The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come- How Greed Killed College Football

Have you heard the good news?

The Michigan Wolverine Football Program made $61.6 MILLION in 2011-12.

For most organizations it would be cause for celebration. In Ann Arbor it was time to raise prices.

Yes, despite record profits the Michigan Athletic Department announced that is raising taxes on football season ticket holders…err increasing the amount of preferred seat donations for those who wish to keep their season tickets.

The AD can’t even type Seat Donation with a straight face

The move will help pad the bottom line of the Athletic Department and help to fuel another wave of buildings on the athletic campus.

But the move intensifies the debate of how  skyrocketing ticket prices impact the sustainability of the athletic department profit model.

The ranks of basketball and hockey season ticket holders have been thinned by years of price increases and student season ticket holder numbers have likewise fluctuated.

With huge pockets of empty seats in the student section in Michigan Stadium this past season, it appears that even football isn’t immune to the impact of high ticket prices. Many season ticket holders began attending games as students, transitioning to public season ticket holders after graduation. The Athletic Department risks losing these fans as they graduate.

Many current football season tickets holders are selling a portion of their season tickets to help subsidize their costs. This latest increase have caused some to question the true value of their season tickets. With a waiting list for football season ticket holders, the athletic department seems to be immune to people not renewing their season tickets.

If the athletic department could weather the RichRod era with its losing record and NCAA scandal, a few lost season ticket holders doesn’t seem like a big deal. But with every long time fan who gives up their football, hockey, or basketball season tickets the athletic department gets in return a customer with little or no loyalty to Michigan Athletics.

As the Big Ten expands to include such powerhouses as Maryland and Rutgers, season ticket holders are questioning what kind of games they’ll be seeing in the Big House in future seasons. While the future impact of expansion and tickets prices are unknown, the people making the current decisions won’t be around to face the long term ramifications of these recent developments.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of the money grab. Big Ten expansion will only drive revenues so far. Online viewing will start to erode the stranglehold of cable television and then the Big Ten Network will need to some other source cash. That’s why within the next 5 years we’ll see major event games follow the pay-per-view model. It’s the next logical step in the evolution of greed.

The conference will win, the schools will win, and college football will be headed down the road to being about as relevant as boxing.

It’s a bleak future when the people running your athletic program care more about dollars than fans. But more and more it seems that the short sighted greed of a few will lead to the death of college football as we know it.

Michigan Football 2010- Brandon has turned night to day; but deflecting NCAA may be a tougher feat

Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon sure knows how to make an entrance.

Less than two weeks after taking over the job from Bill Martin, he said, “Let there be light,” and just like that Michigan Stadium will host its first night game in 2011 versus the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Years of excuses as to why a night game at the Big House was logistically impossible were swept away in a matter of days.  Brandon showed himself to be someone who doesn’t accept excuses.

And that’s why today’s hearing with the NCAA was a challenge for the new leader.

Instead of cutting through excuses to get something done, he along with the rest of the Michigan contingent was there to make excuses as to why Rodriguez should not be found to “…have failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance,” among his staff regarding adherence to NCAA rules.  This was the only charge that Michigan chose to dispute after admitting to four violations in May.

Compared to turning night into day at the Big House deflecting the NCAA will be a bigger challenge.

I don’t see how the NCAA can buy Michigan’s argument.  Either Rodriguez knew the rules and stretched them as practically every team in America does or he didn’t know the rules and ignorance isn’t an excuse.

The NCAA can’t allow a coach to avoid sanctions by simply claiming he or his staff didn’t the rules.  It would a create a mountain-sized hole for any renegade coach to take advantage of.

The point is simple- if Rich Rodriguez didn’t know, he should have.  If his staff didn’t inform him, he’s responsible for that, too.  The buck stops with him.  End of story.

Now questions from the readers:

Do you hope that RichRod gets additional sanctions from the NCAA?  You’re showing your bias against him by saying the NCAA won’t believe his explanation.

No, I would love for the NCAA to accept Michigan’s excuses and then apologize for the inconvenience the investigation has caused over the last year.  If David Brandon can convince the NCAA to move on without imposing additional sanctions it may be the greatest example of the Jedi mind trick since Obi-wan talked some renegade droids through a checkpoint a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

These violations are a black eye for the program.  UM has admitted major violations and RichRod should be canned immediately…

Unfortunately, we at Michigan know something about “major” violations.  Read up on the Fab 5/Ed Martin scandal to learn about serious major violations.

These violations are a joke…

That’s not true either.  Anytime the NCAA come in and you admit to four violations, spend nearly year investigating, not to mention a boatload of money (over $500K and counting) it’s definitely SOMETHING. It’s just not the end of life as we know it that some would have us believe.

Who cares what the NCAA thinks, they’re out of touch…

The NCAA is judge, jury, and executioner in this case.

Here is footage of an actual NCAA “hearing”:

Get the idea?  They expect groveling not defiance.

Why are people so bent out of shape about the CARA forms?  They are an internal UM control not something imposed by the NCAA.

That’s the problem.  It’s not like UM can say the process imposed by the NCAA was too cumbersome to enforce.  The CARA forms were an internal control created by the UM athletic department.  If the process was flawed it was UM’s responsiblity to fix it long before the NCAA can calling.

This is clearly a conspiracy by Lloyd Carr supporters in the AD to embarrass Rich Rod.

Stand down the black helicopters.  While Lloyd was popular it’s hard to believe that people with families and mortgages would risk their jobs to torpedo Rich Rodriguez.

What do you think happened?

I think that this was an interdepartmental squabble that spiralled out of control.  It probably should have/would have been resolved internally given time.  As soon as the CARA forms turned up MIA it was the like waving a red cape in front of a bull and the rush to judgement was on…

2010 M Football- 10 things to leave in 2009

As a new year begins there are some things that are best left in the past.

1.  NCAA violations
Seriously, enough of this crap.  It’s bad enough that the NCAA is taking forever to investigate the first batch of allegations made by the Detroit Free Press.  Let’s hope that 2010 is scandal free.
2.  Teams we’re never heard of
Delaware State?  You know things are bad when a program’s band gets more press than the football team.  Unfortunately this one is already shot since Massachusetts and Connecticut are on this season’s schedule.  We’ll have to roll this over for 2011.
3.  Home for the holidays
OK, all the people who thought that it was just horrible that the football team would usually leave before Christmas for their bowl destination have been appeased.  Athletic department staff who haven’t spent Christmas and New Year’s Day with their in-laws for decades have made appearances two years in row now.  It’s time to get the football team, athletic department staff, and alumni traveling again.
4.  Big Ten Expansion
Expansion rears its ugly head again.  Move the season back if you must but ditch the idea of the league championship game.  Multiple divisions with some games against league teams counting and others not are stupid.  Rather than follow in the moronic footsteps of lesser conferences do something innovative to highlight more of the league’s top teams rather than just the top two.  Imagine a Big Ten/Big East challenge after the Big Ten season is over that matches the top the 5 seeds of each conference in neutral sites like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  The other conferences would be drooling to have that kind of exposure.
5.  Tate Forcier’s unflappable confidence
I love that Tate Forcier has great confidence.  However I an tired of hearing how losses don’t bother him.  Tate, seriously, they should bother you.  Not crush you- but they should motivate you to work harder.  The robotic quotes seem a little odd.  Show some fire…
6.  Potshots from the Michigan “family”
There a lot of people within the Michigan family who are both for and against Coach Rich Rodriguez.  Unfortunately some of those who support Coach Rodriguez have taken shots at the previous regime.  Coach Rodriguez is responsible for the Michigan football team from here out.  There is no way he would allow a current player to blame his current poor performance on the starter from two season ago.  We need to hold Coach Rodriguez to the same standard.
7.  Being swept by the “states”
The later part of Lloyd’s tenure as head coach Michigan certainly struggled with Ohio State.  But he absolutely owned Penn State and Michigan State.  It’s time for Rich Rodriguez to start new winning streaks against all of the “states.”
8.  Whining that the cupboard was bare
On the day that Coach Rodriguez took over the cupboard was hardly bare.  The first job of a new coach is to re-recruit players currently in the program.  For whatever reason many players decided to leave either by declaring for the NFL draft or transferring.  I have no problem with players leaving and Coach Rodriguez wanting to have his own type of players on the team.  But he had active role in creating the current roster.  For him to imply that the talent wasn’t here when he took over is disingenuous.
9.  Piped in music for every game
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself’ being played against Ohio State or Notre Dame is cool.  When it’s played against the likes of Delaware State or Eastern Michigan it’s a joke.

10.  Michigan Stadium being taken over by opposing fans
The best way to do this is for the team to start putting the smack down on the field.  Opposing fans hate showing up and seeing their team get whooped on the field.  This doesn’t mean for Michigan fans to treating opposing rudely.  Save that idiotic behavior for other schools.  Cheer loudly and let the team take care putting the smack down.