Tuesday morning started the same as any other weekday starts. Tuesday means it’s time to accept the fact that the working week is here—and it’s staying—and it also means we’re inching closer to Michigan’s next game, this one against Minnesota. But when I got to the point in my morning routine where I check out what’s happening around the Michigan world, I was shocked and confused to see that you could buy two Coke products and receive two tickets to the Michigan-Minnesota game completely on the house.
You’re telling me if you buy two Coke products on campus, you’re through the gates this Saturday?
Then came the backlash. Angry tweets poured in, especially from fans who have emptied their pockets for season tickets. They had every right to be angry; everyone had every right to be angry. We’re talking about a Michigan brand that has taken so many hits under the thumb of an athletic director who is driven by money and business.
Driven by money and business, driven by the materials that were once separated from Michigan football, driven by the idea of being the biggest and the baddest. Dave Brandon has been driven all right—driven to his end. To his rightful end.
It’s been an ugly process in the making, and a good amount of the buzz seems to revolve around tickets in one way or another.
At the Big Ten athletic director meetings in Chicago last year, Brandon deemed student attendance at home football games to be “unacceptable.”
“We had a trend that was very alarming to us, and it got worse year after year after year,” Brandon said. “You go into the stadium and the team runs out of the tunnel, and you look up, and there’s 7,000 empty seats — or more — in the student section. That’s just unacceptable.”
So what his response? What was his idea to draw more students to game and energize the spirit surrounding the program? By making students participate in a general admission regime while they pay $100 more for season tickets for the 2013 season. As John U. Bacon pointed out just a few months ago, when Michigan students were asked in a survey to rank seven factors for buying season tickets, cell phone service ranked last. Dave Brandon, on the other hand, was adamant in saying cell phone service was in fact “the biggest challenge we have.”
Under the General Admission seating policy—first come, first serve—students are no longer sectioned off according to class. Instead, it’s a free-for-all, making it difficult for students to sit with their friends, which was the first-ranked factor in the previously mentioned survey.
So let’s review: Students want to sit with their friends, and they don’t really care about cell phone service. Brandon responds by making it extremely difficult to sit with friends and identifies cell phone service as the biggest obstacle being faced.
Admission for your average fan doesn’t look any prettier, either. I was there for this year’s opener against Appalachian State, and I couldn’t have counted how many times I heard someone moan and groan about how much tickets were to come see Michigan beat up an a little guy. Granted, it was Appalachian State, but the fact remains: People don’t want to pay big money for little results.
Forget the 2-2 record heading into this week’s game against Minnesota. There’s a problem that stretches far beyond that, and that problem is greed. We’ve fallen into it—all of us, at some point. And now we’re growing sick of it, as we should.
So when I woke up Tuesday morning and learned an on-campus promotion with Coca-Cola was just handing out tickets, I saw it come around in full swing. Michigan’s joke of an athletic director wants your money, your mindless loyalty and an accomplishment on which to hang his hat. Sure, the university came out promptly and said a mistake had been made, but who really cared at that point?
I haven’t even mentioned things like concessions, advertisements and the discussing treatment of former players, which was brought to light by ex-Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor. No, I’ve focused on what should be a simple subject matter: tickets. Yet, as the years go by, tickets seem to be grabbing at the sleeves of Brandon and yanking him down.
For the sake of the wonderful University of Michigan, I sincerely hope this stumble was the last of its kind. Not only that, but I sincerely hope Dave Brandon is never even given the chance to stumble again. Not at Michigan.