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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dave Brandon wants to continue boning you with EMU for $70 a ticket

I'm not naive.  I understand that big-time college football is a big business with bills to pay and massive overhead.

But at what point does servicing the big business part cause one not to see the bigger picture?  When does the whorish pursuit of more money become so all-consuming that it robs fans, players and programs of something even more priceless?

Yesterday, the Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan AD Dave Brandon is against any home-and-home series with anybody but Notre Dame.

In a story entitled Michigan AD Dave Brandon doesn't want nonconference road games (other than Notre Dame), Brandon was quoted as saying:

"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium.  It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."

What a ginormous load of crap.

It's not the right thing, it's a short-sited bottom line decision to the detriment of the bigger picture for both fans, players and the program at large.

First off, Brandon doesn't believe Michigan "can" go on the road for a nonconference game due to the finances of giving up a home game?

Come.  On.

Folks, if Michigan - with the biggest stadium in the country, which sells out every game, with 3,900 sold-out high-priced club level seats and suites, with seat licensing fees tacked on to already-expensive ticket prices, with income from the wildly successful Big Ten Network, with merchandising revenue from one of the most iconic brand names in all of sport - can't afford to play a road game, then something is seriously screwed up with the sport I love.

And if Michigan can't afford to to do it, then nobody can.

Yet they do. 

Amazingly, Michigan somehow managed to have home-and-home series with Colorado, Syracuse, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon in the last 15 years before Dave Brandon arrived and the program didn't fall into financial ruin.  I think it could probably survive if we did it again.

Second, not only is it not "the right thing to do for our fans," it's the exact wrong thing to do. 

For fans and alums outside the state of Michigan or the Big 10's Midwestern footprint, those games are special.  I went to Oregon in '03 for the game and it was incredible (except for the outcome of the actual game, of course).

For players and recruits, those non-con games are also a plus.  To tell a kid from Cali that he'll be playing at Stanford while he's at U-M, or a kid from Texas he'll playing a home-and-home against A&M during his Michigan career, is huge.

Exciting non-conference games also keep Michigan in the national spotlight.  High-profile games keep the country talking about the Maize and Blue.  Are they a bigger risk since, without a playoff, one loss can kill BCS title dreams?  Of course.  But I think the rewards outweigh the risks.  And I'm not saying it has to be a Top 5 SEC team each year.  But for cryin' out loud, enough with padding the home schedule with EMU, WMU and any other directional university in the state of Michigan who'll come to A2 (or even worse, a 1-AA team).

Coming soon to The Big House for $70 a ticket?
Those games suck on all levels.

Competitively, they're a joke - or at least are supposed to be.  Since even the players don't care, it's hard to get pumped up (making the jeopardy of these games greater [See Appalachian State] than the risk of a moderately tough non-conference road game).

And while they may be a financial windfall to Michigan's coffers, they're a giant stiff one for the fans.  Seriously, $70 a ticket to watch Michigan play Eastern Michigan?  Or UMass?  Or Delaware State?  That borders on being criminal.

If this is really about the fans, then charge something like half price for games that, if we're being honest, are supposed to be over by half time.  Make it so a family of four can catch a game in The Big House for far less than the almost $400 bucks it takes now (between tickets, parking, concessions, etc.) for the filler games.

Put it this way, if Dave Brandon thinks a crappy home game against the EMUs of the world is "the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages," then I dare him to let season ticket holders opt out of EMU and WMU home games each year.

I double dare him.

But with a home-and-home against a team whose name is recognized beyond the Great Lakes, not only do fans and alums outside Michigan win when the game is on the road, but those buying U-M season tickets win when their $70 gets them something that's not intended from its scheduling to be a glorified scrimmage.

Unfortunately, sadly, I think Mr. Brandon's way of being penny wise and pound foolish is what we're stuck with.  So at least quit insulting our intelligence by saying you're doing it because "it's the right thing to do for the fans."

It's all about the money.  It's only about the money.  Period.

Trying to sell it as anything else is a complete and ginormous load.


Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

I have said it before, with Brandon, it IS about the money. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but after he left Dominos they had to revamp down to square one basically to get their customer base back. It is obvious, I didn't like the hiring of him, and when it was first even in the wind, I thought it wasn't even possible to consider HIM.....I was wrong. Tickets went up $16 a seat, and those are the not so important games, from last year. I don't buy the student season ticket anymore. I do like to buy a 4-8 pack a year to take my kids to one game. This year that is $64 total more than last year (for 4 tickets). Oh.....and it will probably be to watch a cupcake game. Which means, this year I will likely only buy 2 tickets instead of 4-8 and miss out on taking my kids and their significant others.
I get inflation, I get it. I also get why we get raped inside the stadium because the vendors are required to pay huge sums just to sell there and give up a good percentage of their profits. I get that parking is a premium and if you drive to the game you will pay for it.

I agree with you on this, travel games to non-conference oponents (worthy oponents) are valuable in many ways (how about having the experience of playing in a large stadium that is not cheering for you to help prepare for bowl games?)

MONEY it is all about money and that DOES cheapen the program.

Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

Oops, wrong account.....Catie here

Bigasshammm said...

And with one post you've completely nailed why I won't be attending a game this season. 70-85 a ticket is criminal. If you have to drive in from out of town (3 hours away) with gas prices and the cost of parking and everythign else you're looking at 300 or more for a Football "experience". No thank you. As much as I love Michigan I love putting food in my family's mouths more.

Mikoyan said...

In the 90's, Michigan played teams like Colorado, Virginia, Florida State and I believe Miami (although that might have been the late 80's). It used to be pretty cool because it didn't seem like Michigan was picking on the Little Sisters of the Poor. I wish Michigan would go back to that.

As much as I like to see Michigan playing EMU (I am an alumnus), I would rather see them play to their level of competition. If that means a home and home...so be it. And seriously, how much money would Michigan lose if they played a Texas or Texas A&M? I mean, they would get a cut of that teams ticket revenues. They would also get a cut of TV revenues that wouldn't be on the Big 10 Network or whatever. And if they are that concerned about revenue, maybe they could have Slippery Rock play a game or two in the Big House again.....

justthinking said...

I must concur with all of your statements.

F the BCS "pad your schedule" nonsense. Bring in some real teams to play (and go play) and then - win or lose those - go win the Big Ten afterwards.

I could seriously give a SHIQ about the whole National Championship BS. Beat ND, Beat State and Beat Ohio. Win the Big 10 and go win your bowl game.

I'd like to know what the breaking point for this nonsense is going to be. When is enough, enough?


Jeff said...

I think Brandon is throwing down the gauntlet when it comes to negotiating either one-off neutral site games, like 2012's Jerry-World game vs. Bama, or trying to make clear that if a big team wants a home-and-home, there'd better be some serious money. He's not stupid - he knows that a home and home with a major SEC power would be big bucks. He was speaking in the context of not scheduling another home-and-home with a team like UConn that plays in a small stadium in a tiny college town.

He's already trying (or perhaps has tried) to move the UConn game to a major East Coast city but I don't know that UConn will go for it.

Mr. "I create the future" knows that nobody's future includes interminable series vs. EMU and WMU.

surrounded in columbus said...

sorry, but i disagree.

first, look at the schedules of every major top 10-15 team, especially the SEC. most of those play a schedule that has, at most, one major BCS opponent, and one non conference road game every other year. almost no one plays more than one non conference road game on alternating seasons.

since we already play ND every year (and if you wanna question the wisdom of THAT long term deal, i think there's an argument there, but that's not the point right now), we have that set alternating road game against a BCS opponent already. our schedule, this schedule, isn't any different than any of the other major school's schedules.

to put it into perspective- last year's MNC teams, Auburn & Oregon? their non conference opponents were: Arkansas State, Clemson, La- Monroe, and Chattanooga- all home for Auburn, & New Mexico, @ Tennesee, and Portland State, for Oregon.

frankly, how is our schedule any worse than that?

and the Oregon schedule brings to mind another important point- the PAC plays(ed)a 9 game conference schedule. they already have an extra road conference game every other season as a result. playing more than one road non conference game could result in a year w/ fewer home games than road games overall. as the big ten considers future schedules, adding another conference game would definitely impact the number of road non conference games you would want.

frankly, i think you are all barking up the wrong tree on this one. what Brandon is doing is what EVERY other successful (both on & off the field) BCS school is already doing or been doing for decades. all of the major power schools are scheduling EXACTLY like this. are all these ADs wrong? is everyone at UT, Bama, Oregon, tosu, UF, et al, stupid, short sighted, and greedy? i don't think so.

everyone of these programs typically plays one major opponent in the pre conference, and lines up 3 home games against whomever they can find. we already have committed to that "one" game- ND, and i don't think adding another is really that smart of an idea (if you wanna talk about dumping ND so we can play SEC/PAC schools? sure- i think that's a great idea).

BTW- i remember the late '80's/early '90's games w/ FSU/Colorado/Miami. we lost a bunch of those. between playing those teams and ND? we were out of the MNC debate before the end of September most years.

think about it this way: we play Bama & ND in 2012. let's assume all the "Brady love" isn't just wishful thinking and he really has a competitive team in his second season? what would happen if we finish the regular season 13-1, big ten champions but w/ a loss because we split w/ either Bama in Dallas or ND in South Bend?

imagine what the reaction would be in that scenario should we miss the BCS game because an SEC team that played 4 home games against the La- Monores & a PAC school that played 3 Portland States finished undefeated & ranked ahead of us? what are you going to think about the "beefed up" schedule then?

i promise you, when something like THAT happens? the same fans that are bitching about watching EMU are gonna bitch about Brandon "over scheduling" us and costing us a shot at a MNC. you watch.

Mikoyan said...

I'm not going to bitch about scheduling EMU nor would I bitch if Michigan scheduled Texas, Texas A&M or something like that and lost.

Andy said...

Catie - I think I speak for the whole MZone group (the males at least) when I tellyou.. it would perfectly acceptable if you change your name to "Caring Hands". The mental images are endless...

Getting back to the subject at hand:

This is one area where Yost and I disagree. Dave Brandon is a business man. He was hired to become Michigan's AD primarily because of his strong business track record. With that, he has exceed my expectations. While I don't always agree with the tactical choices he makes, he is doing precisely what he was brought here to do. I believe it is completely reasonable for him to state "It's, financially, the right thing to do" when it comes to maximizing our home non-conference dates. The 2012 game in Dallas against Alabama is proof to me that given the right situation, he will agree to some interesting things.

Ultimately, it is the local market that determines the price of tickets. The simple fact Michigan Stadium is always sold out tells you, from an economics perspective DB could actually charge more and make more for the program. Yes, buying an EMU ticket for $70 does not seem like much of a value. However, most people sitting in the stadium purchase the EMU ticket as part of a season ticket package. Think of it this way... for $140 you get tickets to both the EMU and Ohio State games. I am pretty sure that is a value most Michigan fans will take.

Regarding the schedule... personally, I would love to have a fun home-and-home with an SEC/ACC/B12/PAC10 school. However, as long as Notre Dame squats endlessly on our schedule -- from a football and business perspective it makes no sense to increase your level of difficulty and ruin your chance for a title. Beating ND, winning the "tomato can" games, and going on to win the B10 championship should be enough to be in the BCS conversation every year.

That being said, I think DB should drop the ND series for 10 years and find other top tier non-conference challenges. It is the right thing to do to improve our national brand, expand our recruiting pipelines, and let Notre Dame know it is not acceptable to both reject and depend on the Big 10 for their football independence.

surrounded in columbus said...

i agree w/ you, in that i don't see our problem as having EMU/WMU/other MAC school on the schedule. i see the problem as being tethered to ND for all eternity as if they had actually joined the conference.

i understand why we've done this- tradition, short road trip, national TV regardless of record (the 2007 thru 2010 M-ND games had to set some sort of record for ratings for a game between really bad to just mediocre teams, for 4years in a row).

but if we want to do "something else"? we need to drop them for a while.

M Fanfare said...

It's amazing to see videos of Michigan road games from the '80s, '90s and early '00s. A search of the Bentley's websites shows that we visited South Carolina, Boston College, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii (!), UCLA, and Syracuse. Some of those were national powers at the time, others weren't. But what's wrong with going on the road and playing a mid-level BC team like Colorado, Arizona State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, or someone else and bringing them in for a home-and-home? I would MUCH rather see one of those instead of yet another WMU/EMU/CMU/random MAC game.

Yost said...

Two things:

I totally agree that dropping ND which is a must. As SiC so appropriately said, we're tethered to like they joined the damn conference. Forget records, there is simply no excitement about that game anymore b/c, as a non-con game, it's always there. I'd much rather do what Tosu* does and have a different home-and-home every two years.

Second, I think the shit bag games are overpriced (and all, really) as evidenced by all the offers to buy single game tickets for the crap games and also their groupings in ticket packages with attractive games. That's never been done before. But between cost and the lack of attractiveness of some of the games, I think we'e having a hard time selling some of the crap games out.

Third (I lied), I agree with M Fanfare in that I'd much rather replace a crap home game with a mid-level Big Six conference school than continually look at the first four games of your schedule and yawn.

Mikoyan said...

I don't understand why we can't have Notre Dame and another semi-powerhouse every year? There are basically 4 games to play with every year. Just make sure that you alternate the home and home so that when you play Notre Dame at home, you're playing the other school away and vice versa. That way, you still have 3 home games in addition to the Big 10 games.

As I said in my first post, I don't mind the EMU game and I can live with a CMU and WMU game as both of those schools are in the state. I'm not too fond of the scheduling of 1-AA schools though.

As for the ticket prices...yes they suck but it is what the market will bear...I guess.

Andy said...

We must really been in off-season mode folks...

How is it no one else has a comment/suggestion for Catie on her google/blogger ID?

Such a HUGE opportunity.

surrounded in columbus said...

i think we should all factor the possibility of a future 9 game conference season into this more, especially when you read Brandon's actual interview, which sounds to me to be far more forward thinking than the immediate next few seasons. also, the discussion of a possible 9 games schedule has continued since Nebraska joined. it wouldn't be surprising to see it happen in another 3 to 5 years. if it does, Brandon's comments are hard to argue against.

w/ a 9 game conference schedule, you'll have 4 home/5 road games- 5 home/4 road games alternating years. you'll only have 3 preconference games, which means you really will only want one BCS level opponent w/ whom you have a home & home (and you'll need to coordinate that series w/ the conference schedule so you are not on the road w/ the pre conference game the same year you have the 5 conferenc road games).

whether or not that one BCS level pre conference game is ND or someone else, if you figure that you have to play a preconference BCS opponent, 9 conference games, and then (hopefully) a big ten championship game? you're really not going to want to add anyone else over a MAC level to team, no matter what you think of WMU.

Mikoyan said...

If there is a 9 game conference schedule, I can live with either a ND or some other random decent team. But under the current situation, I think we should have someone other than ND.

Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

LOL@ Andy! This has been my business name for over 10 years. Caring Hands (I am a nurse)........I think that only will fuel the fire though.........Heellllooooooo Nurse!

Jack said...

How about we have our non-conference games be against Florida, Alabama, and Texas every year? Your response will probably be something like "But that's, er, REALLY HARD, man!!!!!"

Yeah. But it's not a problem if you win them. That's what we need to do. We need to schedule tough teams and beat them every year. Otherwise, even if we go undefeated thanks to easy games against WMU and other MAC teams, and we make it to the BCS Championship game, we're going to get murdered by an SEC team that is used to playing tough teams every year. Case in point: Ohio State.

But – if we schedule tough teams (SEC especially) and prepare and beat them, then we have a legitimate shot of becoming a frequent and undisputed National Championship contender. How can the nay-sayers argue against Michigan's place in the game if they've beaten Florida, Alabama, and Texas (and maybe USC)? "Um, well, Michigan shouldn't be in the NC game and OSU should because…well…OSU beat WMU, and all Michigan beat was…Texas, and Florida, and Alabama. Damn."

I like that D. Brandon wants to pay for expanding our stadium, and he knows he has to do that by having a LOT of home games, but in the long run it is kind of shortsighted. You need to schedule tough teams and play them away! It's good prep for bowl games (as someone pointed out), and of course, the BCS.

Yost brings up a good point with the alumni. It's almost as if Brandon assumes all Michigan fans live in Ann Arbor. Some of us live in California and would love to see Michigan smack around USC in the Coliseum.

As for Notre Dame, it's nice to ruin their chances of a BCS title early in the season, but really I don't think playing them is necessary. It's not like #1 vs. #2 every year anymore. Maybe once they win a few more NCs, then we'll talk.

phil said...

Some good comments on here, but so many different opinions that I am now confused. So we all agree that "Caring Hands Catie" is selling out her home games but the first three or four are "yawners" before she really gets cranked up. So some of us would like to see "Caring Hands Catie" schedule home-home contests with nurses outside her conference, realizing full-well that a loss could jeopardize her entry into BIG TEN conference game of caring hands. Side note: I've seen Catie's prices on Glass Art and Fine Jewelry. Apparently Dave Brandon is helping her price them.

Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

Phil, Phil.......you are assuming that we would lose to BCS teams, have some faith! Does beating EMU who has to buy out more than half of their own tickets each game just to keep in D1 actually count or mean anything? Even if we lost to a SEC team and it was a good close game, that would mean more than blowing out a team that has no busines being in D1.

Side note: DB wouldn't price his items below wholesale, so you can rest assured he had no involvment in the pricing of those items!

Dennis said...

I agree with SiC which hopefully won't make him change his mind. We have the same issue to some extent down here, but as pointed out we aren't stuck with Notre Dame. The problem there is they haven't been very good so beating them is not much differennt than beating some mid-teir Big Ten team. Honestly, that is what they are but they still live in their delusional world and I'm not sure what it will take to break that from that. The Big Tweleven playing hardball with them, might do it, but that is a discussion for another day.

We spin, for what it is worth, the games against most of the non-conference cupcakes as keeping the money in the state. So we play Bowling Green and Akron and Youngstown State to help keep the money local. And we try to get a smaller but potentially good school to come here, such as Marshall (which when scheduled looked better than it ended up being) and Colorado this year.

If Notre Dame were good and regularly in contention I don't think this would be such an issue, but I am unconvinced they will ever be that again.

Catie, my 8 year old loves the Animaniacs, I got the series on DVD years ago, but he has only been watching the last year or so. I reminded him ahead of time that greeting the nurses at the hospital that way was not appropriate. To which I got the evil eye and "Dad, I know that." Of course had I not said anything...

Ramona said...

We have fan bases in other states that also support the program and should have the opportunity to attend a game there. I know because I see them at DTW every Friday and Sunday in the fall, so not only buying the tickets but airfare. Course it is cheaper than driving...anyway as several have noted, these away-games are THE best preparation for bowl games, where we are lackluster.