people out there that *do* like them (just look around on gameday...plenty of people are wearing them). More it really that big of a deal? Are people really going to remember what jerseys we wore when thinking about the 2011 ND game years from now? People doth protest too much, that's all I'm saying.

      I don't want to ramble on too much longer, but I'll say this: I appreciate the fact that Michigan fans are willing to criticize DB and express their disapproval about certain things he's done or expressed interest in doing. Healthy debate is good, almost always. Not every fanbase is as appreciate of their program's traditions--and, you like said, that Michigan is "about something far greater than sports." Some fans don't even have many traditions to defend in the first place.

      With that said, many if not all of these complaints, whether I agree with them or not (and, like I said, I do agree with some of them, although usually to a less extreme extent), don't seem to jive with a rational defense of a verifiable "tradition" in and of itself, especially since some these things being complained about aren't even traditions, really.

      As for your last sentence, that pretty much speaks to what I was saying about people decrying things that haven't occurred yet or simply "might" occur (i.e. the "slippery slope"). I think that DB has indisputably been a net positive for Michigan. Like all of us, he's not perfect and he deserves to be called out when necessary. I just think that a majority of the standard complaints lobbed his way are just not that crucial in the grand scheme of things. But, of course, this is all only my opinion.

      Anyway, thanks for reading. I really do appreciate your decision to comment despite your disagreement. I think we can all agree that the season starting very soon will do wonders for ending these mostly fruitless kinds of debates. Go Blue!