The real reasons why students — and others — are bailing on Michigan football tickets

by | Jun 5, 2014 | Uncategorized | 207 comments

Last week, the Michigan athletic department admitted what many had long suspected: student football ticket sales are down, way down, from about 21,000 in 2012 to a projected 13,000-14,000 this fall.

The department has blamed cell phones, high-definition TV, and a sweeping national trend – but those don’t tell the whole story.

How’d Michigan lose so many students so fast?  Answer: a lot of hard work.

Athletic Director Dave Brandon has often cited the difficulty of using cell phones at Michigan Stadium as “the biggest challenge we have.”  But when Michigan students were asked in a recent survey to rank seven factors for buying season tickets, they ranked cell phones seventh — dead last.

What did they rank first?  Being able to sit with their friends.

But Brandon did away with that last year, with his new General Admission seating policy.  Instead of seating the students by class — with the freshmen in the endzone and the seniors toward the fifty, as they had done for decades – last year it was first come, first served.  (They also raised the price to $295 for seven games, up from $195 for six games the year before.)  The idea was to encourage students to come early, and come often.  Thousands of students responded by not coming at all.

This was utterly predictable – and I predicted it, 13 months ago, in this column.  (

(This is probably as good a place as any to say, No, this is not about the department pulling my press pass.  It’s not personal.  It’s about misguided decisions and long-term consequences.)

TV networks loved showing blimp shots of the sold-out Big House – one of the iconic sights in college football.  Now they don’t show any.

Working with student government leaders, the athletic department revised the policy for the 2014 season.  But it was apparently too little, too late, as some 6,000 Michigan students decided to drop their tickets anyway.

Insult to injury: college teams now play their biggest rivals on Thanksgiving weekend, when most Michigan students have gone home.  If the students don’t love college football now, when it’s half-price, will they love it more when they’re paying twice that, plus a Personal Seat License?

“We know who our competitor is,” Brandon often says.  “Your 60-inch, high-definition TV.”

If that’s true, maybe they shouldn’t have increased seat prices by an average of $100 each since Brandon took over.  Perhaps they should stop charging six bucks for a hot dog, five bucks for popcorn, and four dollars for water.  Maybe they should stop showing ads between plays on the big screens for corporate receptions at Michigan stadium, which start at $9,000.  Fans can get all those things at home for less, including the ads.  They can only get the marching band at the big house.

Survey after survey points the finger for lower attendance not at cell phone service or high definition TV, but squarely at the athletic department and college football itself.  Fans are fed up paying steakhouse prices for junk food opponents — and junk food itself — while enduring endless promotions.  The more college football caters to the TV audience at home, the more fans paying to sit in those seats feel like suckers.

Brandon said, “We all think of every home Michigan football game like a miniature Super Bowl.”

I don’t know any Michigan fans who think that.  Quite the opposite, they think Michigan football games are the antidote for the artificial excess of the Super Bowl.

As I wrote in “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, in 2005, then-athletic director Bill Martin commissioned a survey which revealed more than 50-percent of Michigan season ticket holders had been buying them for more than two decades, but only nine-percent of them also bought season tickets to any professional team.  This tells us a basic truth: Michigan football fans don’t just love football.  They love Michigan football—the history, the traditions, the rituals — the timeless elements that have grown organically over decades.  They are attracted to the belief that Michigan football is based on ideals that go beyond the field, do not fade with time, and are passed down to the next generation — the very qualities that separate a game at the Big House from the Super Bowl. 

After the 2013 Notre Dame game, Brandon said, “You’re a 17-18 year old kid watching the largest crowd in the history of college football with airplanes flying over and Beyonce introducing your halftime show? That’s a pretty powerful message about what Michigan is all about, and that’s our job to send that message.”

Is that really what Michigan is all about?  Fly-overs, blaring rock music, and Beyonce?  Beyonce is to Michigan football what Bo Schembechler is to — well, Beyonce.  No, Michigan is all about lifelong fans who’ve been coming together for decades to leave a bit of the modern world behind – and the incessant marketing that comes with it – and share an authentic experience fueled by the passion of the team, the band and the students.  That’s it.

In his speeches, Brandon often mentions he was the CEO of three Fortune 500 companies.  Then why doesn’t he know his customers, and what they want?

Yes, the department has always followed basic business practices.  But it has never been run strictly as a business — until now.  The proof is the wait list, which former athletic director Don Canham grew by the thousands.  Canham was a millionaire businessman in his own right.  If he wanted to “maximize revenue,” he knew he could increase the price to meet demand.  But he didn’t, because he believed that would dispel the magic.

Brandon’s predecessor, Bill Martin, another self-made millionaire, introduced Personal Seat Licenses to the Big House, but only after the nation’s next 19-biggest stadiums had already done so.  Even then, the PSL program was relatively moderate, he spared the fans in the endzones, and he lowered ticket prices after the 2008 recession. Michigan’s wait list remained robust.

“Just because you can charge them more,” Martin told me, “doesn’t mean you should.  You’re not there to ring up the cash to the nth degree.  It’s a nonprofit model!”

Again, from Fourth and Long: In Brandon’s first three years, he increased the operating budget from $100 million to $137.5.  That does not include the building program, last estimated at $340 million.  In Brandon’s defense, he also generated a $9 million surplus, and the buildings will benefit all Michigan’s teams, not just football and basketball.  But his budget also includes: his million-dollar salary, three times what Bill Martin paid himself, plus a $300,000 annual bonus –adding to a 62-percent increase in administrator compensation; a 225-percent increase in “marketing, promotions and ticketing”; and a 500-percent increase in “Hosting, Food and Special Events.”

I’ve come to believe it’s not scandal that will bring down college athletics, but greed.  How long can these numbers, fueled by increasingly unhappy fans, continue to skyrocket before they come crashing down to earth?

All that money comes from someone – and that someone is you, the fans.  Tickets used to be underpriced, and you knew that when you scalped them for more than you paid.  Now they’re overpriced, and you know that when you try to sell them through Michigan’s Official Scalper, Stubhub, and get far less.

The wait list is long gone.  They’ve been sending waves of emails to former ticket holders to assure them, “The deadline has been extended!”  Beg your former customers to come back five times, and you don’t have a deadline, and you don’t have a wait list.

This fall Michigan is in danger of breaking its string of 251-consecutive games with 100,000-plus paid attendance, which started in 1975.  Treat your fans like customers long enough, and eventually they’ll start behaving that way, reducing their irrational love for their team to a cool-headed, dollars-and-cents decision to buy tickets or not, with no more emotional investment than deciding whether to go to the movies.

After a friend of mine took his kids to a game, he told me, “Michigan athletics used to feel like something we shared.  Now it’s something they hoard. Anything of value they put a price tag on.  Anything that appeals to anyone is kept locked away—literally, in some cases—and only brought out if you pay for it.  And what’s been permanently banished is any sense of generosity.”

After Brandon became Michigan’s 11th athletic director in 2010, he has often repeated one of his favorite lines: “If it ain’t broke… break it!”

You have to give him credit: he has delivered on his promise.

* * * * *

Please join the conversation, but remember: I run only those letters from those who are not profane or insane, and who include their FULL name. 

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  1. David Belletini

    John, I’ve disagreed with you before, but you are spot on. D Brandon runs the dept. like a little fiefdom. It’s not customer friendly, WE ARE NOT CUSTOMERS DAVE!!! We are lifelong blood & guts fans of the University of Michigan! He doesn’t get it, I’m afraid he never will. I have been a season ticket holder since ’78, sec 36, row 85. I’ve grown to middle age with my brothers & sisters in the north end zone and wouldn’t trade there friendship for anything. Our love for M football will never die, but the seeds of discontent have been planted by a pandering, inept, and cynical athletic dept. We feel like suckers, like we aren’t worthy because we aren’t the big money donors that they cater to. It’s sad & it hurts. Go Blue, and keep up the good work

    • Sylvia L. Marabate

      You have taken the words directly from the letter I composed in my mind to send to Dave Brandon to explain why after 25 years my husband and I were not renewing our football tickets. We are not doctors or lawyers having chosen careers in public service so we were never wealthy. We did, however, love our school, support it in any way that we could, and that included the football program. Our seats have been in the north end zone about 20 rows up from the field for all these years. So what happened? Exactly what you described. Cell phones? That’s ridiculous! But a fee for a premium seat that is far from premium in any way now that’s a good reason. Consistently being crushed and crunched on our bleacher seats so that the University could squeeze in more people and have bragging rights to the most number of people watching a college football game? Literally having to sit sideways to accomodate the number of fans in the row even though they supposedly re-numbered the seats to provide more room. I could go on and on about the indignities suffered especially as the large, heavyset guy in front of me spent most of the game sitting in my lap. Then there was ticket prices where we were paying a ridiculous amount to watch Eastern Michigan University suffer another humiliating defeat while our players chest-bumped and congratulated themselves on their prowess. And Stubhub — what a joke as we couldn’t give away tickets for some of these games. And the concessions — ok you want to have to call in the EMTs because we are now dehydrated after sitting in the high temperatures and drinking our $5 water by the end of the first quarter. Too many more things to mention other than to reiterate that you are dead right on this one. Our reasons for not renewing our tickets have nothing to do with watching from home on our 42″ TV or any other ridiculous explanation because everyone knows that there is nothing like the excitement of being in the stadium on game day. They will probably blame this on Brady Hoke and say it’s because we don’t have a winning team but they really need to blame it on their own greed. Dave Brandon, like Rich Rod, apparently does not understand the culture and what it means to be a Michigan Woman or Man!

      Sylvia L. Marabate, ’70BA; ’71MA

      • johnubacon

        Thank you, David and Sylvia. I’ve been struck by how many stories like yours this column elicited on Facebook, Twitter and here. Honestly, I didn’t fully appreciate how deep the issues ran — and how many have been affected.

        Thank you!


        • Duane A. Rosencrans


          Your comments were pretty much spot on, until you mentioned Rich Rod. His welcome, or lack thereof, by virtually everyone with a laptop and a press pass were so atypical for those professing to be Michigan fans, I have sold my tickets in section 2 and have not stepped into the stadium since his departure. But because you wrote such a nice response, I will be honest as well. I sold my tickets during the LC era, the actual coach who, more than any other, is responsible for the Michigan demise. I did go back to the stadium to watch under him because his approach to football is so refreshing, and he had already proved he was a much better coach than Carr prior to accepting the job. It was not his fault that he expected to be treated with the full support of the Michigan faithful and sports writers because that is part of the tradition. Rosenberg, as you are well aware, was on a personal vendetta and never liked the man from the time he accepted this great job and he certainly went out of his way to prove it, throwing anything he thought might stick, calling into question one of Michigan’s tenured and respected professors based on allegations proven to be false, of course, and finally hitting “pay dirt” by having our one-time pristine program hit with a major violation for “stretchgate,” simply because any violation not stated as minor is automatically designated major. Therefore, our names are along side those of OU, Miami, SMU and those who actually tried to accomplish a competitive edge. It is as actually as laughable as Rosenberg’s writing and his transparent “one man campaign” against a true gentlemen and great coach, Richard Rodgriquez.

          Now back to the “Ugly Truth.” You are aware, aren’t you that Rich Rod was brought in to build the program in his own image. As any fan in America knows, he enjoyed the greatest three year run in cfb in the three seasons prior to his hiring in AA. However, others than those, led by the above writer, he was also unaware that he was inheriting a team bereft of experience by all but one offensive player, a sophomore tackle, no skill players able to play his brand of football and two startling facts that many fans, even nice ones such as yourself are unaware of. His roster, at the start of his first season was minus what amounted to an entire recruiting class. Yes, Sylvia, of a 85 player allotment we had all of 65, and that negative twenty amounted to the number we were missing on the defensive side of the ball where the number is normally 44 or 45 and we did not have enough to fill a two deep defensive roster. That is rather insane for any school, especially one with the tradition of Michigan. Also incomprehensible is the fact that Lloyd actually advised some of his players, including Ryan Mallet, that it would be in their best interests to transfer, even though during his recruitment of his players, he had always preached the virtues of Michigan, the university and stated on numerous occasions, you do not accept an offer from UM based solely on football, but on the entire experience which includes one of the greatest educations available in America and will serve you for a lifetime whether or not you become a professional football player. The simple communication skills possessed by many of our ex-greats and their ability to articulate their message into the exact and proper context compared to their counterparts from other schools is perhaps the most glaring example of what he was espousing.

          The fact that so many Michigan fans, especially those of us who grew up in the 60s expect a 10 win season simply because of that block M is staggering. Far fewer are those of us who are aware of the mess that Rich Rod inherited and that minus adequate time, but above all else support and understanding of a complete change in style of football-after all, it was his belief this was the reason he was hired, were critical in getting the job done. Despite fielding what amounted to a freshmen team his first year, a j.v. team his second and a more seasoned but still well below Michigan standards his third, he was able to win two more games than the previous season and Brady’s only real decent season was the result of Rich Rod’s players executing in the manner of well coached players.

          That is all, but far too many blame Rich Rod for Lloyd’s decision to take off the three years before he officially retired. We were in terrible shape.

          Duane A. Rosencrans

          • Brandon S

            Duane, Thanks for saying what I have been feeling since the days of that whole butched debacle of a hiring process, when OSU Alum Herbie spoke too soon that UM would be hiring Les Miles, only to have the whole thing come crashing down. Coach Rod, once hired, was grossly mistreated and had an empty cupboard no thanks to Carr in large part. That is a damn shame. Additionally, Hoke, as you stated, won 11 games with RRs guys and has declined every since (can you imagine what that offense would have looked like with RRs system in place with Denard, Devin, etc. (who is another RR recruit BTW). Brandon and Hoke have butchered the program and look, if we were winning, the stadium would be filled and we wouldn’t have the issues mentioned in the article in large part. Brandon deserves credit for upgrading the Big House and keeping it one of the true top class venues. I think Brandon has done some great work in the dept. as a whole, but his vision seems to contradict what UM has stood for over the years in many ways. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out over time. For the record, I’ve been soured by UMs mistreatment of RR and hiring of Hoke and things havent felt the same around the program since. Not entirely dissimilar to what happened with the basketball program once the Fab Five sanctions came down. Comparing the two, one an unfortunate situation that is debatable for another time and one, completely self made (football) is a sad but true state of affairs for the current UM program.

          • Horse Power

            Dave Brandon has a big hat and no cattle.

            Just a bunch of hefer dust

        • Vincent Henry

          Duane, You hit the nail on the head. I am a UofM alum (’88) and I stopped watching Michigan football after the gross mistreatment of RichRod. David Brandon’s and Lloyd Carr’s underminded tactics would make Machiavelli blush!!! Now we have got an underqualified coach, who didn’t exactly burn up the MAC, and a egomaniacal CEO (excuse me, AD)that only has reverence for the dollar.

          I will not watch another Michigan football game until Brandon is gone and Lloyd’s cronies are removed from the Athletic Department and Board of Regents. It appears that for the most part, many students have chosen to do the same.

          • John Levine

            Well said. Bo’s wife didn’t have to sit next to Bump’s at Barton Hills charity functions cause Bump had the decency to leave town when he was shown the door. Which is how a Michigan Man (was once) taught to act in polite society. Nothing is going to change at 1000 S. State until the (president?) cleans house of the shadow athletic dept. admin. that was apparently running the selection process for Hoke.

            The program will n-e-v-e-r get the kind of coach it needs..after what’s gone doen the last month unitl the word gets out that the purge was real and successful.

            This’s the same group that was responsible for UMich’s showing in that ’07 Rose Bowl, the first one ever where they were not remotely competitive. Just an embarrassment vs. the Pac 12 (and Carroll’s scummy program that almost got the death penalty) Amazingly, Carr that disaster 9 months later with the 2nd such game of 2007, App State. By that time panic set in due to not having a shred of ‘process’ in place for selecting a new coach in the D1 world of 2007 (which had passed Carr by some 6 years earlier).

            You knew both those ’07 games were baked into the cake after Carr’s teams lost to Ohio State in ’05 for the 4th time in 5 years yer he wasn’t(allowed to)’resign’. Now, the house cleaning is going to take a very long time because there’s so much that’s been allowed to pile up in the corners and under the rugs the last 13 years.

            You gotta feel sorry for the students of today. By about ’19 (at the earliest!) you;ll have minted a generation of alums with no attachment to the Saturday traditions of the 3 decades prior to 2001. Such as winning records (albeit in the horrible ‘B1G’ which has lost progressively more Rose Bowls every decade for 60 years till the last one in which it managed exactly one win). Whatever one hopes to ‘return to’, adding onto that record (being the program with the most loses in Rose Bowl history) isn’t going to happen for some time either given the new D1 4 team playoff system now in place. UMich has never won or even participated in a national title game in football.

            Dave Brandon has, as John U. points out, gone out of his way to mention on more than one occasion that he’s been the CEO of 3 Fortune 500 companies. That’s exactly the problem. The program needs an entrepreneur to run it and not a corporate manager. Don Canham was such a huge success exactly because he had no corporate background. He thought and acted like an owner (of his small closely held company he ran), and not the hired help. If that’s not where you’re coming from, you’re going to have a load on your hands you’re not trained to handle because D1 college programs aren’t for-profit corporations. They’re more akin to a closely held family business, ‘complicated’ and often not for profit…LIKE THE MAJORITY OF COLLEGE SPORTS DEPARTMENTS. Army, Navy, the Ivy League, classy outfits like that, of which UMich is no longer to be confused with. Nice job Mr. Fortune 500 CEO.

            You have to also fault Mary Sue Coleman and her search committee for Dave Brandon’s hire. They really dropped the ball it’s now obvious. The new guy from Brown has now gotta tiger to ride he didn;t realize was in his job description when he came over. He even said ‘it’ wasn’t part of the core mission of (UMich). This’s not likely to end well this journey. Cue the music here for James Caan’s classic rant about a certain Ivy League institution in (our) cult favorite flic ‘The Gambler’. In keeping with strict deference to John U’s (welcome)rules for this board? You’ll have to rent it this holiday season. You’ll have time; you won’t be watching your favorite team in a bowl game this season. While Rich Rod will absolutely be appearing with Arizona in one of them himself.

      • Patrick Wiltse

        Sylvia, I agree with most of what you say. However after reading Three and Out (John Bacon), I have to say that Rich Rod knew what it meant to be a Michigan Man. Ironically, it was everyone around him (athletic department, media, fans) who weren’t acting as Michigan Men and Women. Rich Rod was treated poorly during his time here.

        Patrick Wiltse, UM class of 2015

      • Sean Johnson


        What you describe sounds almost exactly like the situation at Texas. Alienation of long-time fans in pursuit of more and more money all while the “product” on the field diminishes in quality. And they wonder why they have 10000 unsold tickets for the game against North Texas.

  2. Sheri Weintraub

    This is heart wrenching, Bakes. Well written article. So sad, but so true. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  3. Anonymous

    I would have to agree with this article. As an alum of this awesome University, I used to WANT to buy season tickets every year. One to attend the games, two, to show my support for Michigan. When I first began to attend Michigan in 2007-2008, football games, as well as other athletic events had a different feeling to them than they have today. I would say the main reason being what was mentioned above. Before, it was about showing pride and support. Now, and I have heard many people mention this, it is to make money. The increase in football ticket prices, as well as the talk of increasing (if not done so already) other athletic event prices. I remember when attending a softball game at Michigan was EMPHASIZED as a family event, you could bring pets, and family, drinks. The year Brandon got here, strict rules were put in place, “No pets, no outside drinks, no coolers, etc.” I’m not saying everything that has been done shouldn’t have been, i’m just trying to show the “change” that has been happening. Michigan athletics is no longer advertised for the “fun” but for the “business” to make some money. The BIGGEST thing to me personally that shows that, is the giant, excessive video board in front of the Big House and Crisler that plays constant ads for Michigan Athletics. It not only obstructs the view of our beautiful stadium that they just re-did, but it shows the message that Michigan is only interested in getting people’s money. 🙁

    Thank you for the article and allowing me to express my thoughts.
    Forever Go Blue

  4. David Cords

    John, thanks for the article.

    I just wanted to mention that I really think Michigan is going to be in trouble in 10-15 years when they need the students that they are ticking off to pay the “big bucks” that Michigan lawyers, doctors, and those in the corporate world have been paying for the best seats. I graduated from U of M in 2012 and went to my first game in ’93 with my dad (vs. Baylor -still have the ticket stub). I have been going to Michigan football games my entire life and I had the opportunity to get my own season tickets this year and turned them down. If a diehard like myself doesn’t feel the need to get tickets I worry that is going to be the case for most recent and future graduates.

    I actually ended up getting Detroit Lions tickets (yes, I may be crazy). However, the tickets for Michigan and the Lions were actually similarly priced. I weighed out the pros and cons and the biggest factor was although I’d miss out on tailgating, I couldn’t pay Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady prices to see walk ons from App. St. and Minnesota. Saturdays used to be special with my dad, friends, and Michigan family. Now when I go to games it just isn’t the same. I thought maybe it was the product or schedule but I’ve seen bad games and bad results before. It’s the attitude of the Michigan fan base. They have been gutted a little and it shows. The teams a little down and instead of rallying to support the team and school, the school has been slapping us in the face with $$$.

    I hope I’m wrong, but with a lot of Michigan students/graduates being from out of state and the treatment of diehards I fear that Michigan Stadium will end of looking like Indiana’s stadium on Saturday afternoons.

    • VinnyPro

      Brandonville is nothing like the UofM I attended for two degrees. I have had season tickets since I started school in 1970; I have “premium” seats now, along with my trusty endzone seats. This will be the last year for the “premium” seats; 2014 almost was, but I wanted to try one more season. Making a game feel like an NBA game with recorded music is no way to honor tradition as Brandon has mouthed so many times. The anticipation, the excitement of game day are disappearing fast. I never thought this could happen at Meechigan.

      • johnubacon

        Thank you, David and Vinny.

        Like both of you, I thought the Michigan Experience was all but bullet-proof. But in the wrong hands, it’s proven to be much more vulnerable than I thought.

        What I love about Michigan fans, and your comments speak to it, is their passion for their school and team. They know who they are, and what they want. I wish UM’s leadership did, too.


  5. Ibrahim

    Well said. I am not a fan of the new athletic director at all. What a sell out

    • johnubacon

      Apparently, you’re not alone, Ibrahim.

      If you’ll indulge me a general comment, for all: at the bottom of each column, I ask every reader to include their full name — in contrast to so much of what we see on line. I felt I had to let it slide this time, with so many comments coming in, but in the future, we’ll require that once more.

      That said, I doubt, Ibrahim, that the policy would have stopped you, or anyone below, from writing exactly what you wrote — and that’s the spirit of the rule.

      Thanks again.


  6. Robert Trombley

    Thank you John! Well said. While there is always pressure to win at Michigan, the increased prices put more emphasis on winning. You want to pay to have a winning team. If the team isn’t winning and the value you place on attending the games is all about w’s and not family friends and tradition then you won’t fill the stadium.

    This schedule is horrific and is a direct result of the money grab to add maryland and ug rutgers to the big ten. Did Brandon really believe his fan base wouldn’t care about zero high profile home games?

    • johnubacon

      Thanks, Robert.

      And you’re right: no sane coach needs the additional pressure of winning ten games or failing the entire department. (Coach Carr once spoke to this regarding the luxury suites.)

      You also make an important point: the historically horrible schedule is not apart from the greed, but a product of it. Why else did they replace BCS schools from the Bo Era for MAC teams? That’s on them, too.

      They rode on accrued good will for years, but it appears to have run out.


  7. Brian Little

    Regarding your article on how Brandon and his minions in the marketing department have ruined Michigan football is, well, simply put….EXACTLY HOW I HAVE FELT the last 3 years. You put into words what my heart and head having been feelling for over 1000 days. I admit, I am not a strong writer, and if I could have written you just submitted to the public, I would have. It is uncanny on how much you hit on that I have said verbatim to my wife sitting on the couch at home countless times watching Michigan Football. I just had a child this last year and it saddens me that at no point in the future based on cost and also disgust that I will not be able to show her a “true” Michigan football game day experience for some time for the same reasons you mentioned in the article.

    Kudos on putting out this awareness and thanks for all you do.

    Proud Alumni
    -Brian Little
    B.A. Education, School of Education
    University of Michigan 06′

    • johnubacon

      Great thanks, Brian — and as someone who left UM’s law school on the first day, then got an M.A. in Education, I appreciate your sacrifices.

      Striking how many people have echoed your comments.

      Much thanks.


  8. Todd Newman

    I agree with most of what you said. Some of it doesn’t hold water though. People are willing to pay for a premium product. Michigan football has been mediocre at best for the last 10 years. They play mediocre teams at home with mixed results. That is what is driving all the problems right now. I agree that loyalty would get you through low points in the program, and this is indeed gone now. The Packers were sold out with a 20 year wait list even when they only won 4 games a year due to loyalty. Now that there is no wait list, what is my incentive to hold my tickets this year for a weak schedule? I’ll just buy them on the street for $15/ea and except for Penn St. I may need to pony up $125 for that one. Do the math, it’s cheaper.

    I think the first come, first served thing is a bit overblown. I know the kids say they are butthurt over it, but de facto general admission works fine at most other schools.

    I’ve had season tickets for the last 25 years or so. I am thinking about dropping them as well. The root causes for me are the weak home schedule, mediocre results and increased cost due to the PSD and constant increases in ticket prices.

    • johnubacon


      Thanks for reading, and writing. I agree with you — if I read you correctly — that mediocrity alone is not the problem. It’s the combination of that with the endless money grab that erodes loyalty. Easy example: UM went 15-21 during Rodriguez’s run, and still had a wait list. The Packers are a fine example.

      I disagree that General Admission works fine at other schools. When UM announced this last spring, I slapped my forehead, because I’ve already seen it work poorly at Wisconsin, MSU and Penn State. No idea why Michigan didn’t consider that first. “Benchmarking,” anyone?


      • Ron Pippin

        John – that is the thing that confuses me most about Brandon. For all his supposed “branding” and business acumen, and all the “marketing” folks he’s added to the AD staff, how can he be getting this so wrong. A good marketing department does benchmarking, surveying and focus groups to increase customer satisfaction. The only survey’s I have seen from the AD appear to me to be set up to prove a point, rather than go outside of whatever they were already thinking and really understand the fan.

        It’s not that hard to look around and ask around and here exactly what you have said from thousands of people. Hopefully the pocketbook voting gets through to them.

        • Myles Markey

          Well Ron, you have an excellent point there and I am not talking about the one on top of your head!

    • Kelly Tousu

      I am an alum and the parent of a current student and you am have hit the nail on the head for the reasons we are disappointed with Michigan football:

      1. The prices they demand for terrible seats with no room to watch bad football. Last year sealed the deal for me on that one! Now we can afford the prices but we want to get something for it!
      2. The change in student policy which upset my daughter so much she doesn’t care that the policy changed. If she is not going why do we want to drive 5 hours?
      3. The insult in the increase in student prices – we don’t pay enough for our kids to go here – we gouge them in other ways too?
      4. This is not the only sport the AD is messing with. New rules for student basketball tickets also created a lot of rumbling. But since the games re much better, the impact was less

      The saddest part of this whole mess is that my daughter really did not hesitate to turn down the chance for tickets. 20-30 years ago I cannot imagine a Michigan student so easily passing on the experience of The Bg House.

      Brandon has not only hurt Michigan’s reputation with the current alums but has also tarnished it with the future alums. I may go to a game or two this fall but feel pretty comfortable taking the risk of driving from Chicago and buying a ticket when I get in town (ok maybe not for Penn State). Then I might actually pay the amount these tickets are really worth.

      And for the record, I have been a Packer fan for over 40 years so I do know loyalty. And I do know it should never be taken for granted!

  9. Mike Young

    I am a season ticket holder for 20 years. The last three years in name only. I sell them to a friend each year because they are beter seats then they would be able to purchase. I am an avid follower of all Michigan Sports, football being number one. I am unhappy with the direction we are currently running the athlectic programs. We have weak schedules, games played in Texas that should be home and home. Higher ticket prices, inferior product and just the overall feeling that it is about making the most money. I understand the improvements being made come at a cost but you are cutting off the hand that feeds you when you lose customers to the “Big House”. I think we continue to have a split fan base. Rich Rod was never given a chance, very little support. Brady Hoke did well his first year because he had upper class players that bought in to the system. He now has had very young teams that need experience. So once again we have a divided fan base.
    I spent the first five years moving around to different seating locations while on the wait list. I was very excited to finally have my own assigned seats. I paid my dues. Now anybody can get season tickets, owning season tickets to Michigan Football has lost it’s luster.
    I am not telling you anything that you have not already heard, but I feel better just the same voicing my opinion. Thank You

    • johnubacon

      My pleasure, Mike. Your views have been echoed by many.


      • Dan Pendergast

        As every other who has posted, my story is nothing new, however, a platform for me to vent. As a season ticket holder since the mid 70’s, I have witnessed many miracle comebacks, heart wrenching losses, and many memories with late father who passed last August. As a father myself of 2 boys, the tradition has continued. However, the last 10 years have been a challenge. As many others have stated, I am a middle class man who needs to save money throughout the year for my tickets.
        My disenchantment started about 10 years ago when the University offered a 1 time chance to change the season tickets from 1 family member to another for the mere price of $500.00, needless to say, I kept them in my fathers name, (which they still are). Then, came the license fee, it was not supposed to be for the endzones, well being in section 40, I am almost out of the endzone in the back corner, yet I still have paid this since day 1. Then the prices of the tickets have kept soaring. Then, we now have an option for seat cushions to enhance our comfort, ($35.00), and just this year, there is now a $15.00 handling charge on the season tickets….when does it end?
        As for me, I will continue the my allegiance to team, but my breaking point will be next season, when the home games should be much better, are they going to raise the prices because of a better schedule?
        Lastly, when does the University give back? When will there be a Fan Appreciation Day? (that doesn’t mean Brady Hoke giving donuts to the students)The simplest gesture would go a long way. Anyways, thanks for letting me vent. This is a great topic.

  10. Karen Miller

    Gave up my final season tickets last year. Football tix are now gone subsequent to basketball and hockey – all of which I owned for more than 35 years. Started as an employee of UM in 1971 and lived for Michigan sports. Sat through many winning seasons and a fair share of losing ones. Watched as my loyal older friends got priced out of their tickets as more and more of them retired. Then it happened to me along with renovations of facilities and “seat reassignments” mostly from decent seats that I appreciated to something in the nosebleed or obstructed sections. Now when the U fundraisers call, I say thanks – but no thanks. It’s the only mechanism I have to voice my objections.

  11. Chris Banish

    John, I couldn’t agree more. Luckily, the game day experience outside the fence hasn’t changed too much, and that’s really what keeps me going to games: tailgating with the same group of people I’ve been doing it with for 20 years. I have a feeling David Brandon will eventually find a way to ruin that too.

    • Ross Smith

      The experience outside the gate is what my group still does right. It’s worth it to deal with traffic and pay for parking to enjoy friends and the atmosphere. During the game, we walk up towards downtown and watch in bar with better cheaper food, and alcohol if we want it.

  12. Jen Lazman

    First, please don’t forget the sharp shooters being placed on the roof of the stadium gazing down at the crowds, as well as the number of police just waiting to arrest students who get out-of-line. Football is not longer about the students.

    What damage has a drunk student caused at Michigan Stadium? Other students do not really care if people are drunk, only the administration does.

    Secondly, the Regents, President and Executives of the University get to sit in their dry, warm, booths fully stocked with an array of free food, while the fans seats get smaller, tolerate the weather, ticket price get higher, and food more expensive—people are feeling used.

    • Todd Male

      Jen, your paragraph about snipers on the roof seems a bit ignorant. They’re not there for drunk students. They’re there for potential security/terrorist threats.
      I was a drunk student a long time ago. But if one of my peers got out of line, I’d sure hope the cops were there to handle. No offense but if you told me your real name was Paris Hilton I wouldn’t blink an eye.
      Bakes, your article is dead on. Dead freaking on. And it’s entirely preventable yet isn’t. Sad state of affairs.

      • Mike


        With all due respect – if there is a terrorist incident it would be a false flag, just like 9/11 and many others that followed it. These things are not done by normal people. It’s a political act done with a well defined agenda.

  13. Noah Velthouse

    Another great example of how US culture’s glorification of profit as a primary goal of every enterprise makes our country a little worse to live in every day. What would be so bad about trying to deliver a great product to your “customer”? Instead, Brandon is a great example of the corporate model of exploitation. I remember being able to detour my Saturday morning runs through the Big House and enjoy the most exciting 100 yards of my run for nothing. You can’t do that now that Dave Brandon is in charge. “The suits will buy up your fun and then charge you for it.” I won’t attend another home game until he is gone.

  14. Tyler Patrick


    I am a 5th year student at UofM and I didn’t purchase student tickets this year for many of the reasons you stated in this post. I really think you hit the nail on the head. There is a huge disconnect between the AD/Athletic Dept. and the students recently. To be honest, I feel that they simply don’t care about the students anymore, just the money. Michigan is losing it’s Big House atmosphere. My question is, where do you see things going in the next few years? Will Dave Brandon get the axe or will the focus continue to be on revenue? Thanks and once again, perfect article.

  15. Brian Kinne


    Thanks for speaking what others are only willing to think. As a Michigan-native, not even an alum, I have a HUGE love for Michigan…which is soundly rooted in the history that I’ve experienced rooting for our beloved team. When sitting around remembering that history, we ONLY talk about the moments on the field. Not the merchandies we purchased, food we ate or even the current topics of conversation. It’s about the product on the field…which is always the focus of our great history. Mr. Brandon better focus on the product on the field, not what’s in the concession stand, flying overhead or guests appearances on giant displays. Give me the winner, I remember as kid!!! Go Blue!!!

  16. GoBlur

    Thank you, this is spot on. In fact, as a fairly recent alum, I am far more upset by the massive increases in the price of student tickets than other tickets. Many of those kids already pay upwards of $45,000/year to go to school, and then you charge them $42/ticket. That is outrageous. The students are the most important fans, not because they represent the future fan base, but because they are the students at the university. Without them, there would be no school under which to organize a football team. I refuse to financially support a program that fleeces it’s students in this manner. I know he won’t read it, but I will be emailing this article to the athletic department, and hope that countless others do the same and bombard the AD with it.

  17. A J Holmgren


    To me, as a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, the most surprising misstep by the Athletic Department under David Brandon is how poorly targeted the new this new marketing is.

    There are many opportunities to market special events to wealthy donors– Alumni Association meetings, reunions, etc. As a member of the Michigan Marching Band’s Fanfare Band, I even played at many of these events. Back then, I found the idea of donating part of my future success to the University a tantalizing prospect– it felt almost like an exclusive club, that I wanted to be a part of. I hoped one day I would be in a position to give back to the University and athletic department that had given me so many wonderful memories.

    But now, after several years as just another fan in the stands, I feel like I’ve been panhandled for whatever cash I have every time I step into the stadium. From high ticket prices, to high everything else prices, instead of hoping to make a large donation to the University one day, I’m just hoping to be able to continue to attend football games without losing my shirt. That’s to say nothing of the quality of the product on the field– the putrid 2014 schedule, the diminished role of the marching band, cheerleaders, and other parts of the game day experience, etc.

    Where those big donors once felt like an exclusive club of die-hard supporters of the “good guys,” now I’m so inundated with advertisements for what those donations can get you, the luster has worn off. The advertisements are annoying– they feel like ads, which supposedly have no place in Michigan Stadium. They’re being presented to the wrong crowd, at the wrong time- shake out big donors after the game, or at an alumni tailgate, not while we’re trying to watch football. And they’ve diminished the exclusivity– perhaps an old fashioned sentiment, but I prefer the idea that large donors are rewarded by members of the athletic department in informal ways based on what they want. Right now, it feels less like a donation, and more like a menu of “rewards” presented for specific prices– and it doesn’t feel much like giving as much as buying.

    When I graduated from the University in 2011, I felt as though I had been given an amazing experience by the athletic department, and that it was my responsibility to give back. As we enter the 2014 season, I feel as though the change has been shaken from my pockets before I could even decide where I wanted it to go.

    Thank you for reading,

    A J Holmgren
    BA University of Michigan, 2011
    Michigan Marching Band, 2007-2011.

    • Chris Wysong

      AJ and John – Amen! I had the same goals when I graduated in 1988. One of my list of reasons for starting my own business (albeit, lower on the list), was to be able to donate and become a member of the then-very exclusive Victors Club. And in 1992, I achieved that goal, along with the “lifetime guarantee” of access to 4 Michigan football, 2 Michigan basketball and 2 Michigan Hockey tickets and a subscription to The Wolverine and a copy of each of these 3 sports annual media guides…oh, and a parking pass in the Blue Lot. I had made it. I had a sense of pride in my accomplishment @ such a young age.

      Now, all those guarantees have been welched on. To be fair to Brandon, Martin and others were in charge when most of the welching occurred. And I get some consideration for being a “Charter Victors Club” member in the way of additional points in the new system. But, ALL of the guarantees and the things that were included “free”, ALL of them have price tags on them today. And some of them I no longer am afforded access to…

      We’re down to attending 1 or 2 games a season. We give away the tickets to all the other games to the folks that work in our businesses. Sometimes, we cannot even give away the tickets. And this is to a population of 125 folks, most of which have never been to the Big House, nor could afford to buy tickets on their own in the past…until now when the “wait-list” is gone and you can buy tickets @ the gate for most games for $25 or less.

      And, today, if we didn’t have our family businesses, we would not own Michigan Football tickets — far too expensive. The high cost of everything in the Stadium (and the logo wear as well), it costs somewhere north of $400 for a family of 4 to attend a game!

      The time commitment for the experience is another issue: It’s a 12 hour event for our family, coming from 2.5 hours away. The only games that were worth the time and expense in the past few years were the Notre Dame games (night or day!). And now those are gone (again, to be fair, that is not solely Michigan’s fault).

      The worst of this is that I’m close to hopeless when I think of how these trends can be reversed. The AD has redefined the most hallowed name @ Michigan from “Michigan Football” – to “The Brand”. What 10 year old is going to cheer for “The Brand”?!? I don’t see much hope for the future.

  18. Nick Roumel

    You nailed it. I am just one voice but I fill out those annual surveys until I’m “Blue” in the face. They may be deaf to fans but I hope they hear you.

  19. Don Hubbard


    This statement captures my sentiments perfectly:

    “Treat your fans like customers long enough, and eventually they’ll start behaving that way, reducing their irrational love for their team to a cool-headed, dollars-and-cents decision to buy tickets or not, with no more emotional investment than deciding whether to go to the movies.”

    I am an alum (class of 1981) and have had season tickets since 1987. I live in Cleveland and made the three hour (one way) trip for the past 25 years but no more. I am tired of being gouged, tired of being treated like a number and decided to cancel my four seats this year.

  20. Chris

    Right on. Plus after decades of sitting in the same section, row, seats and making great friends at the games. The BUSINESS took my seats asked me to pick another section. Nice. If we don’t win the Big 14 this year, ship out Brandon first with Hoke riding piggy-back.

  21. Eric Steiger

    We’ve had a group of 8 seats for years…no longer. Cancelled after last year’s MSU game. Crap product on the field and an insulting home schedule. Those are the only two issues I’m worried about.

  22. Corrina Marshall

    I agree with everything and Brandon is without a doubt ruining Michigan football. Another factor, though, for this coming season specifically has to do with the schedule. The best home game this year is against Penn State. As a U of M student, it wasn’t worth it to buy tickets for games I care less about.

  23. Steve Lund

    I first got season tickets (as an alum) in 2009, thinking “buy low”. Because I don’t live in Michigan, I would choose one game to attend, and sell the rest of the tickets on Stubhub. I could usually at least break even on the other games.

    Last year, I decided not to renew my tickets. Prices kept going up, the stadium experience only declined. I don’t want to go to NFL games – I want a college experience. The Big House simply doesn’t provide that anymore with the piped-in music and constant advertising. Also, the scheduling has been terrible. For non-league games, I could not sell my tickets for even face value. Many league games, I had to sell for less than face value. Some of this is due to the state of the team, but ultimately, the folks don’t want to spend good money watching Michigan plan weak teams from lower conferences.

    For all the commercialization at the stadium, I’d rather watch the game on my couch, where I can have a nice, cold beer, go to the bathroom without a wait, and walk away during commercials.

  24. rtm

    AMEN !

  25. Jesse

    Absolutely correct. I am a grad of Michigan (’99) who was lucky to see the glory days of the 90s – I recall these days as glory days not because of the sheer awesomeness of our team (especially 97 and 99), but because the experience was so organic. The center of attention was the team and the band. There was no piped in rawk music, no ads, no box seats, no PSLs, none of that crap… It was a college experience, it was different than the NFL and because of that, we all loved it. It had soul. Now, this day in age, it seems like the AD is using the gameday experience to put their hands in our pockets, take what they want and in return, deliver to us the corporate experience. You hit the nail precisely on the head with your article. We are paying a lot more for a lot less. I will not be attending games at the Big House until this changes for the better. I will, however, continue to attend away games as there are other schools who are not selling their souls to the highest bidders and I still love Michigan Football.

  26. Matt Steketee

    Nicely penned John. Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph!

  27. Alan Woronoff

    This very sharply worded editorial is spot on. It’s so funny, most of the support for David Brandon is based on the fact that he is an ex Michigan football player and ex Michigan Regent. I have long wondered whether the Regents turn their head the other way, as well as the university president, because he is such a known commodity and large donors of University.

    His commoditization of Michigan athletics has led to a complete professionalism and disconnect. As soon as amateur athletics becomes only about the money, or mostly about the money, it stops being about the student athlete, about the experience, and frankly, Michigan football has lost much of its luster based on that greed.

    The odd thing that nobody ever talks about is that since the players are not paid, essentially our ticket prices are donations to the university to underwrite that. The personal seat license to me is such an affront and offensive abuse of the athletic department power that I have given up my season football tickets and the athletic department has never followed up as to why. Additionally, when going to development on campus or the presidents office, they all claim that they don’t control athletics. Talk about the tail wagging the proverbial dog. It’s a shame

  28. Mark

    I’m not a Michigan alum or fan. I’m a Sooner born, Sooner bred Oklahoma fan and an OU alum. Yet, your article hit home with me. Your description of Michigan gameday mirrors the unfortunate and homogenized experience in Norman.

    The things that have built CFB into this phenomenon are being cast away in the name of revenue. I go to OU football games because I want to watch OU football. It’s a part of my family’s heritage that spans back to the days of Bud Wilkinson. Now, with my own small children, the experience looks nothing like it looked for decades…and that makes me sad.

    I’m not there to listen to headbanger music blared over the PA instead of hearing the marching band. I’m not there to watch people wave at the “fan cam” on the jumbotron, which is sponsored by a regional convenience store. I’m not there to see incessant marketing and donor recognition on the field.

    I’m there because of my loyalty to my alma mater and the laundry. Yes, the laundry. Those traditional uniforms that have been the identity of this football program for my entire life on earth. Doesn’t matter who’s in them, so I don’t need to see a 20-year-old on the big screen screaming at me to get loud. I’m a Sooner and I’m already the stadium. I’m ready to cheer. Now, let me do my job and be a fan.

    In short, I’m there for the authentic experience that defined Sooner gameday since WWII.

    The marketing people’s job should be to focus on getting people to the stadium by selling their program (Michigan, OU, Nebraska, et al) and all that has built it. Then, the marketing people should sit quietly in the corner during the game and let the focus be on the game – the game and nothing else.

    Thanks for nailing this article. My hope is that it is sent to every new wave, businessman CEO who is killing the spirit and authenticity that made this sport what it is.

  29. Douglas Weber

    This exactly why I gave up my season tickets last year after 21 years. When Brandon jacked up the PSL to currents rates (my seats were in the second to highest PSL area), it was longer worth it to pay the prices being demanded for the product being put on the field, both in terms of opponents and the home team. The “experience” was no longer enough to justify the cost. I wrote a lengthy letter to Brandon explaining why I was terminating my season tickets, outlining many of the points you set forth here. One of his staff contcated to discuss it and tried to persuade me other wise, even offering me tickets in the end zone. Why would take lesser tickets at this point. I said unless you want to reduce the price, its not worth it to me. Its unfortunate because Michigan football was truly a passion for me and I loved going to the games, but enough is enough. I can enjoy watching the games on my HD TV and not have to stand in line for the bathroom for free (so to speak).

  30. Dave alter

    Amen Brother Bacon!
    I did notice the flood of emails and FB postings about packages and deals for tickets! And wondered if that was the cause.

    Maybe our football problems aren’t Brady, running or passing but Brandon
    Serves them right!

  31. Paul Schmidt

    I do not agree. A strong home schedule and winning solves everything.

    If we had MSU or OSU on the schedule and the team was a power house, the tickets would be a non-issue.

    • Louis

      You’re not paying attention to most fans.

    • Heather

      I am sorry but a good the schedule and the score does not make college football. I can remember having the best time at the stadium with a loss. It was the band, the crowd, Bo, Carr, the team and the way the team would come together. I am a college football fan. I am not a pro fan because it is about the money, having product thrown in my face, fancy singers/celebrities. Unfortunately I am not seeing the difference anymore.

      The other big point is cost and emphasis on getting more consideration based on the money you give.
      I have been going since I was 11. I watched every away game at home with my dad and grandpa waiting for the day I was old enough to join them at the big house. I purchased those same four seats when I was old enough and couldn’t wait to share the love and memories of those games with my kids (over 30 years those seats have been in my family). I started to take my kids when they were under 2. Now I take them to away games. The big house is just not the same.

      My daughter is requesting to go to the Northwestern Games because the experience there is so much better. I have moved from the state, kept my tickets and would look forward to those crazy football weekend when we would travel back for a game (about 3 a season). Our longest distance from home was 9 hours one way. It didn’t matter. Now it does. Every year I debate if I can afford the tickets, the travel and for what. Where is the free roster magazine, the marching band, the cheerleaders, the wave in the third quarter, the helmet and what it stood for. That’s what I want.

      Every year I am so close to giving them up. It is the memory of my days with my Grandfather and Dad that keep me buying, not what is going on at the big house. But I know they would disagree with the cost and the focus on money, and that will end up winning.

      • Edward J. Thomas

        Hi Heather. I would like to start off by saying that I am a huge Northwestern fan and seeing that your daughter loves the experience (let’s be honest, it’s the best) just tickles me pink. But, even though I have never like Michigan football, I have always had the utmost respect for it’s tradition of producing excellent players and excellent teams, backed by a phenomenal fan-base. I have always considered Michigan fans to be among the most passionate and loyal in all of college football so it deeply saddens me, even as someone who bleeds purple, to see that D. Brandon has made such a hot mess of Michigan football that even Michigan fans want nothing to do with it anymore. I think it also speaks volumes to the integrity of Michigan fans that I have not seen one person say anything along the lines of “yay, more season tickets for me!” I am very sorry that such a storied program got saddled with some corporate necktie who just has no clue. You guys deserve so much better. Here’s hoping for a brighter future for both of our teams.

      • Steven

        I graduated from UM in 1982 and immediately went to grad school at Northwestern. I was there when NU broke that long losing streak. I helped toss the goalposts into Lake Michigan. Such a great experience, compared to the disbelief we all felt when UM lost to South Carolina (before it joined the SEC and started regularly kicking butt) a year or two earlier. For a while I rooted for both teams, but after 1995 I cheer exclusively for the Wildcats. Somehow NU has managed to stay special, but UM has just lost its way. I fully expect NU to return to the Rose Bowl before Michigan… but I doubt I’ll go. The Rose Bowl also doesn’t feel special any more. Non-Big Ten teams just don’t belong there.

  32. Phil Hemenway

    Hi John, My concern…I don’t go to football games, but I do go to see UM hockey, and what I witness is the same thing in a slightly smaller way, Ads on the scoreboard and during intermissions, like at “The Joe, add to that dubious seat reassignments and higher prices.

    I went to see the UM Alumni LaCross tournament last year to watch an old friend compete and the spectators and players families were treated like fence jumpers. As soon as the game ended everyone, players included, were herded out of the stadium by a gang surley staff…want to take a picture with your kids or loved ones on the field…forget it! Use the parking lot.

    I felt as unwelcome as a fan could be made to. Things have changed.

  33. Brandon Kling

    Although I do agree that things are getting out of control in the greed aka “athletic” department… I think an overriding factor in all of this is the product on the field. For all the problems with higher prices, seat re-arrangements, advertisements… I think as little as two or three really good years of football can overcome all of that. People will be excited again about coming to the Big House to watch UofM crush Ohio or State. The problem is… that hasn’t happened a lot lately. Go Blue!

  34. Jeremy

    When you have a mediocre product, run by a mediocre coach, and your two biggest rivals are beating you down year in and year out, what do you expect?

    • Louis

      Year in and year out? What does MSU have a “streak of one win over UM? Sorry, that is not the concern. Michigan has suffered through bad football stretches before, but never saw the fall of in ticket interest until the event stopped being a “college” environment.

      Look at ND, they have had some horrible years and they have been beaten down by UM and USC in consecutive years, but they still sell out every game. Why? It is an event. It is a shrine. It is not just a snazzy Super Bowl site.

      • Peter Graham, MD


        MSU has won 5 of the last 6, and they weren’t even close. UM won a nail biter in 2012 against the weakest Spartan team that Dantonio has fielded to date. I’d say that’s getting owned, and it’s only likely to continue.

        The Buckeyes have won 9 of the last 10, many of them absolute laughers.

        Michigan Football is an anemic shell of it’s former self. I don’t disagree that the corporatizing, dumbing-down of the stadium experience, and treating long-time fans like toilet paper has hurt ticket sales. But don’t underestimate just how much losing, or mediocrity, can impact a team’s following.

      • Mark


        The most nauseating thing about all of this is the fact that the college football experience is all changing in the exact same way. You mentioned Notre Dame.

        Well, they’re embracing all of the exact same crap that’s happening on Ann Arbor, Norman, Lincoln and other places. The Irish now pipes in music, limits their band, changed the helmet, done away with students painting the helmets, totally altered the team walk to the stadium and have now REPLACED THEIR HALLOWED GRASS! When Notre Dame and Michigan does those kinds of things, then all of CFB is doomed to become nothing more than another professional sport.

  35. Robert Scott

    I agree with the student seating issue – but I think there’s a second factor besides sitting with friends. Those who care the least about football, are less interested in coming now. If you’re only half interested, and now when you show up at kickoff, you’re in the nose bleed seats, of course you won’t show. Even if you are with your best friends. Some may say less, but more dedicated students is a good thing. I don’t agree. Part of fanaticism is the shared community, and the more encouraged to come the stronger the program. Not to mention, tailgating is part of the tradition and experience, and it’s hurt by the rush to get in early.

  36. Louis

    Brandon’s athletic department has almost completely ignored Michigan tradition and worked hard to squeeze every last penny out of fans. A couple things that the article did not mention:

    1. Despite increasing revenue, he initialy refused to take the band to a big game in Texas against Bama. Eventually, he relented to public opinion.

    2. He banned water bottles in the stadium, but after he first introduced it, he had to wait a year because of the fan backlash.

    3. He tired to ban seat cushions in an thinly-veiled effort to increase revenue through “leased” cushions. The public reached out to his office and he slinked away from the idea.

    If you are a Michigan fan, chances are Brandon has tried to push you to the brink in some way. It is him versus the fan. Isn’t that odd?

  37. Tim Smith


    You got this one wrong for the most part. Many of the comments may be supportive and congratulatory, in the end however, you are pandering to your readership as much as Brandon is pandering to the money.

    People feel burnt on Michigan football. Why shouldn’t they. Michigan of the last decade is not performing to the expectations of the previous 30 years. But take it back another 10 years and you are back in the non sellout days of Meeechigan gridiron infamy. Same Bob Ufer, same school and traditions but something was different back then. Hmm… what could it be?

    Oh yeah…they didn’t win. At least not year in year out. In 64 they did… but that was the second lowest home attendance of that decade. It’s about the wins John. If they win… this article doesn’t happen. If they win then Dave Brandon is a genius.

    There are many issues with our team and school. All of them are contained within the issues of our time and country. You have made a huge effort to tell the story of the Rich Rod / Lloyd Carr debacle that has brought us mediocre ball. Kudos to you and shame on Michigan for giving you grief. But don’t pretend that Dave Brandon is the devil here. The details just don’t compute.

    These ticket, hospitality and merchandise rates match tuition hikes over the glory days of Michigan football… in fact they lag them. If students want to complain about money – they can start there. Our country can start there. There are greater issues than the glory days to whine about.

    If we are going to criticize Brandon let’s start first with his football decisions because that is where it hits the fan.

    I think you are missing the story here and pandering to alums who as a schismatic grouping have done nothing over the last decade except look for scapegoats.

    Go Blue!

    Tim Smith
    Class of ’87

  38. Matt

    Someone had to say it, but no one could put it as well as you did. Thank you. And what’s worse is that David Brandon is not only an alum but a former player. He should “get it,” but he cares more about the bottom line. I’ve always been convinced that Bill Martin knew next to nothing about college athletics but understood it as a business and did a good job as athletic director because of that. He respected the fans; Brandon seems to see himself as above all of us.

  39. Pat Friedrich

    John, I think that you pretty much nailed it. One of my former bosses had an expression that I believe applies here: “Pigs get et.” It’s sad to see the results of all of Cahnam’s efforts dissolving in a solvent of arrogance, greed and incompetence. I can almost hear Bo scowling from the beyond “Brandon, if it weren’t for Drew Sharp, you would be the dumbest man in the United States of America.” Although, what do expect from a crew that trumpets a “Team 135” that will be playing Michigan’s 137th season against outside opponents?

  40. Alex

    Who ever decided to have the MSU and OSU games away should be fired. Students aren’t buying tickets because there are no games worth going to. The Penn State night game is a shitty attempt to replace the ND game and the MSU game we should be having at home this year. And watch, all ticket prices will go up next year because MSU and OSU will be home games.

    • Pat Friedrich

      Alex, in fairness to the athletic department, Michigan does not control their conference schedule. That schedule is arranged by the Big Ten. Further, the athletic department had no control over Notre Dame’s decision to cancel the 2015-2017 games. I’m not sure how this year’s night game Penn State qualifies as an attempt to replace the ND game. Michigan plays ND this year and that game was never scheduled to be in Ann Arbor. I think that scheduling Penn State as a night game was the best way to play the cards that Michigan had been dealt. I suspect that you will proven correct about next year’s ticket prices.

  41. Mark Bargovan


    You have put in to words what exactly went in to my decision not to renew my two season tickets this go around. My streak of 22 years as a season ticket holder has ended. It seems like this was the only way to get the message that fans of Michigan Football are more than customers.

    Go Blue.

  42. Mike Walsh

    You’re still just mad because he took your press pass. #SMDH

  43. Dave

    Why has student attendance dropped? #1, the students are not fans. If you are a fan, you will go. But, instead of admitting highly qualified in state students, who’s parent went there, who have been to spring games since age 6, who have gone out of their way to meet Desmond, and Denard…they might not have been admitted because they do not provide the larger out-of-state or intenational tuition rates. Greed, yes, but more so the Admissions office than Brandan. And who is likely to be a season ticket holder as an adult, a donor, etc.? That is the #1 reason. A fan will find a way to go. My roommate and I went to all the football, basketball (during a down period), even baseball and track events.

    • Tom

      This is it.

      Michigan football has performed poorly, and everything stems from that. Hot dog prices? Give us a break, Mr. Bacon. Hot dogs cost a small fortune in every stadium in the world, and every one that is purchased is also complained about, but we buy them nonetheless, so long as we are at the stadium. And the chief reason for being I’m the stadium is to watch our team win.

      If we win, this discussion isn’t only irrelevant, but it doesn’t even occur. Before Bo, we had an empty stadium. Bo won prodigiously, and the stadium filled.

      It is all about performance. Look at the basketball team. Crisler is filled to the rafters. This at what is undoubtedly a football school, very recently removed from a stretch of terrible basketball that lasted a very long time. Just win.

      • Carl

        Dave, you could not be more wrong about your opinion. I was an out of state student who moved to Michigan to get cheaper tuition. The fact is that it is much easier to get into U of M as an in-state resident, and that slightly over half of the undergrad school is from the state of Michigan. We are great fans and my freshman year Michigan football was best not because the team went 11-2 but because it was before they started removing traditions. The open seating was the dumbest move ever no students like it at all. We can no longer tailgate or go to pre-game parties if you want a decent seat. We can’t afford to buy food or drinks at the game because of the ridiculous prices, plus they have increased student ticket prices each year. Literally every single change that they have made since I arrived here, has had a negative effect on the whole experience of Michigan Football from a student and lifelong fan’s view.

    • Cooper

      This comment is completely off base. For starters, it assumes that admissions even care what the Athletic Department does, or worse, that the AD should dictate how a world renowned University selects its student pool. But more importantly, the premise just isn’t true. Students who attend from New York or Pennsylvania or North Dakota (in my case) BECOME Michigan fans by virtue of them attending Michigan. It’s part of the college experience. And it’s one of the reasons we have a global alumni network that we cherish so much. But Michigan has been accepting a high proportion of out-of-state students for a long time, because it’s such a good school. But this apathy problem is a relatively recent one, and it’s a trend at several major universities across the country. Not just ours. So maybe Brandon isn’t totally to blame if it is a national trend, but he’s definitely changed the culture in a less than desirable way.

      • Dave

        How is the comment off base? I am exmpaining the #1 reason why student attendance has dropped. They don’t care enough to walk 1/2 mile on a Saturday afternoon. Do Green Bay Packer fans stay away if the weather is not conveient. If students cared enough, they would attend. And, in aggregate, out of state residents would tend not to care as much. Sure there are exceptions….they are the ones reading John U. Bacon on line. I am explaining the cause, not speaking for my case. I am not saying admissions cares about what the athletic department does, but if this is such an issue, let’s find out why. And then choose to address it, or not. How about a simple survey to see what the difference might be?

        For non-students, the reasons are #1 price, #2 lack on seating comfort, difficult to move around, use the restrooms, etc. I don’t know how the 60+ crowd does it.

    • Mike Walsh

      I commend you, Dave. We need more true Blue fans like you. When I was there, I was a regular at all of the softball, soccer, field hockey, water polo and badminton games cheering Big Blue on.

    • Kelly

      I have to disagree with you about out of state students not being fans. My sister was admitted out of state and was an indifferent college football fan until she went to Michigan. She got season tickets and went to every home game in her four years there. She’d love to go back to Ann Arbor or watch UM play on the road in the future once UM gets a competitive B10 schedule. She’s already made plans to attend the UM-Wisconsin game in Ann Arbor in October 2016 with cost being no concern.

      I think the problem is the scheduling. It’s not unique to UM. Wisconsin fans are also not pleased with the next two years of football schedules. You know that people are displeased with the schedule when a cousin plans her wedding on the same date as a home football game and can expect the season ticket holders to go to the wedding instead of Camp Randall. It’s simply not enough to have easy wins – fans want to see good, competitive games against the core B10 games.

    • Evab


      With all due respect, you’re wrong. I’m both a U-M grad (LSA ’90) and from out-of-state and my friends and I watch together often and travel to games. I knew a lot of out-of-state kids when I was in Ann Arbor and they were as die-hard as the in-staters. Some even chose U-M, in part, because of those traditions. Mediocre teams plus overcharging plus everything else drives away people, not admitting out-of-state students.

  44. Chris Todd

    John is 100% correct with this article. We all know the real reasons why attendance is declining; however, Mr. Brandon’s job is to create and increase revenue for the football and athletic departments. This is exactly what he is doing short term. Unfortunately it is at the expense of long standing traditions and what Michigan football was built on 45 years ago. The long term repercussions may prove to be too much of a hurdle to overcome down the road if the Wolverines continue to be a mediocre team and fail to schedule top notch home games against either quality or of name brand interest teams.

  45. William Jacobs

    The biggest problem is the lack of
    a rivalry game this year. No ND, MSU
    or OSU. One of those games alone
    could pay for the entire season tickets.

    You can get into the early garbage games
    for almost free via scalpels.

    Without a marquee game it’s really
    almost stupid to pay full price for season

    • Tommy Carter

      I agree completely!

  46. Rob Jablonski

    I agree with you, John, but I have to say that putting every game on HDTV has had an effect on the gadget generation. Why roll out of bed for a noon game when you can watch it in HD in your jammies? Bo worried about the overexposure of college football in the 80s. If you give it away, who will pay for it?

  47. Neil Mack

    I always believed I was the “greatest MI fan in the world”, never missed a game in nearly 35 years. For years, I was the guy buying from the scalpers and other sellers at game time….. Then had a family and needed 4 seats together. I finally met an older gentleman in 1993 who was giving up his season tickets. I talked him into selling them to me each year.

    After he died, my arrangement continued for 20 years with his extended family, all were MI alumni and we got along great. They all owned at least 50 other seats in the same section and rows, most never missing a game for as long as they lived. Within the past 4 years, all of the comradship and loyalty from them is long gone. Last year, there was 2 families left, only myself (4 seats) and one other with 4 seats. The rest had been priced out. This year I also gave up. Just can’t afford it any longer.

    You bring people to a game. This was the cost for 4 of us, not counting the up front season ticket cost?

    Parking – $40,
    Hotdogs and a drink upon arrival – $56.
    2 t-shirts and 2 hats for the kids – $70.
    Pizza at halftime & 4 drinks – $65.
    Program $10.
    Kettle Korn plus drinks again – $34

    Total = $275 per game for the family……

    No longer are we able to afford this.

    You need to be earning a 6 digit income to afford the “experience”.

    • Wolverine Devotee

      Not trying to sound like a jerk, but that’s a ridiculous amount of food for one game.

      Go to Comerica, Ford Field, Joe Louis and you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for all of that stuff. Go to any other college venue, and the same thing will happen.

      If you cut back to one set of drinks and cut out the gamely merch, you’ll spend a lot less.

      Also: Michigan does NOT set the prices for concessions. The prices are set by Sodexo, the France-based service company that oversees all concessions around the stadium. Other B1G schools have them as well.

  48. Jason

    Brandon trying to make each football Saturday at Michigan Stadium the Super Bowl is completely off target. Each Michigan Football game was like going to church. There were traditions. Things were passed down from father to son. The music was highly integral to the experience. There were no ads.

    The game day experience sucks and Brandon is entirely to blame. The sooner Brandon is fired like he was from Vlassis (the CEO gig he had before Domino’s, which is the CEO gig he had where he had to admit on national TV that the product they sold to customers was garbage), the sooner things will get back to where they should be, starting with a football that doesn’t just quote the historic accomplishments of the teams that came before, but adds to those accomplishments.

  49. Peter Sai;

    Thank you saying what needed to be said! It’s still real to me dammit!

  50. John Salva

    In addition to those reasons…

    We aren’t very good at football as of recent.

    Brandons TV arguement is valid though. Instead of buying $300+ tickets last season I bought a $300 flat screen. That way I could watch the games home AND away… with my cheap popcorn, $5 Hot N Ready, and 3 of my friends.

  51. Kris

    Dave thank you for speaking up about this problem. I am a UM grad and former UM employee and had been a fan for 40 yrs. I decided not to renew the season tickets I had for 30 yrs. last year. The continual price increases and the PSL fees finally finished me. The inflation rate of the tickets was 30% higher than my wage increases! Going to the games just wasn’t fun anymore. I couldn’t even sell the tickets to the games I couldn’t go to. Then when they “moved me” to a different section I decided I’d rather watch the game on my couch.
    I hope Dave B sees your article and thinks about all the comments following the article.

  52. john w minton jr

    John, Thanks for fighting the good fight, win or lose.

    After the Rose Bowl season of 1968, Ohio State jumped on the “screw the loyal OSU fans bandwagon” and started a program of giving the fats cats priority over long term season ticket holders. George Staten, the director of ticket sales, responded by resigning, saying that it wasn’t fair to people who supported the team through the lean years.

    As a former boss of mine said “after a while the baloney resists the grinder.” In due time, football fans will
    disappear the same way boxing and horse racing fans did.
    It may take a very long time, but it will happen.


  53. John

    I got my first season tickets as a freshman in 1965. They were 13 bucks……for the season. The games were all on Saturday at 1 PM. Very few were on TV. The atmosphere in and around the stadium (it wasn’t the Big House then) was amazing. The game, the band, the winged helmets, sitting with friends, real BIG 10 opponents, Doc Losh and the banner. You didn’t want to miss it. And only on very rare occasions have I missed it in all the years since. Now as I find myself sitting in the cold and rain waiting for some guy in a red hat to get the heck off the field, I feel unappreciated and tend to wonder what I’m doing in MY stadium.

  54. Tony Karman

    As usual, you nail it right on the head, JOhn. The fact that Brand-on has turned a once-sacred place and event into what now feels like a corporately diluted, gimmick-filled minor league baseball game on a Tuesday night makes me seriously question whether I’ll be a ticket holder in that stadium long enough–or even beyond this rancidly pathetic home schedule season–to pass what traditions we USED TO HAVE down to my future kids, just as my father did to me, and his father to him.

  55. Mike Humphry

    I’m a Buckeye fan that can relate … I fear we are headed down the same path. Hopefully sanity will prevail before the true fans lose all attachment to the traditions and rivalry. Well written article that should give all college football fans reason to pause. Go Bucks!

    • johnubacon

      Much thanks, Mike. As I felt writing my latest book, on this score, we’re all fighting the same fight — Lions, Buckeyes, Spartans, and Wolverines. We’re trying to preserve something we’ve loved for a long time — including the rivalries.

      The fact that this one has been picked up by fans of OSU, MSU, PSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma and more says something about the state of the game.

      Here’s hoping some common sense rules the day — but don’t bet on it!


  56. EB

    That was a lot of thoughtful analysis. But, curiously missing is the fact that the football team sucks.

  57. Bill Wilson

    John: This is your best posting, you are spot-on, articulating what I think every Michigan fan thinks: David Brandon would sell his mother’s wedding ring. He’s driven me away, and I’ve been a fan for 55 years. The whole thing now is pure schlock, which might be good for pizzas, or for the Leverage Buyout guys at Bain that he worships, but not good for students and regular Michigan people.

  58. John Rogers

    Well written. I can see it now: Brandon will
    guarantee a Michigan football game will be
    played in 30 minutes or less or your ticket
    price will be refunded.

    • Mario Sulaksana

      haha best comment on here so far!

  59. Tom Dirlam

    My father graduated from Michigan business school in 1958. After he had kids, we would go to every home game. I remember the pre-Bo days and that stadium being nearly empty. As he became more successful he bought season tickets. My father missed 2 home games in 53 years. Two. One to get married and the other to see his sister get married. All of his kids were warned NOT to get married on a U-M home date or he would not be there. And he meant it. He quit going in 2011. He felt U-M football has become so commercialized it was no longer enjoyable. I took the tickets. I have decided that, at a minimum, I will reduce them from five to three next year and may, after the season, decide to eliminate them all. Why? Cost. Not internet (which is horrible). Not TV. Solely rising seat costs. Apparently Brandon feels there are enough corporations out there who will scoop up tickets regardless of cost and send their customers. I certainly hope so for Michigan’s sake.

  60. Tommy Carter


    I am a student at Michigan and while many of your points are valid I think you might have overstepped the main issue. My friends and I did not buy tickets for next year because of the seating changing or because of the prices. While the seating does suck and the prices are too high, the real issue is that schedule is complete garbage. No one wants to go watch our lackluster football team play a bunch of crappy teams. If the schedule was good I think sales would be basically the same. Fans aren’t stupid and we would rather not pay to watch a crummy product.

  61. Sherrie

    As an Ohio State alum (yeah, yeah…) who has enjoyed going up to Ann Arbor in the past for The Game, this article strikes me as both true and tragic. The game day environment at UM used to be one of the best in college sports and now it simply feels tired sold out. I really hope changes are made for the benefit of not just the fans, but those of us who like rooting against you, too. 😉

  62. Blair Yonkoski

    I think you are all missing the point. The revenue from football supports every other varsity sport at the university. Hundreds of thousands of student athletes over the years have been able to graduate from the University of Michigan and compete at the collegiate level in a sport that they love. The funding for every plane ticket, hotel room, pair of shoes, etc is paid for by football.

    Additionally, the games are way more entertaining now to han they were 10 years ago.

    Let supply and demand work themselves out. If you think it is too expensive, don’t go to the game and don’t complain. You are not entitled to cheep tickets.

  63. Ben Palmer

    All you have to do is simply look at the economics of it. Brandon can blame phones and tv as the reasoning behind the decrease in demand for tickets but simple economics tell us that should mean that ticket prices should be going DOWN not UP! He can give any excuse he wants but it’s obvious that all he cares about is maximizing revenue not making fans happy.

  64. Wolverine Devotee

    The prices may be ridiculously high, but NOTHING will stop me from going to games.

    Call me one of those DB is targeting, but if seven days a year I spend a ridiculous amount of money, so be it. Michigan Football is worth it.

  65. Jim

    FANTASTIC article.

    This is happening all over college football and it’s sad.

    Greed WILL bring down college football. It’s only a matter of time. Between the ads in the stadiums and the outrageous TV contracts, football is just one big commercial interrupted, once in a while, by a game.

    I got rid of cable in 1999, because I wasn’t going to pay ESPN one more cent.

  66. Duane

    The loud music between every play, or at any stoppage of play regardless of the sport, is extremely annoying and degrades the experience for me. I took my kid to a Pistons game, and he and I could never sit there and talk to each other. If there was going to be conversation, it would require yelling in each other’s ear. I swore I would never go to another of those games, and never have. That was four years ago.

    There is a strange philosophy in sports these days that people must be constantly and actively entertained at any pause in the action. I asked a venue about it once, and the answer was that all the other venues do it.

  67. Crystal

    Thanks for the article John. As a current student reading through the comments, I realized that I didn’t know the Big House before the ads, before the music, before PSLs and $300 tickets. Well, maybe one year of $195 tickets. But now it’s just not worth it. As a student when we paid $200 for tickets you could easily get that back by selling the home notre dame, michigan state, or ohio state games. Now the notre dame series is over for the foreseeable future, the best game next season is Penn st. And the tickets are $300. If I tried to sell them I wouldn’t make that back this season at all. The constantly changing seating policies are killing michigan football as well. Four different policies in four years! No wonder we aren’t buying tickets. Herded around and harassed, we can’t even move between sections to find other friends if they ended up in the wrong section, overpriced food and drinks so I’m tempted to bring flasks of water just to stay hydrated without paying $5 for water. I will buy season tickets my senior year, but after that…I’ll probably just stay home.

  68. Stacey

    AND, to top it off, this year neither MSU or OSU are home games. That’s just not right.

  69. Bill Kelley

    Look at the home schedule. I bought my season tickets at least partly out of habit, and am regretting it. I’ve had these tickets for over 30 years, but the cost is becoming too much.
    One of the first things Canham did was to look at having both MSU & OSU either home or away each year. He made sure that UM played either MSU or OSU at home each year. Now we’re back to both away this year, both home next year and so on. What kind of fool is Brandon to let this happen?

    • Andy Kellow

      Technically, Brandon didn’t allow that to happen as he doesn’t have control over the conference schedule. However, he (along with the other B1G Athletic Directors) can take some blame as the whole schedule was thrown out of whack because the B1G direly needed the revenue from BTN going into the New York and Washington/Baltimore markets. Since apparently everyone in the division HAD to play at one of the newcomers (both Maryland and Rutgers are in Michigan’s division) the schedule got messed up. As for non-conference, hopefully the playoff format will reward strong scheduling and will bring some better quality opposition to the Big House.

      I went to the Northwestern game at the Big House 2 years ago, and it sure didn’t feel like a Michigan game that I remember. The in-stadium vibe felt more like minor-league baseball with constant promos and pumped in rock music. Watching college football on TV, sadly, this is more the rule than the exception.

  70. Jeff

    so the losing and the fact that michigan is not an elite program anymore has nothing to do with it? michigan stadium was empty in the 60’s. packed in the 70’s. was that all canham and his “genius” marketing skills? nothing to do with bo creating an elite program in the 70’s? come on. win, and everything you say in your article, nobody cares about. lose and everyone is looking for reasons not to go to games and complain. especially when they are used to winning. canham is nothing without bo winning games and being bo. if bo put out teams like rich rod and hoke’s last two, canham would not be remembered like he is today. bo made canham. canham didn’t make michigan elite and a national brand. winning at a place like michigan fills seats. price is a non-factor at michihgan when you win big. michigan has been an awful team by their standards since 2008 and now fans are not showing up to games and complaining about prices. what a shock.

    you hate david brandon. we all get it. maybe he should put a donate button like you have for your blog on

    you always reference bill martin. bill martin made the stupidest decision in michigan history by bringing in rich rod. not because he was a bad coach but because his style was a complete mismatch for michigan and the roster we had. martin single handidly tried to change michigan football by changing the style which made it great. he botched a coaching search. that is where the problem started and michigan has yet to recover. blame brandon and his pricing and marketing tactics all you want. martin is a big part of the reason for the demise. canham is always recognized for his marketing skills which is a small part of his greatness. what he was great at was identifying great coaches. that is the only skill an AD at michigan needs. once you hire a good coach at michigan, everything takes care of itself. the money and fans will follow. period. end of story.

    • Kelvin Adams

      Only one who’s gotten it right so far in my opinion, Jeff.

      • Don Brooks

        I think you are wrong there Jeff and others who think it was all about the wins.

        Canham sold Michigan Football as a game day experience. Back in those days they sent out color brochures to residents of Ann Arbor and anybody on their mailing list, with pictures of families tailgating and at the game, the band and the action. Intentionally (according to Canham), they NEVER MENTIONED WINS OR CHAMPIONSHIPS. They weren’t guaranteeing those, because they couldn’t guarantee wins. They wanted to ensure a great experience- including pregame, postgame, halftime, the band, etc.- regardless of the outcome.

        They opened the Golf Course for parking to encourage tailgating for groups and families in a great atmosphere. Great photos.

        Early on, Boy Scouts were honorary ushers, and general admission tickets for high school and junior high school students were sold at student ticket prices – something like $3(!).

        The idea was to build future generations of fans who were hooked on the experience, and would grow up to become season ticket holders. It worked.

  71. Jim Meno


    Once again you are spot on with your points. Brandon has turned this into his own business and shame on the University for empowering him to this level.

    Next please write on the cost of tuition, room and board for an out of state student that in 2005-2006 was +/-$28,000 and this year will approach $55,000. Brandon is not the only one guilty of price gouging.

  72. Brian Cannon


    Your blog post hits on a lot of good points. Another major point that I have heard from other season ticket holders is that 2014 is the worst home schedule in memory.

    Appalachian State – nothing is gained by playing this game, and we know a lot can be lost.

    Miami, OH – classic MAC matchup, but anything less than a blowout is a disappointment.

    Utah – this is the best non-conference home game and another opportunity to avenge a bad program loss at home.

    Big 10 games of Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana, and Maryland are a major disappointment. Hosting Indiana two years in a row and playing at Michigan State two years in row is a big downer that Brandon shout have fought tooth and nail. Usually the last home game is something meaningful. Is Maryland a can’t miss game? I think not.

    The athletic department has no problem increasing seat license fees and season ticket prices, but for what? The fans do not get to see one Top 25 team come to the Big House. Is this a good use of the biggest stadium in the country? The answer is a big fat no, as the fans have spoken. Stop worrying about cell phones and put a matchup on the field that someone gives a rip about!

  73. John


    Well written and spot on.

    A neighborhood business owner I am friends with in Clarkston was a season ticket holder since 1946. He had 8 seats, a few years ago, he got tired of the seat licensing, cut down to 4 seats. In 2014, he has no seats, he is done.

    Another fiend of mine had 8 seats since 1967, he also cut down to 4 seats a few years ago. He is seriously thinking about giving up those 4 as well.

    This is not U-M specific, this is a college football problem. When you keep coming to the ticket holders for cash, they will eventually break.

    What is more insulting is charging them $75 to see a team like Utah State, and $300 to see Notre Dame. Tickets used to be uniform across the season, it was bad enough scalpers raped people for rivalries, now universities are doing it too.

    AD’s need to realize it is a chore to go to these games. You spend hundreds on tailgating supplies, parking and time and gas to get there, not counting the ticket cost. It is a 24 hour experience and a 24 hour expense just to get there.

    Something has to change, this business model is failing fast.

  74. K

    From a recent graduate and pissed off Wolverine, thank you for this, Mr. Bacon. It’s time for a change at the top, and I’m not talking about Brady. Forever Go Blue,

    BS, Political Science
    Class of 2014

  75. Mark Copeland

    John, you are nailing it here. It’s not brilliance on your part, it’s just common sense (though you are brilliant). One of the things that used to be great about Michigan games is that you saw people from all over, all walks of life together watching the game. But not it feels as if a person like me, a working class hospital worker from Detroit, is not welcome there anymore. They want big money people, they want a country club atmosphere. All the bells and whistles I can do without. I am so beaten over the head with marketing all day everyday I would like to escape it a little bit on a Saturday. I don’t need Beyonce to enhance the experience. If I want that I will go see her in concert. It used to be that regular folks could save enough money to go to 6 or 7 games a year and maybe even spring for one road trip. But now we are being priced out. Seems like Lord Brandon heard the term “Walmart Wolverine” and decided to put a stop to it. A few years ago the season opened on an opressively hot day against Western. Despite the sweat (and I am a heavy guy I sweat easily) I sat in that hot metal bowl. Then the torrent came….I stayed out there, the players got sent to the locker room. Then they came back and the lighting started and again, I stayed until they called the game. I was a dedicated fan, sitting in a bowl full of metal surrounded by antennas in a lightning storm couldn’t keep me away. But treating me like an outcast will do it. I wonder when they will lower the boom on WTKA because one of the hosts isn’t buying with Lord Brandon is selling.

  76. Jamie Gasior

    JUB is a well known teetered sort. His rants while well articulated, sum to small unreferenced half truths. Every AD is up against the same duality, the only delta is a failure to launch.
    Michigan will never collude with the hypocrisy represented in mainstream college football where students balance the ledger. It’s just not realistic. There’s a reason the stadium mods included 500+ suite level access.

    There’s a cynical lexicon that suggests programs like Michigan, LSU or Bama have no boundaries with common folk I.E. Fans et al however only time will tell.
    I’ll argue that in time we’ll always continue; f**** you, we’re Michigan! Great debate that warrants a long thread 😉

  77. Charles Douglas

    John you have mostly nailed this issue. I hope the Athletic Department is reading.

    One quibble: the problem with student attendance at football games never seemed to be with ticket prices. Because what we have seen in recent years is that lots of student tickets were SOLD, but many of those student ticket purchasers were then no-shows. Or late-arrivals. Or early-departures. We need an explanation from the poor cash-strapped students who purchased season football tickets for a much better deal than what I get, only to become no-shows with those tickets in their pockets.

    There is another, recent, curious aspect to student attendance. It seems that the most-coveted student-section tickets are not those closest to the 50 yard line (the old “senior section” from our student days). Rather, the most-desired part of the Stadium for current students are the front rows in the northwest corner. Where viewing of the game has to be secondary to whatever else that experience offers. Row B of Section 31 is probably a great place to get your face on a tv broadcast (or to make selfie videos on your smartphone); it is not a great place to see the football game.

    So those choices (buying tickets but not showing, showing up largely for the non-football party) are being made voluntarily by students. It is pretty stark, to see non-student seats fill up faithfully week after week, when the student section is half-empty. Those are sold, paid-for tickets in the student section that appear on game days as empty seats. In other words, Brandon is at least partly right when he suggests that this is a student behavioral issue that is beyond his direct control. Perhaps it is a cultural problem that is occurring at other places like Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia and Florida. It is not much happening at Ohio State, I can tell you, from having been there myself for a couple of their home games in each of the last three years.

    The ironic solution might actually be to increase prices for Michigan students. The people paying the freight in the high-dollar PSD sections are attending. They paid dearly for their tickets, and they seem to use them faithfully. Although you have it exactly right and beautifully stated, John, when you suggest that “[t]ickets used to be underpriced, and you knew that when you scalped them for more than you paid. Now they’re overpriced, and you know that when you try to sell them through Michigan’s Official Scalper, Stubhub, and get far less.”

    One more quibble: Let’s face it, the Big Ten conference’s cramdown of our having to flip our home game with MSU to odd-numbered years (with Ohio State) is a disaster for Michigan season ticket purchasers that is only now getting the attention that it deserved on the day that it was announced. There is a story there, but I’ll be darned if I know what it is. Reputedly, the Conference insisted on a scheduling principle in which not one of the quartet of Michigan, MSU, OSU or PSU would have to play all three of the others on the road in any given year. And somehow, that dictated that Michigan had to flip its schedule with MSU. But still I don’t understand exactly how the two things must be linked. As I say, the issue begs for more explanation from David Brandon, because this scheduling problem is a very big deal (as seen in the many comments above) and I don’t understand how or why Michigan was forced to give up its traditional rotation of home and away games with MSU and OSU.

    A last point, John. We need to sit down David Brandon, Mark Hollis and Gene Smith all together and ask them what they are doing as a group to reduce the costs of all of their departments. Because it seems that the status quo has all three of them just trying to figure out ways to get more money and spend it. They are merchandising everything they possibly can, fundraising privately, raising prices wherever and whenever they can, and spending the money as fast as they can. They are much like the rest of university administrations across the country. Being graded as fundraisers, not as cost-cutters. And using football as a cash cow, under inordinate pressure in the form of NFL-lite, to support vastly expanding departments. As you know, John, this is a problem that was predicted by Canham and Schembechler when the Title IX takeover of intercollegiate athletics was being considered in 1975.

  78. Cody H.

    JUB, diehard buckeye fan here that enjoys reading your articles, keep up the good work. This is absolutely a college football-wide problem. I go to a few games per year, and have increasingly been sitting in the student section lately because those are the easiest tickets to get. That NEVER was the case a few years ago. It shouldn’t be the case now. It also just makes me sad when they force you to pay through the roof to see a rivalry game. A Michigan v. Ohio State football game is something every fan should get to experience. Its unlike any other game out there, but it makes you feel like a sucker to attend anymore. You are spot on and keep fighting the good fight!

  79. Doree Senesac

    You are spot on and let me add our story. After proudly graduating in 2010, our oldest daughter went on to a career and many happy memories of her experience at UM. We became “hooked” on UM Fball AND Bball even though the RIchRod years were just starting (we suppoerted him 100%).
    Anyway, in the beginning, you just had to put your name on the waiting list for season tickets and we doubted we’d ever be so blessed. Then, it changed to a $100 donation to remain on the wait list. Now, after several bad experiences during the “big games” ND/OSU, where we paid premium prices from the UM B.O. just to be placed above the dwindling student section; we’ve finally been “offered” season tickets. Why aren’t we jumping at the chance we long awaited? Dave Brandon fooled us twice and will not get us to bite again. We know very well our “forever” seats will be above the student sections (once revered and never to be occupied by non-students). I love he enthusiasm our students display at the Big House games.
    But there’s a reason they have always been separated from the “general” fans. They sit anywhere they please and shove their drunken friends into seats we paid for even though we were supposed to be “above” their section. And trying to gain a profit from extra tickets we purchased to pay for the ones we couldn’t really afford? Forget that!
    Smart fans know what sections the students are supposed to b in and won’t pay premium for those seats no matter how much they want to attend a rival game. Dave Brandon has so alienated the fans from the Big House experience, but he won’t b held accountable. He’ll b off to his next big gig long before the consequences of his actions come to bear on the attendance numbers. Greed is NOT good and in his case, it’s “rotten to the core”!

    • Mark Copeland

      His next big gig is trying to be Governor Brandon in 2018…..

  80. Tim Macg

    Great article. Just tell me what we can do to stop Brandon. Who does he listen to? Who does he report to? How do we as regular fans get through to this guy as he strangles everything we love about umich football?

  81. Terry Daly

    I cannot say I enjoyed your article, but that’s perhaps because of my lifelong affinity to the university. Seven of my parents’ eight children graduated from Michigan; one of my sisters was admitted, but then had her admission revoked because of an administrative error where they admitted too many into the nursing program. My first memory of Michigan football was the 1972 Rose Bowl followed by numerous games in the old Michigan Stadium against the likes of Navy, Duke or Northwestern. I remember “Band Day”, passing up girls and the “buuulllllshh….t” response to penalties from those “radical” students of the early seventies.

    I grew up going to Ann Arbor to either drop off or pick up my older siblings from Michigan. The more I saw of Ann Arbor and the campus, the more I wanted to attend Michigan. I worked hard in high school and was admitted in September of my senior year. I was thrilled! While I loved going to Michigan, I was a much better student in high school and struggled in college.

    Surprisingly, football became much less important to me and I did not purchase season tickets in my junior or senior year. I attended a few games, but didn’t feel the need to be at every game. Ironically, I still loved Michigan football and have attended a few games since graduating in 1986. I was there when Rocket Ismael burned Michigan twice, I witnessed Desmond Howard pose and saw Biakabuka run all over OSU. I also was present to see Charles Woodson, as a freshman, ice the OSU game with an interception. I saw two of Michigan’s Heisman Trophy winners play in Michigan Stadium. My mom was there to see Tom Harmon.

    I love Michigan football! My daughter will attend Michigan this fall and like me all toes years ago, she is ecstatic. She loves the campus and the football, but it’s going to be expensive and academically challenging. I’ve tried to talk her out of Michigan for these two reasons, but she is determined.

    And this is really what matters. I want my daughter to succeed and get the best education to set herself up for life. Football is nothing in the big scheme of things yet it’s the athlete that garners all the attention, the “free ride” and all the other special amenities that go along with it. Yet these ignorant fools dare complain that they have it so rough and that they are being exploited. My daughter has the talents that qualify her to be at a world-class university, yet it’s the athletes, coaches and administrators that benefit most from the universtites that exist not to field football teams, but to educate! I would like to think that current students also understand this and that this might result in the reforms needed in college athletics. More money should make it’s way to students, not stadiums. More focus should be concentrated on the price of an education at Michigan versus the cost of a football ticket.

    I take great pride in my diploma from Michigan and hate to see it tarnished by problems in the athletic department.

  82. PSU fan

    This article was linked to a Penn State message board that I read. EXCELLENT analysis by the author. This article and its message need to be screamed from the college-athletics-mountain top. We at PSU are having similar issues as Michigan. College football will be a shell of its former self if it prices out the young spectators now. Tickets at PSU and Michigan should be about 30 bucks a game, period. Demand will be through the roof, traditions will be preserved, bills will still be paid, and future generations will know what it means to be a Wolverine or Nittany Lion.

  83. Jon Kraczon

    I am a proud graduate of MSU. I went there in pursuit of a degree that wasn’t offered by U of M. My Spartan education did nothing to change my allegiance to the maize and blue. I know of no other way to watch the seasons change. From the warmth of summer to the harsh cold of late autumn, the south end zone of Michigan Stadium is a second home to me. What started out for me in the 70’s as young boy, has been a huge part of my life with season tickets. In that stadium, I have celebrated many victories and mourned a few losses amongst the lifelong friends that I have made around my seat location. I don’t mean the victories and losses on the field. Rather, it’s the celebrations of births, graduations, new careers, marriages and the shared memories of those that have passed, in the unique community of season ticket holders that surround my family year after year. Over the past few years, the familiarity of this community has noticeably decreased. This is why I truly agree with what you have written.
    I have never attended a Super Bowl. Quite frankly, I have no desire to. I enjoy pro sports, just not with same passion that I have for Michigan football. The “super bowl” experience for me at Michigan Stadium involves victories, traditions and most importantly – memories. From Anthony Carter, Braylon Edwards, and Denard Robinson touchdowns to third string walk-on’s getting their first Michigan Stadium playing time in games against Rice, Baylor or Bowling Green. Fireworks, laser lights and flying stunt shows can be added to any gala, but the tradition that is Michigan football cannot.
    Thank you John! Your commentary has helped me realize that I am not alone in my feelings with the direction of this wonderful tradition.
    Go Blue.
    -Jon Kraczon

  84. Steve

    John, I rarely read your articles, but I’m glad to have read this one, and I shared the link on Twitter and FB. This is spot on. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor before and after attending Michigan. I couldn’t have sent this message any better than you did with your article.

  85. Mimi Bogdasarian

    I’m supporting softball Great game, great coach, and really great players. Hotdogs and water still too pricy!

  86. ava butzu

    A resounding bravo for a compelling argument that I would be proud to share with my AP Language students as an example of ethos, pathos, and logos working in tandem. More pointedly, you perfectly expressed my husband and my concerns and arguments.We graduated with degrees in English and in 1992 and have been season ticket holders since 1988. True public servants (unlike Mr. Fortune 500), we can barely afford our season tickets, can barely stomach the glitz and glamour, and can barely muster enthusiasm to watch our boys play the opponents that are lined up on this year’s lackluster schedule.

  87. Jeffrey Holzhausen

    John –
    As always, you right on. Frankly you won’t say it, but I will…the fact that you’ve lost your press pass shows how petty and vindictive Dave Brandon truly is. You would think as AD he’d be above such nonsense, and yet he proves over and over again he’s happy to have the same mentality of a pack of high school girls.
    There are a couple of other points I’d like to make:
    1. Attendance is dropping and I do believe Brandon and his policies are the top reason…but just as important…keep in mind that this team in not winning. There is nothing elite about Michigan Football anymore…and certainly not at the prices of OSU, Alabama, etc. Ten years since our last Big Ten title? I never thought I’d see the day. Michigan Football is an experience, but much of that game day experience is based on winning.
    2. When you talk about students not getting tickets, I wonder how many Administrators consider that when they think of soliciting donations 10-40 years down the road. In all of the way the U of M celebrates our diversity, our Athletics, and especially football, are one of the few endeavors in Ann Arbor that bind all of us. I wonder down the road when Michigan asks to give back, how many future alums will think…”To hell with you Michigan. You soaked me when I was there and you’ll not see another damn dime.” Athletics does nothing anymore to build that relationship now so that it might pay off in the future.
    Outstanding job as always! History will of course prove you right…

  88. Daniel Clippert

    I used to go to lots of games. My son was born in 1996 and I couldn’t wait to take him to games when he got older. As he got older the price of tickets increased beyond my budget. I am not poor but I am not wealthy either. When My son was born I would go to 3 or 4 games a year. A few years later it was 2. Then it was 1. That was all I could afford. Last year was the first year I did not go to a game. I can tell you I do not plan on going to a game this year either. My son is graduating from high school this year and will be attending CMU. I actually can not wait to start going to CMU games so I can get the College Football feel back. My passion for Michigan Football is a small fraction of what it used to be. I do miss it but I can’t afford to do it anymore. I considered my self a core fan. Mr. Brandon has priced me out of the picture. I am sure other Core fans are in the same boat. Great Read John. You nailed it here. Thanks for writing this.

  89. Mark Thompson-Kolar

    I’ve loved Wolverine football since I was a 10-year-old hearing them play on a transistor radio — been hooked ever since. There *used* to be a special feeling about the program, like it wasn’t as glitzy and was more workmanlike than other sports programs (college and pro). Now it feels totally scripted and glossy, like a pro event with a marketing-communication-driven skin stretched over it. That palpable loss of “heart” is much more evident when I attend a game, and honestly less so when I watch on TV (the commercials always have been there). As a result, viewing at home has become preferable to me.

    John, thanks for a great column.

    Mark Thompson-Kolar
    BA 1989, MA 1990, MSI 2011

  90. Mario Sulaksana

    I wrote a response to this article I shared on my facebook and I’ll share it here as well, because really for the first time, I’ve felt like I’ve read something that is painfully accurate and takes everything I have to say off my chest.

    The accuracy and honesty Mr. John U Bacon has delivered here can’t sum up enough of what I’ve felt the past 3-4 years. I’ve been going to these games since I could barely speak, and as time has gone on I’ve seen the very best and worst (yes I was at the Appalachian St. game) of what this team and program has had to offer. What is all the money good for anyway if it doesn’t account to anything that really matters like the student participation and the traditions we’ve come to know and love? These athletics bring in so much revenue to campuses across the country and usually those universities who do well tend to upgrade and impress, but what does that have to show when with all that, the crown jewel of your athletic program has been inconsistent and has not been living up to expectations? It just kinda makes me sad that this is an actual reality now, I’m just glad that when I was growing up I got a share of what was still true and authentic. Keep in mind that this isn’t just happening at Michigan, a lot of people would say this wouldn’t be a problem if the team would put up better records… but we could play the what if game and realize yes, if the formula for success on the field is also working off the field why change anything?? The only problem is it’s not working at the moment. It’s not working on nor off the field. With that all being said, who knows what’s in store for the future… ?

    Bo knows.

    (lol kinda had to throw in that cliche at the end sorry)

    Thanks for the column John, it was much needed and I hope ESPN or Fox sports gets ahold of it somehow so that the country can then understand the truth of what’s going on with college sports. They may have an idea, but this’ll really paint the whole picture.

  91. judy licavoli

    you pay for greed!!!!!!!

  92. Shailesh Reddy

    I agree with the points you make above however I think that there is one point that you did not address. When I was a student from 2006-2010 I remembered all of Michigan’s football glory from the 90s because I grew up with it so of course I was going to buy tickets no matter what they cost. However, students attending our great university now have no recollection of ever watching a good Michigan football team so it is much easier for them to forego buying tickets because, as sad is reality is to admit, Michigan football does not stir the same passion for college football that it used to. When taking your class in 2007 it was wonderful to hear about Michigan football history from games that we had witnessed prior to college. If students took your class now it would probably seem that the history part is truly emphasized because those students would not recall any of the classic Michigan football games that we hold on to as the current situation fails to improve.

  93. Barry Peters

    John, A terrific article, thank you. Being a season ticket holder since 1995 I decided to not renew my season tickets for many of the same reasons you mention above. I spent over 2 1/2 hours filling out my season ticket holder survey after this season explaining why I would not renew my season tickets. I clearly stated that my non-renewal had zero to do with the team’s performance. I included my email and phone number at least twice in the survey and never got a response.

    One thing you didn’t mention in this article is the respect, or lack thereof, of former football players by the current administration. The 1988 Big Ten and Rose Bowl Championship team was honored at halftime of the Minnesota game last season. In order for the members of that team to be honored, they had to buy a ticket to the game. I find this appalling and very short sighted. Former players who have not renewed their season tickets like to say that they have been “Brandon-ized.” Granted I only have a BBA, but I am aware of the concept of good will. Unfortunately, David Brandon has no idea of that concept.

    While my maize and blue heart will be saddened when the 100,000+ consecutive game streak ends this year (it was doubtful that there were 100,000+ for the Akron game last year, but I digress) it may wake up the Regents to the fact that David Brandon’s branding doesn’t work. About the only tradition that he brought back which everyone enjoyed was the PA announcer giving Slippery Rock score updates.

    Thanks again John for your insights and opinion.

    Go Blue!

    Barry Peters
    Former Michigan Football season ticket holder from 1995-2013

  94. Dave Tratt

    Two things that happened in the past have me on the edge of walking away. First, for a client tailgate/game event I was planing for about 30, I called the athletic department to see if I could buy two passes to the blue lot for one game. Because my “points” didn’t qualify me for the blue lot, no deal. Not even for ONE game in a lot that that has SCORES of empty spaces every game. Second, I was appalled when renewing my tickets online, after paying the PSL (so now I’m in my pocket for about $900/seat) and at the checkout, I’m hit with a $10 HANDLING fee. You’ve got to be kidding…..

  95. Joe Vocke

    Thank you so much John for your forthright and honest article. You articulated things so incredibly well. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1995 and was 50-50 to renew this year, but actually decided to go ahead for one more year. I felt like maybe I was the only one feeling this way, but your article and the many other comments I’ve read above show me that I am definitely in a full boat of like minded alums and fans.

    At the end of last season, I got my “Season Ticket Holder” survey and I was brutally honest in my comments and thoughts – touching on PSL’s, paying top dollar for sub-par games and the declining value of having season tickets. As has been a common thread in this discussion forum, it’s getting down to a matter of simple choices for us fans. The excitement of the day at the stadium, the sharing of the experience with others and creating memories with friends, family and loved ones are all valuable things. However, the reason I’m on the fence about how long I will continue to renew is because I feel I’m near the price point where the same value can be obtained without such a significant investment. It doesn’t help that the schedule has been reduced to playing a bunch of tomato cans with the occasional appearance of a premier game. Losing the ND series certainly doesn’t help, and rotating MSU to odd numbered years doesn’t help either. And if I’m being honest – I’ve probably been jaded by the RichRod years and the fact that we’re still a struggling program, trying to re-establish itself, doesn’t make the choice any easier when it comes to Saturday morning and deciding whether to make the several hour drive each way.

    Anyways – thanks again for writing this and so eloquently stating what many of us have been feeling. It helps knowing we’re all feeling similar things.

  96. Paul Ruschmann

    I had U-M season tickets from 1973 until 2005. My wife and I gave them up for a variety of reasons, many of which you cited.

    A couple of incidents were the proverbial straws that broke the camel’s back. At the Washington game in 2002, there was huge scrum of fans outside the entrances because stadium staff were slow in opening the gates. An athletics department spokesperson released a statement–which higher-ups quickly tried to walk back–to the effect of “this wouldn’t have happened if you showed up earlier.”

    Then there was the ban on bringing bottled water into the stadium. Even though dehydrated fans were a major problem at several early-season games, the department refused to relent. It told fans that free water was available at the Absopure stands. That statement was true, but the water was dispensed in thimble-sized cups.

    But here’s what annoyed me the most: bottled water, which you couldn’t bring in the stadium, was sold inside the stadium for $3 (now $4). I have yet to figure out why a 35-cent bottle of water from Costco is a security threat but a $3 bottle bought inside the stadium isn’t.

  97. Arjun Motta

    Hi Professor Bacon,

    Really loved this; I’m not sure if you’ve read Michigan Daily sportswriter Everett Cook’s hypothetical conversation between Bo and Dave Brandon, but I was definitely reminded of that, another great read here:

    Mr. Brandon has been IMMENSELY disappointing as an Athletic Director. I am a rising senior at Michigan, and while I did indeed buy football season tickets, it is mostly out of my unwavering stubbornness to support our team despite Brandon’s poor judgment. If administration has had an qualms about him, I certainly have yet to hear about it, but I honestly don’t get why I haven’t heard much.

    This upcoming season, the Michigan students will get to see NEITHER MSU NOR OSU AT HOME. I mean, what kind of garbage is that? Along with the Notre Dame game being away (after which the rivalry ends for a while, as I’m sure you know), it looks like our biggest “rivalry” home game will be…Minnesota? One of our non-conference games is against Utah? What did Mr. Brandon really expect? On top of that, I recently heard about the Big House being the host to a couple of high school proms. Perhaps this is my stubbornness coming out again, but while I love the university’s ability to connect to its surrounding community, I personally find prom to be a bit too juvenile in principle to be okay at the Big House.

    I truly do wish there was something that the student body could do. While I absolutely hate to talk about another person’s job security, the pattern of Mr. Brandon’s decisions has, to me, shown severe incompetence as an Athletic Director. If he’s not able to make some serious changes very quickly, I may have to consider joining the crowd of people asking for his resignation.

  98. Alison Mankowski

    Dave Brandon gets what he deserves. He let great soccer coach Steve Burns slip away and is a real a**. Can we please fire him now?!

  99. Loren Joostberns

    John: Do you remember what they use to call the “President’s Room” in the old press box? They always held the opening fall press conference/breakfast on media day there, featuring Bo and Canham. I was fortunate enough to attend those for many years (I have pics I could show you), and Bo and Canham would year after year point out towards the stadium seats and say that those were the people they had to protect, not TV fans. They were right on and current leadership will forget that at their own peril.
    I know it’s tough financially to compete in this day and age, but reason must prevail. Maybe it’s time to sell advertising in the stadium. The most irritating change is all colleges and pro teams creating legal scalping by cooperating with businesses such as stubhub.

  100. David Barbour

    If you ask me (and no one did), the sky boxes were the initial sign of Michigan’s descent into over commercialization. Before the sky boxes there was a sense of commonality and democracy in the Big House. Almost everyone endured or enjoyed the same atmosphere. If it rained, everyone got wet. If it snowed, everyone froze. It it was a glorious October Saturday, everyone reveled in it. Then came the sky boxes, which resulted in a few “haves” and many, many “have nots.” The boxes perfectly symbolize the present truth . . . only the money matters. The day of paying players and franchising all things “M,” including the teams, is fast approaching.

  101. Wes Eaton

    Spot on. The bottom line is that Michigan football games no longer feel like Michigan football games. When I’m at a game, the only music I want to hear is whatever the Michigan Marching Band is playing. Piping in Seven Nation Army (or whatever) just makes us exactly like every other stadium in the country that’s doing the same thing. Advertising just takes us out of the game-day experience and returns us to the real world. The cell phone thing is utterly bizarre. I’ve never once in my life wanted to talk to someone on the phone during a game. And if others around me are talking on their cell phone, that does nothing other than pull them and me out of the experience.

    Brandon is right about one thing: The competition for ticket sales is our televisions. But his answer to that has been to make the Michigan Stadium experience much more like the television experience, except vastly more expensive. So, fine, I’ll watch the games on TV. Let me know when the piped-in music and advertisements end so I can start coming back.

  102. John Brennan

    What an excellent article. As a parent of two Michigan students (one is a grad now), I know everything you’ve said rings true. In fact, it’s not just just about Michigan football — it’s college football in general. I live in Okemos and (before my kids went to Michigan!) was a State fan. I gave my season tickets, not because I turned colors — I still like State — but because the experience has become all-pro, from the halo lights to the incessant commercials on the boards (limiting band time) to the seat licenses for those of us sitting in the “cheap” endzone seats, often blocked by the ad-laden goal post screens (to keep the $100 footballs from being lost). We’re tired of scheduling App State and CMU year after year. We’re tired of last-minute schedule changes to kowtow to the networks. The list goes on. The only thing I would say is there is another reason why Michigan has lost season ticket holders, and that’s because Michigan hasn’t been winning like Michigan teams are expected to win. Change that, and despite all the problems, fans will return — the ones who also like pro ball. Not the ones described in your article. Well written piece!

  103. Kristian Foondle

    JUB is exactly on-target, and I am sure that when he puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, it torments his soul to have to speak the plain truth about our beloved program/university. As a proud alum and 4-year member of the MMB, I have held season tickets for 20+ years – and each of the last three years, as DB reached through cyberspace and fleeced my bank account, there has been a fierce battle between my heart and my brain. My brain advises otherwise but my heart has always come out on top: the maize and blue blood keeps flowing, but it is on a serious boil, pressing hard against arterial walls no doubt stressed by a combination of baring rap songs, incessant promotions, bad pizza (I’m looking at you, DB) and quite frankly, an inferior product on the field. I, like several other responders, spent a couple of hours on my season ticket survey, and expressed my extreme displeasure with the direction of the program in general and the game day experience in particular. I arrive early. I stay until the MMB has exited the tunnel. All I want, all I need, is to join 100,000+ other people who share my focus and passion, and to see a well-coached team playing with discipline and unity. Unfortunately, as Mr. Bacon has clearly enumerated, I fear those days are over – and at some point in the near future, the education I received in Ann Arbor will in all likelihood make my brain emerge as “the Victor” in my annual decision-making process regarding football tickets. If you are able to remove passion and pride from the equation – which should NEVER happen at Michigan, but which seems to be the goal of an insane marketing plan that begs for fans to text and tweet their way through the game – why should we continue to fork over large sums of cash to DB and his minions, just to be shoehorned into tiny seats and to have our senses and sensibilities bombarded with a product that is increasingly unpalatable? Oh my God, I just realized that we have become the Dominos Pizza of college football: a lot of hype and promotion, but delivered with cardboard crust, MAC-level cheese, and the topping is pure John U Bacon. Go Blue!

  104. Lawrence S. Jasinski II

    John U,

    I am a loyal and die-hard M fan, and also John U. Bacon fan. I have signed copies of all of your books (you owe me the signature on Fourth and Long :)).

    However, I believe your criticism of Mr. Brandon goes a little too far in your analysis. I think the reasons for the decrease in demand for M football tickets are twofold. 1) All of the cost issues that you point out in your article are dead on. 2) You have forgotten the performance of the team. That is a key reason. As a life-long fan, I feel like I have gone through the ringer with this team over the past several years. Up and down, key losses from rivals and in bowl games – many by huge margins. Further, there does not, on the surface, appear to be much hope for significant improvement this year.

    Also, the blame you lay at Mr. Brandon’s feet goes a little to far. Much of the scheduling is beyond his control. Everybody wanted the OSU rivalry maintained every year and on the last game. The Big Ten made us pay for that by setting up MSU at home on the same year as OSU. ND left the rivalry – not Brandon’s choice. Adding Rutgers and Maryland and the associated schedule changes were not Brandon’s decision. In today’s college football, you cannot schedule huge opponents every week. Not even Bo and Lloyd did this. Plus, M would not be set up very well at this point to handle this level of competiton.

    As for the students, let’s not forget that they deserve some of the treatment that they are currently getting. Their late attendance at noon games has been an embarrassment and belies some of the spoiled and distracted attitude that this generation has. This is also after multiple attempts by the AD to reach out to them and get them in the stadium early.

    I always appreciate your writings and the watchful eye that you have on the Michigan Tradition. However, in this case, I feel that you have gone a bit too far.

    Go Blue!
    Lawrence S. Jasinski II
    BSME Class of 1991
    Michigan Fan ’til They Close the Box

  105. Ron J Stefanski

    John you are spot on. Over the past decade when I think about why friends are less likely to take advantage of an offer to join us for the game or tailgate (including two grown sons who were nursed on Michigan patriotism for 20 years) the reasons are as you describe. Bigger hassle to pay another $30 for parking, gobs more for stadium food and drink, difficulty in getting seats or spaces together, restrictions everywhere you move in the vicinity of the stadium. That adds up to an experience full of hassles. College football across the board is also reaching a tipping point for players. Their names get licensed by the school, but they are expelled for selling bling, and their coaches and now assistants are ALL millionaires. This dilutes the notion of a student athlete. I had the wonderful fortune to talk with Bob Chappuis before he passed away. After being on the cover of Time magazine in 1947 for his role on the national championship that year he ultimately went on to a successful career in business. He didn’t expect his life to solely revolve around sports but it was a powerful and defining part of his life. That’s the ultimate power of being a well rounded Michigan man. I came to Michigan because of my best friend’s dad, Gil Burford, a hockey star for Michigan and NCAA champion in 1951. Another example of someone who parlayed successful athletic play into a successful executive career. He gave up his seats in part because of such hassles, and the near constant requests by UM for donations. This all sums up to a larger issue– how do we pull back a bit before it’s too late. Talk with Michigan stalwarts like my hero Norm Betts who was on the bottom of the pile for the game winning touchdown against Indiana in 1981. Another successful athlete turned non-athlete professional, and he will remind us it’s not too complicated to scale back on the excess, put more emphasis on creating a great academic experience for student athletes, and give the fans a more reasonable experience at the stadium. Otherwise we will see our beloved stadium starting to look more sparse than anyone ever anticipated.

    Ron J. Stefanski
    Co-founder, The Michigan Review
    LSA class of 1982

  106. Jerry A. Fullmer

    Pray what happened on your one day at UM Law School which compelled you to jump the fence for greener pastures.

    Hopefully it was not a lecture on Restitution by George Palmer.

    None of my business, of course.

    Jerry Fullmer
    UM Law ’62

  107. Larry Grace

    John – Good stuff as always. However, unless your blog appears on a mirror it is unlikely DB will be reading it. One can hope.

    Long before DB came to Michigan to sit on the bench as a student/athlete, I watched decades of poor to mediocre UM football teams (and currently get to see them again ) .Those years of support do not entitle me today to better seats, special pricing, less noise, etc. However, they have given me some perspective on what UM football/ was and has become.

    I get it that times and TV have changed virtually everything about game day at UM and every other big time college athletic program. I understand that the athletic department is a huge commercial enterprise and that football and basketball pay the freight for the entire generally successful UM athletic program. And, while not entirely compelling, I accept the argument that other schools have seat licenses, grossly overpaid coaches, and $6 hot dogs. Norman Rockwell does not live here anymore. I don’t like it but so what. No one forces me to the tickets I continue to buy.

    Dave Brandon says he wants to do everything with ” class ” , whatever that ill defined term means. We each have a sense of what “having class ” means and when/where it exists. My sense of the word is that bigger is not always better, louder is not always best, and less is frequently more. It is not a block ” M ” on a scoreboard large enough to be visible by a naked eye from outer space. Having class does not require hiring a skywriter to irritate a rival that has owned you in football in recent years. Having class is not holding a tin cup practically begging for money to send the University of Michigan Marching Band to a nationally televised game where the commentators joke about your poor mouthing ( while planning to erect a $3M bill board that would be out of place on Times Square ). So much for enhancing the brand.

    Thus far, Dave Brandon has managed to alienate fans , students, long time alums, and even fellow senior university officials “up the hill ” ( ask your contacts in Fleming about the latest tin ear decision to emanate from the Weidenbach ). It remains to be seen if DB’s biggest decison to date was the right one or not. We might have a better idea after this fall.

  108. Kit Johnson

    Mr. Bacon, great column and I agree with your analysis of the sad demise of Michigan Football (the Bo, not Beyoncé, variety). My only critique is that I think you let Bill Martin off the hook way too easily. I would say many of the culture changes you so rightly lament began during his tenure and only intensified with Brandon.

    Also, let’s not forget that he’s largely responsible for the decline in on-field performance due to his flubbing the opportunity to hire Les Miles by dropping off the grid to go sailing during the most important week of his career as AD. And amazingly that wasn’t the first time he crippled a major varsity program either! Remember he also blew off Rick Pitino at a critical moment back in 2001 to play squash, thus dooming Michigan basketball to nearly a decade of irrelevance. Nothing against sailing or squash, I enjoy them both, just not at the same time I have a major project going on at work…

    I guess the point is that while it’s sometimes it’s tempting to look back fondly on an earlier time when things in the present get bad, in this case I think we have to look back even further and remember that Bill Martin was an atrocious AD as well.

    Kit Johnson, BA ’03

  109. John Dobry

    I agree with just about everything I have read here. I have been a season ticket holder since 1979 in the North end zone. My wife bought me two bricks in Champions Plaza near gate 4. Last season I was inconvenienced by Sir Brandon and his ridiculous closing this gate to students only. I thought I might be attending game for the rest of my life. Now I am considering staying home

  110. Morgan Wick

    The college football powers that be have treated college sports like just another form of pro sports for years and now they complain when the players want to be treated like pro players too?

  111. Stephon Bagne

    I had season hockey tickets for over 20 years. We held on when they scheduled weekday games, exhibition games and games against hockey. When they couldn’t sell those tickets, they dumped them at discount prices, killing the secondary market for season ticket holders. We let those tickets go.

    This year, we let our football tickets go. We had a group of ten together to sell to friends who only wanted to go to one or two games a year. It became too expensive for our friends to come, pushing us to the secondary market where we learned that we were total suckers. Paying more than the true value of the tickets just so that we could sell them on Stubhub at a loss with the University taking another cut.

    Add in the watering down of the schedule. Rutgers and Maryland – who cares about them? The best non-conference games being scheduled in Dallas.

    The Athletic Department is totally lost. I cannot express how angry I am. Five years ago my wife was induced on a Tuesday so that we could to the Notre Dame game – she was there sitting on her donut. Now, we have given up our tickets.

    The University has been talking about its “brand.” I am (or was) not a consumer of a brand. I am somebody who attended a University for seven years, getting two degrees, a wife, a sister-in-law, lifelong friends, a living, an education, as a member of a community. But I have not been treated like a member of a community. OK, if they University wants to be a brand, so be it. This brand has not been very good on the field, is overpriced, and is selling an inferior experience in the stadium. I’ll pass on season tickets. After all, if I ever want them back, it is not like the students are going to be filling a wait list. I’ll be able to get them any time I want.

  112. Jason Raguso

    Good Mr. Bacon, Bakes, Mmmmm Bacon and/or JUB (whichever you prefer),

    Thank you for writing a piece that is on balance and on point. I’m not sure the exact moment but somewhere between the time Brandon made “The Process” appear all about him and the initial decision to not send the band to Dallas for the Bama game, the grapes of hope turned to the grapes of wrath.

    I fundamentally disagree with the media persona Brandon has purposefully created and what has come of it by accident. In an attempt to come across as a savvy business leader he’s domineered press conferences and packaged himself with one-liners. His egoism cloaked in “Innovative Thinking” justified his reinventing the role and media facetime of an AD at a big time program. That is the on purpose part that I find unsavory. Brandon comes across as a disingenous self-absorbed huckster to discerning alums. That is the by accident part. Hubris.

    I’ve had tickets since my freshman year in 1989 and let them go this season for every reason you covered AND his complete lack of self awareness. I can vote with my dollars and have. Hopefully more will do the same and we can get back to something resembling the time-honored institution that was Michigan football before Brandon knighted himself king.

  113. jim curran

    This article is perfect on how I and many others feel. Michigan State is now the Michigan of past.The Michigan of today is now all about the dollar and big business. The feeling of being part of this team is long gone and I no longer plan on going to anymore games and pay those prices.In fact I’m going to a Michigan State game this year.Michigan has lost its connection with the fans for the big buck and the snobbery by Brandon and the school is disgusting.Brandon’s hiring of Hoke shows he doesn’t really know what a good coach is (Hoke is a nice guy but his coaching has a lot to be desired. I agree don’t blame TV and other reason why people don’t show up,blame Brandon and his ticket prices and the way he has turned this program into just a big Business operation.the spirit is almost gone Brandon is becoming another Ned Harkness.Brandon is bringing this program down with his big business vision. Brandon doesn’t think about the fans or their connection to the program all he sees is the dollar and this is and will continue being a huge problem.When I went to last years Ohio St game and looked up in stands at game time and saw a huge spot not filled I knew there is a problem going on as if you can’t fill the stands with Ohio St then you are in trouble.People did come after the game started (I heard they let people in free to fill the stands.If the school President and board doesn’t look into this situation then Michigan will continue to fall.Just look at all the players who have backed out of playing here the last several months this should also tell Brandon thee is a problem.I have never seen anything like this since I started following the Wolverines in 1960.The Sparten’s are looking better every year,at least the spirit and the connection with the fans are still there.

    • Brian Schwab

      This piece by Mr. Bacon summarizes my feelings very well.

      But, speaking to Jim Curran now, the Michigan State game day experience is no better than Michigan. They also have loud, piped in music. The advertising is different – Jackson National Life Insurance and Capital City Airport instead of “Hold your wedding at the Big House”. The food and drink prices are pretty much the same and they also have seat licenses to be paid. Instead of scheduling Appalachian State, MSU has Jacksonville State Replace Miami with EMU and Utah with Wyoming. Beyonce with Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore. Good luck with your visits to East Lansing, but I’m not really feeling MSU “spirit and connection with the fans”. They want your cash also.

  114. Ross Rayner

    Jim Delany told the Maryland A.D, whom voiced concern with the size of their stadium, “It is not about butts in the seats. It is about eyes on the TV.”

  115. Travis LaFalce

    I grew up going to Michigan games since I was 4, and I currently attend Western Michigan University. We’re going through a phase where Dave Brandon is our head coach. P.J. Fleck didn’t come to WMU to line his pockets, he only came here to make a spectacle of himself, and instead he’s making a fool out of the University. I see quite a bit of similarity between WMU and UM, and the MAC is the last D-1 conference that is still in the process of, and not already completely, down the crapper.

  116. john arbeznik

    The demise of the athletic department started with the deaths of Don Canham and Bo Schembechler. Having captained a M team for Bo and a regular in Don’s suite in Michigan stadium, I can see the massive change in fan treatment and ex-player reception. I no longer attend games in M stadium(but will attend a tailgate party every other year). Dave Brandon has been the main problem. Bo and Don (and Bennie and Fritz and Fielding H) would be ashamed for Michigan. The fact that corporations would replace loyal fans and ex-players in priority is appalling. just attended a Alabama Football golf tourney in Mobile AL and met with many ex players. They are considered a part of that great program till they die. Numerous university sponsored events keep these great players in touch with the current players and keeps perhaps the greatest program in college football UNITED. Brandon has polarized all of uswith his “branding” of M football. Bad news for Brandon as it has become not much of a brand after once being the greatest progam in college football. Resign, Brandon, before the new president figures out your bs..

    • Bedell

      Well said Captain Arbeznik!

  117. Dee S

    MU is finally living down to the rest of the state.

  118. Bill Ziehler

    Love the post.

    As a student in the 90s, tickets were $13.50 and you moved closer to the press box with the accumulation of credit hours. Also, when the athletic dept. said that any student who wanted a ticket to the Rose Bowl at the end of the 1997 season would get one, that meant something. I remember standing in line at Yost to get my ticket voucher.

    Take care of the students, they are the core of the university community.

    What will the alums recall when hit with donation requests 20 years from now? A sense of the university community with students as a priority or disillusionment and disinterest brought on by mass marketing and squeezing revenue out of everything?

  119. Jeff Spearin

    The Michigan Athletic Department should study and take a page from Augusta National. The Masters is an event that has all the history, lore, and appeal that Michigan Football used to have and the great thing about the event is that they don’t charge ridiculous prices for everything at the event. Their strategy is to make sure every patron has a great experience and remembers their time at the event so that they can pass it on to others and the cycle repeats.

  120. Mike Marsh

    I agree with everything in the article and have disliked Dave Brandon’s approach from the start. But it was odd to read this whole thing without much mention that part of the product being sold is the results on the field. Let’s be realistic here. If Michigan was in contention for the national title each year, that stadium would be packed. But starting with the App State loss in 2007, it just hasn’t been the Michigan program many of us grew up with.

    That 2007 team scrapped its way to a mediocre record. And that would have been fine if it was a one-year event. But then you follow it with 3-9, 5-7 and 7-6, and it’s tough for some fans to stay as passionate. Hoke went 11-2 in his first year, but if we’re being honest, that was a 9-4 quality team. Beating ND and VT were flukes. Many bought in that it was a resurgence, but the two years that follow have been pretty much where Rodriguez left the program – a notch below mediocre.

    This is a seven year stretch we’re talking about! When Henne, Manningham, Hart, Woodley, Branch, Harris and that incredible 2006 team took on Heisman winner Troy Smith for a chance to play in the National Title Game, this year’s incoming freshmen were in fifth grade! They don’t have a connection with Michigan as a national power.

    So I agree that Brandon’s approach is awful. Not just with the things mentioned, but others as well. The unretiring of jerseys, scheduling App State because it will “get people talking,” and lots of other ridiculous stuff. But let’s not act like the team has played at a level to attract 100,000 fans either. It’s not HD TVs or commercialism, it’s wins! We’re talking about the worst seven-year stretch since 1961-67.

    One last point I’d throw in there on the money that Brandon is making … Brady Hoke made about $1 million a year at SDSU. Rich Rod made $2.5 million a year at Michigan. So why is Hoke making more than $4.2 million a year at U-M? What did he do prior to Michigan or since arriving to prove he deserves that? Why was Al Borges one of the top 10 paid assistant coaches in college football last year? It’s almost like Brandon thinks if he pays people like they are great, then they must be great, instead of paying people what they are worth based on their accomplishments.

    • Jesse Alexander

      Wonderfully Stated. This should be formatted in a letter and directed immediately to Brandon’s attention!

  121. Jesse Alexander

    You’re exactly right although you forgot to mention a whole other issue of “dynamic pricing.” This plan penalizes you if you only want tickets to the premium games or a ticket pack, forcing you to pay double, even triple the cost of regular priced tickets. Brandon is a lunatic. Heaven forbid you live in Florida and want to attend two Michigan games rather than eight. For this infraction we fine you! Michigan is not a business it’s an elite family which doesn’t need to be taken advantage of financially.

  122. Steve Kushner

    I can’t say I agree with this. I have been a season ticket holder for 14 years now after graduation and I have lived in Alaska, San Francisco, and Boston. I still find a way to make it to the majority of the games, regardless of distance and personal cost. Basically, all my vacation for 14 years has been shaped around making it to Ann Arbor for football (and hopefully sneaking in some hockey while I am there). *Note: I was also an Oakland A’s season ticket holder while in SF and would be a Pittsburgh Penguins ticket holder if I lived there* Yes, it is expensive, and increasing. Sure, I wish there was less music piped in through the PA. Heck, I was unemployed for 6 months. But the ONLY reason I have ever thought about not renewing my tickets is the product on the field. When it seems like bad decisions are made that result in us losing to Toledo, for example, why should I want to travel the miles to experience that? Sure, we aren’t going to win every game, but there is a certain level of performance that other Universities seem to be able to attain that we have not recently (This is not an indictment of RichRod or Hoke, but other coaches around the country seem to be able to win in their first year and with the talent they inherited.) I obviously analyze Michigan football more than others, but I can’t think of any team that does less with the quality of recruits that are brought in (maybe Georgia?), which is amplified by the quality of the job Dantonio and company are doing in East Lansing. I don’t have time to worry about the price of hot dogs and drinks at the stadium: I am there to watch football not enjoy a picnic. I don’t blame the AD for students not showing up, I blame the weak ass kids that don’t value what they have. But keep underdeveloping talent and winning 6-7 games a year? That is when my ticket purchases will cease.

  123. yale van dyne


    Thanks for another well written article. Though your press pass was revoked and you’re persona non grata within the Athletic Department, I believe you’ve displayed the type of integrity and Michigan Man ethos, BO would commend.

    The non grata portion of the program is attributable to your investigative reporting which has unearthed a lot of Michigan Mouse behaviors by some who’ve invaded our beloved school and program. Some of these offenders are neither man nor mouse and more akin to cockroach. (I’m no entomologist, but you’ve squashed most of them with your proverbial flyswatter) You’ve paid a personal cost (duh…press passes are pretty good seats) been judged harshly and unfairly (propaganda fueling the fire) but your efforts are appreciated. Thank You!

    You are a Giordanos Pizza in a Dominos Pizza world, my friend. (I’m talking Brandon’s Dominos, not the current one; Dominos sans Brandon is good) Without Brandon, the Dominos brand is soaring. (and so too will Michigan)

    Here’s looking forward to Michigan getting back to a little less Brandoning and a lot more Michigan!

    Go Blue


    • Doug Matton

      C’mon I’ll meet you at the skull house

  124. KDrak


    I’ve never read your posts before, and don’t usually finding myself commenting on articles/blogs/etc., but this post was spot on, and you deserve some praise for it. I’ve never really liked Brandon as the AD, but after he incorporated Michigan Football, things just haven’t been the same. I mean, talk about a guy who’s out of touch with reality…cell phone usage?! You’re at a sporting event with 110,000 other fans, and up until 5 or 6 years ago you were watching a competitive Michigan football team. Fans go to the game for the experiences, the tradition, the fun. I’m a die hard Michigan fan, have been all my life. The thing I hate to admit more than anything, is that Michigan is on the decline. Not proud to admit it, but the realist inside of me knows it’s true. That, combined with the examples in your article are why UM is struggling to sell tickets.

    Thanks for the read, glad to see there are MANY others that share similar feelings.

    Go Blue!

  125. Brad Poston

    Fascinating article. Reading Brandon’s comments makes me think of a guy who is expert in a specific business who thinks he’s expert in all business. What works selling fast food pizza (impulse purchase, primarily based on cost, low brand loyalty) doesn’t work in selling a football program. Brand loyalty in college football is built over years and is based deeply in traditions, geography, and personal, emotional ties to the history of the program. If Brandon thinks his problem is cell service and people’s television sets when the data SCREAMS it isn’t, how does he justify that seven figure salary? That’s no different from rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But guys like this are convinced they are brilliant but your reality (I’m an Ohio State alum) is that a second year UM biz school student could figure a lot of this problem out.

  126. Paul Murphy

    We have given up our season tickets after 15 years because of the ever increasing prices. We were becoming very annoyed with the constant horrible load music between each and every play. Who needs it? We have heard among friends a very familiar sound of maybe one more year and if the cost doesn’t fit the enjoyment of Michigan “Game Day” as it once was, then good bye season tickets.

  127. T J Driscoll

    Great blog JUB. Spot on with most of your points for any alum who know a bit about the history of the Athletic Department over the past forty years. I was amazed at how Mr Brandon methodically purged the department of former employees who had worked there for many years loyally and unceremoniously got the boot. Ask one Bruce Madej how he has been treated after giving so many years of his life and career to this great once great University. Mr Brandon not only let these employees go but look at the numbers of new hires to replace them – not tit for tat but more like two or three to one. Creating a work force loyal to him at an increased payroll that the ticket holders he is abusing must bankroll. The new President should be made aware of all this. It would spin his head and make him dizzy like all the rest of us – unless he is on the corporate carousel as well. Seems Brandon has taken those timeless Meeeeshigan traditions and changed that famous mantra from Leaders and Best to Following and Chasing the Rest for that almighty dollar. Oh the cost of big time Athletics these days. I remember the time when the Big Ten meant more than a TV network and actually had believe it or not – ten members.

  128. Gavin Smith

    An excellent article summarizing the issues surrounding shrinking interest in investing in the game-day experience. Rather than reiterating your points, I just wanted to share my most recent experience with the athletic department. My 5-year old is an M Go Blue Kids Club member, and he was excited that he got a ticket offer and wanted to take his 2 cousins to a game. So we bought the family pack over the phone from a very polite student employee. Just two days later, we got an emailed survey which eventually asked how much we’d be willing to pay for Kids Club membership in the future (currently a nice freebie for kids) given a list of membership benefits. I cannot express how disappointing it is for them to even ask this question. Michigan football is a family tradition, and the centerpiece of family visits in the fall. More and more the athletic department under Mr. Brandon’s leadership makes us feel like mere consumers rather than valued members of the extended Michigan family.

  129. Tom

    You don’t think since Brandon changed the student section from Sr. getting better seat than Jr., jr. better seats than so. and so on, to open seating that it doesn’t effect it? Why would a sr. who has paid their dues to sit in the front, but a ticket to sit in the same seat they say in as freshman? Nobody college student is going to sit in line for a open seat when you could be tailgating.

  130. Rob

    Very well written article. I am a Spartan grad and former season ticket holder and gave up my seats for ALL of the reasons listed by you and the comments above. I had attended MSU games since 1976 and the entire atmosphere is now like being at a professional sporting event. So U-M is not alone. I guess I am getting older but I don’t need/want ticket licenses, chairback fees, $4 bottles of water, blaring rap music, and television timeouts between every change of possession.

    That is not Spartan football, and I don’t believe it is Michigan football either. Thank you for saying what so many of us feel.

  131. yale van dyne


    Are you aware of the changes in the Mott Children’s Hospital fundraiser/golf tournament?. I was told former football players were either discouraged or disallowed from promoting fund raisers for MOTT Hospital and encouraged to raise funds for athletic department only? The golf outing was eliminated as well. I was told this was due to a regime change and theory that players are the universities resource and should be used accordingly. (used is key term here) I’m guessing Mott not happy with the “nuveau riche Michigan” like the rest of us.

    A couple noteworthy prospects: Brad Bates Athletic Director at the Boston College University is a former Michigan Man, played under BO and is well versed in collegiate athletics.

    Warde Manuel is a former Michigan Man and player who’s currently the Athletic Director at University of Connecticut. UCONN won the national title in basketball this year and nearly beat us in football too. (fyi…Warde did NOT cut down the nets after the their NATIONAL TITLE, not regionals, win…) I’m just saying….

    I would love to hear if you know anything about MOTT?


  132. Tom Hancock

    With the “marque” game being against Penn State OVER FALL BREAK. Why would we pay nearly the highest premium in all of college football for student tickets when the only game with a >$20 ticket value will be free because students leaving town (maybe half of the student section) for the weekend will give there tickets away

  133. Alan Fanger

    John, this was exceptionally insightful, but beyond that, the fact that your posting would generate this tsunami of a response sends one very resonant message: Michigan football is a public trust, and the beneficiaries of that trust care enormously about preserving the “corpus” of that trust.

    The larger question is whether this trust can grow and evolve with the times, while preserving the infrastructure of tradition that IS Michigan. Let me give you an example of a minor “tweak” could be easily accomplished. With Notre Dame going off the schedule, Michigan should start playing Stanford every year. That is about as natural an intersectional rivalry as you could invent, and it would give U-M a bi-annual footprint in the rich enclaves of Northern California, where both alumni money and recruits can be wooed and wowed.

    But for anyone to suggest that Michigan and the Big Ten have sold their souls to the devil by inviting Rutgers and Maryland into the conference is to deny the reality of 21st century college football. As the US population has migrated to the Sun Belt, the conference that occupies much of that part of the country–the SEC–has become the dominant conference in college football. That makes the playing field for recruiting unequal…unless you as a conference expand your footprint. Now the Big Ten’s swath cuts from Kansas City to Washington, essentially the northeast quadrant of the country. Michigan will get to showcase its stuff annually in New York or D.C., depending on where it’s playing. Do not complain that your team loses too many games and at the same time bemoan the fact that it has had to broaden its reach to attract more blue chip recruits and win the games you want it to win.

  134. charlie flora

    Right on! I couldn’t agree more. It’s really very sad what’s going on now, especially with King Brandon.

    Charlie Flora

  135. Dave

    I just did a quick search of other major football programs to see what they charge students. Here is a small sample:

    University of Florida – $90 for the 2013 season. They’ve won 2 championships in the BCS era so some how the lack of huge student revenue didn’t hurt the program.

    University of Texas – $175 a season…for ALL UT sporting events, not just football. Texas is the most profitable NCAA football program.

    University of Alabama – $10 a game for students for the 2014 season. If memory serves me correctly, the Bama football program has enjoyed just a teeny bit of success in the BCS era and yet some how didn’t have to ream students to do it.

    Bottom line, students should be paying a minimal fee for tickets, or no fee at all. There’s no excuse for it. The revenue Michigan makes from season ticket sales to students is dwarfed by the revenue the program generates from any one game alone so it is hardly necessary revenue.

    Perhaps, David Brandon is better at the pizza business than he is at the athletics business.

  136. Robert Reneker

    Well done Mr Bacon. Not a U of M grad, but was raised on Bo and Woody. I have occasionally attended U of M games over the years, and have always enjoyed them. My son, now a U of M student has me going more often to visit him. Many of the things you outline are evident even to an infrequent attendee like myself. My son is a senior, so my last shot to go with him comes this fall, so I will likely go to one game this year, but probably my last unless something changes. My sincere hope is that Brandon has the courage to actually listen to his “customers.” And stop referring to them as customers in the first place.

  137. Robert Bird

    I don’t know how someone who is so wrong about RR ( if he wins any national championships at Arizona it will be a miracle ) could be so right about this. I have had season tickets since 1990 and I cherish every home game. I see the reason for not scheduling Notre Dame every weekend, but we need to do much better than the sad slate of opponents they are rolling out this fall.

    I recently heard Dick Vitale say that the Big Ten expansion to Rutgers and Maryland was an awful idea and I agree. The DB quote about if it isn’t broke, break it, is just insane. Every new idea isn’t a good idea. There is a reason why the old worn out phrases are worn out, they are used over and over again because they are true. If it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it Dave. Not every idea your predecessors had was bad.

    So we can blame DB and we can really blame Mary Sue Coleman for hiring him, but until the fans speak, nothing will change. Can we all forgo 1 year of missing M football to send a message? What would M do if 20%, 40%, 60% of season ticket holders just didn’t renew their season tickets? Would the Regents actually do something? What is it worth to right the ship?

    Last time I looked, Domino’s Pizza isn’t the company it once was. When did the decline start? When DB was the president? Is it good to have someone with a business background running the athletic department? Maybe, but not all businessmen are the same. The sad state of affairs can be analyzed and the reasons determined and solutions can be implemented. But which solutions? There are many ideas about what is best for M football in specific and the athletic department in general, most are not good ideas and the more I see of DB’s solutions, the more obvious it is that his ideas fall into that category.

    This is not that hard : The old guard doesn’t like almost anything that has been implemented in the past few years. The blaring music and incessant pleas to text your vote for the song you want to hear ( we can listen to Sirius radio on the way home all we want ) and constant promotions to have your wedding at the Big House cheapen the experience. If the younger fans, meaning students, are dropping out of the season ticket process then clearly the new approach isn’t working on them either. So time for a change.

    I will add that DB’s attempts to get students to the game earlier was on the right track. I frankly don’t care how many students attend the games. If they feel that arriving late and leaving early is the best way to support the team, then good riddance. Ideally this would mean more seats available for regular season ticket holders, which pay a lot more than the students. But if there isn’t a waiting list to fill those seats, then DB has the cart before the horse. Don and Bo were like gods to many of us growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. It is tough for someone today to match the memories and emotions that have been brewing inside us for the past 24 years since Bo left. But M can do better than the current approach and needs to soon before we become just another NCAA Division I college football program instead of the LEADERS and BEST!

  138. Stew Lieberman

    Than you for writing what needed to be said, I hope our new President reads your article and heeds your comments.

  139. Wayne

    The true measurement of how an athletic director is doing should be measured on the field – not in the accounting room. If we look at how Brandon is doing on the field, its not so good. The Director’s Cup compares results between common division schools and ranks them based on their finishes in the national standings. Since 1993, Michigan has finished in the top 9 in Division I of the Director’s cup standings 15 (out of 21) times – 8 out of 10 times by Bill Martin, Brandon’s predecessor. Brandon’s record so far is 15th in ’10-’11, 10th in ’11-’12, 4th in ’12-’13, and presently sits at 10th for ’13-14 (and will finish worse than that as our spring sports have not fared well). Three of the worst six years in this competition are on Brandon’s watch and this is only his fourth year. Yeah, he’s making more money for the program (and angering most of Michigan’s loyalist fans in doing so), but the coaching exodus and lack of performance speaks to much more. He is not liked within the department, has fired more personnel than any director before him, and has created an atmosphere of disharmony unlike any other – all in the name of the almighty dollar. It’s time for him to go so Michigan can get back to winning on the field, by the athletes, not the bean counters.

  140. Harvey Simon

    Excellent article. Michigan alum, 1972, was on the field tearing down a goalpost after the ’69 OSU game. It was always about sitting with your friends, watching that great band, and cheering on the team. Now? It’s hard to imagine an AD more tone deaf than Brandon. Listening to him, you’d think Bo’s famous speech should have ended with “the brand, the brand, the brand”. My advice? Tone down the Jerry Jones impersonation, take the game experience back to its roots, charge students reasonable prices, and build a winning team.

  141. Michael Davis

    It sounds to me like the problem with Michigan football is Dave Brandon! Cell phones & 60″ Flat Screens T.V.’s are terrible excuses for low attendance. High prices and a greedy, clueless Athletic Director are the problem. Fire Moron and the problem will solve itself! Go Big Blue!

  142. heather papp

    I whole heartedly agree with you. I was a die hard Michigan fan long before I ever went there. It was a “perk” that I could go to the games, sit in the student section, be a big part of the always seemingly record breaking crowd… Be a part of the history. Take part in the ritual and and feel as though I’ve stepped back in time… It could have been a game in 1940 except that jumbotron you know? The cheerleaders, the band… Completely void of all the reasons I dislike the NFL and have never though to go to one, turning down free tickets and begrudgingly listening to one game a year, thanksgiving lions game because there was no choice… Now? I don’t think I could afford two tickets, but even if I budgeted for it I think I would spend the money on something else. It doesn’t have the same feel to it. I just cannot do with ads and hype and celebrities all cutting into my band time and annoying me… When this started happening I actually vowed to never buy this or never invest in that because they are stealing my football game. Now I just don’t go and don’t pay attention to who is ruining my game. I wish Bill Martin was still there. He understood.

  143. David Czupski

    When the late Michigan broadcaster Bob Ufer said, “Michigan football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day of obligation,” he was on to something.

    It’s a shame that Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon has brought the tax collectors to the Big House Church. Another tradition has fallen to the waist side. It’s all about the money.

  144. JIM

    I appreciate your comments and I agree completely. As a loyal OSU ticket holder(40+years), we are going through the same thing with different athletic director. Prices are rising and the 8PM games are becoming the norm. You will soon see the Horseshoe needing bodies, too.

  145. Jason Siwik


    I was born and raised in Michigan as a Michigan fan to parents who never attended college, but purchased season tickets in the 70’s and still have them till this day. At the age of 10 my father was promoted and moved our family to Syracuse, New York. It’s important to note this as my entire life after the age of 10 consisted of several family trips each fall back to Ann Arbor to visit family and attend games. That’s an 8 hour ride each way through 9 years of grade school, 4 years of college (RIT), and 14 years as an adult living in Upstate NY now taking my family back to see games in the fall.

    I think back to my days as a kid living in Syracuse as the lone Michigan fan in my school. I enjoyed the fact that I was a Michigan fan because Michigan meant something to me. Michigan football meant success and winning through hard work and integrity. Winning the right way. In a way I’m a Michigan junkie having read Mitch Alboms book and your books. It meant something to me that I could sit in that stadium with 100,000 people who I thought shared those same feelings as I did. We were all part of “winningest college football team in America” and we all knew that Michigan did it the right way.

    These are things I wish to pass onto my very young children one day, but my fear is that they will not share the same experiences I did. My parents sat in the same seats my entire life and have become great friends with the 20 or so other season ticket holders around them. I grew up sitting with these people, tailgating with them, and going to dinner after a game with them. Over the last 3 years those 20 or so friends have slowly dropped their tickets OR their seats have been moved entirely. My parents seats have been moved a few times as well.

    The point I guess I’m trying to make is that it used to be a great family atmosphere. Today it’s all about how much money you donate, how many points you have, and how much money you’re willing to give. In a way I’m happy that season ticket sales are dropping and the wait list is gone. If there is one single thing that Dave Brandon will understand about his fans….I mean customers is that when they stop buying the pizza or season tickets or whatever he’s selling then maybe he’ll take a look back at what you’ve said and fix it.

    Then maybe you’ll get your press pass back. What a crock that is as well. It is perceived by myself and others that Brandon is censoring those like yourself who aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade.

  146. Dave clay

    So a bunch of band wagon fans are jumping on the train out of town? If this program had won the national championship last year or in the not yo distant pass we would not be having this conversation
    So not as many students are going to games, sure it’s bothersome, but like was mentioned with the big tvs we have now, sure they would much rather sit in a local pup or house and watch the game and party that’s just kids these days. Michigan is not the only school that is havering this issue Ticket prices are up at every stadium food and drinks are up. Kids just can’t afford it. True

    But it’s not just a michigan thing. I am a life long Wolverine Fan. Who lives in Oregon

    When I moved here six years ago a person could not find a ticket to a game in Eugene no matter how hard they tried. This year you can get season tickets that just a few years back you were on a very long list that never moved

    Times change folks

    But Michigan has and will weather the change as they have for over 100 years


  147. Steve Gehrig

    I found this link and was surprised to be reading (for the most part) a mirror image of my feelings. My wife and I have had season tickets since the ’70 season (’69 was taken up by my final draft notice after graduation) and I have attended UM games since the late 50’s when a former Michigan alum and basketball player from the 30’s used to take me to the games.

    He and I along with my uncle would first go to the Pretzel Bell and then we would arrive at the stadium around 11 am in time to watch the teams work out and get ready for the game. The Boy Scouts would be give instructions and the stadium would begin to fill. My Michigan Experience was just beginning.

    Later I would drive from my home town as a junior and senior in high school and bring friends to the game. We would park at Pioneer HS and buy our tickets for $1.00 as students. I would always stay for the post game show and then begin the drive home.

    Upon coming to the University, I would stand in line to get the best ticket possible, first sitting in the card section in the end zone and ultimately, as a senior, sitting on the 45 yard line.

    The day would begin with arriving at Wines Field and then coming to the stadium with the MMB. We did not go to the Big House then because it was known only as Michigan Stadium!

    The games were fun and a break from studies as well as a chance to connect with other students and cheer for the home team. We sat through all kinds of weather and endured less than stellar seasons at times but we cheered our Michigan team with uncomplicated cheers (Let’s go blue was a pretty involved cheer). The band played and we sang and cheered.

    Post game was always part of the day and then the trip back with the band to Wines Field. Revelli and Cavendar were part of the experience. After 3 UBA cheers we would then return to either our dorm (Freshman year) or our apartment to enjoy the rest of the day because Sunday meant back to the books.

    Now I am made aware that the students do not have reserved seating and what seating there is available is limited to the far corner of the field. I do like the fact the band is part of the student section, however. When I was there, they sat on the field.

    As stated earlier, I have held season tickets since 1970 and coming to the games allows me to reconnect with the University that gave me and my wife so much. Winning is always more fun than losing but it is still about the University. We still stay for post game and return with the band to Revelli Hall. After the final playing of THE VICTORS, I yell out to the band, “THANKS BAND,” and then try to thank individual members for making my day a truly Michigan day. If the opposing band has come to the game and returned to REvelli Hall, I thank them for coming and entertaining us.

    Somehow I do not think the current AD understands what it is to be a Michigan Wolverine! It is a feeling and something we have experienced over our lifetime and we want to share it with our friends and family.

    Seat licensing fees, high dollar tickets, degraded schedules, blaring rock music, and advertising do not add to the experience. It appears that students, alumni, and staff have gotten lost in the chase for the almighty dollar.

    As was said by an earlier contributor, games used to begin at 1 0r 1:05 and we could count on being back celebrating the victory or commiserating about the loss by 4 pm. Now one cannot make plans until a week or so before each game and the game might begin before noon, at 3:30, or 7 pm—all because TV runs the show, not the University.

    Maybe Hutchins had it right and there needs to be less emphasis on athletics, but as long as I live, it will be great to be a Michigan Wolverine and I will continue to support my University and I hope that the current AD is able to balance the needs of the Students, Alumni, and the public without further damaging the Saturday afternoon experience.

    GO Blue!!

  148. James Allen

    And don’t think this stuff hasn’t had its debut in Columbus. Despite the fierce rivalry, Ohio State and Michigan have much in common. Both teams are big businesses. And only the fans can stop the current
    capitalistic greed. OSU tried to sell spring game tickets this year for $20. The fans revolted, ticket sales were sluggish, and the decision was quickly reversed. A lesson was quickly learned. Previously, the underfunded band was increasingly substituted for loudspeaker music. The crowd hated the new NFL model. But the band and “common folk” had the last laugh. As the fans were being exploited, the band’s halftime shows went viral on you tube, and suddenly the athletic department started to fund more generously the band and the music stopped. Our overpaid Ad has learned that we will tell him what we like–and will pay–and if he ignores our choices, his job security is in jeopardy. And he’s learning quickly that sitting at the epicenter of history and tradition while watching a weak team who needs a paycheck will not justify the grotesque prices his marketing team thinks we will pay.

  149. Fredric Alan Maxwell

    Excellent article, though I would have included the little-stated fact that Michigan hasn’t won an undisputed ncaa football crown since 1947.

  150. Bert Green

    Excellent article, John. We’re connected through mutual friends, and I’m sure you know about my family and our connection to U of M for the past 60 years.

    I struggle with being a season ticket holder every year; this years awful horrible terrible no-good home schedule does not help…

    One thing that used to ‘help’, before the stadium renovation, was that we all sat together and were ‘in it’ together. There were no suites, luxury seating, boxes, terraces, or anything else. We all sat together, on a hard metal bench, in heat, sun, wind, cold, rain, snow, and so on. The Dean of the medical school could be sitting next to a custodian; a lawyer next to a plumber, and so on. There was a sense of community…and now there are armed policemen guarding the elevators and staircases leading up to…places I’ve never been or seen but I hear are nice with plush carpet, private restrooms, fancy food, and who knows what.

    My point is that the ‘class system’ has taken over Michigan Stadium (I’ll never call it anything else) and it’s a shame that, like everything else, things ain’t what they used to be.

  151. David Potocnik

    I am from Ohio, and have been a Michigan fan for the last 11 years or so. It really has not been easy, seeing the last game of the season go to the other guy, but I hung in there. I have been to a half dozen games since this time, through good times and bad. Mr. Bacon, I just want to thank you for this great expose on some of the data and the hard numbers to put some of the unease that I had been experiencing during my seldom trips to the stadium over the years…as the military hasn’t allowed too many trips home. Beyonce? Think I just threw up in my mouth a little… Time to get back to the team’s roots.

  152. Kelly

    We have a son who will be a senior in the fall. Sadly none of his friends who have always been season ticket holders have purchased season tickets this year because of the following: ridiculous price increases (Michigan has some of the highest priced tickets in the country for what has been a mediocre team that plays a lousy home schedule this year), eliminating assigned seats so that they have to stand in line for hours before big games to get a decent seat (Dave did away with the tradition that as you move up in class status your reserved seat gets better and you were guaranteed a seat with your friends). For my husband and I, we always looked forward to traveling across the state to Ann Arbor, spending time tailgating with our son and his friends (yes…they spend time with their parents if you bring college kids great food!) and we feel gypped that Dave has taken that away from our family his last year at Michigan. We attended games before our son went to Michigan but are unlikely to attend anymore for the reasons you cited and then some. Dynamic pricing has guaranteed that our family can no longer afford tickets to a BIG game (last year I got right in when the Notre Dame tickets went on sale and was given the opportunity to buy four tickets at $350/each!). We did attend the Nebraska and Northwestern games and when all was said and done it set us back only $600 each time. This is NOT affordable for middle class families who are paying half their salaries to send their kids to college! We will be feeling bitter this fall in GR.

  153. football

    That brings us to quite possibly the most intriguing match-up to that point of the season when Oregon comes to Rice-Eccles.
    Gene Wojciechowski’s ode to college football is a great read.
    During matches rush for football tickets goes beyond any margin, and it becomes tough for the organisers to handle that.

  154. Bill Harrison

    John, thanks for your insight.I last attended a U-M game in 1993. Even back then, it was apparent that MONEY had taken control. As a season ticket holder for several years, Michigan football held a special place in my heart. I do not recognize this program. I had a nodding acquaintance with Don Canham, who loved to talk U-M athletics with anyone, and he respected the fan base completely. Someone should remind Dave Brandon of the quote from the late Bob Ufer,”At Michigan football is a religion and Saturday is the holy day of obligation”. Amen.

  155. Jeff Gottheim

    As an alumni of Michigan and living in metropolitan NYC, I have held football season tickets for more than 20 years and have attended at least 3 games per year. I, like many others am true blue and have supported the University in so many ways including a blind loyalty to the football and athletic program. Even though Dave Brandon and the current athletic program have taken a hard business approach toward the program as documented in many forums including “60 minutes”, I really continued to trust the movement as beneficial for the university.

    However, I must say that I am impressed by the admissions process as the U of M student body seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to intellect and a proper evaluation of how relationships should work. Most students are confined to a budget while pursuing an education and have acted quickly and properly in dropping their football tickets as price increases have certainly exceeded all economic inflationary measures and the product has been inferior. After receiving solicitations in recent years from the athletic department to purchase additional Notre Dame or Ohio State tickets at prices exceeding $300 per ticket (end zone seats) as they determined market value and increasing or doubling my annual seat license because they felt they could, I have been on guard. The tipping point for me has come this year as the athletic department has offered pricing discounts to the general public and anyone else who would be willing to see the weak scheduled opponents. As one who has great pride in the student body and those who have graduated from Michigan, I consider the solicitations for football tickets to me that are far less than what I have paid this season, let alone my tenure and investment over the years as an insult to my intelligence. I will always be a Wolverine but this will be my last year as a season ticket holder and it has far less to do with on field performance than a complete disrespect for those who have supported the moral fiber of the maize & blue tradition. Thanks to the U of M student body for waking me up to the reality of the situation. Go Blue!

  156. Carrie

    I’m not going to go on and on about this, but I just wanted to add something that may not have been brought to most fans attention. For those that remember, when were some of the prime tailgaiting spots taken from some of the fans? My grandmother and grandfather tailgaited on the corner of Keech and Main for over 35 years… thankfully my grandfather was no longer alive when we were told all those spots would be taken for vendors, they would not have heard the end of it.

    Our blood still runs maize and blue, but I can only remain optimistic for so long even as a long time fan and MMB alumna who dreamt of being in the marching band as a little girl. I no longer live in Michigan, but it makes me so sad that my family has attended every home game this entire time and they now find reasons to no longer make the four hour trek there and back quite easily. It used to be all we looked forward to the rest of the year.

    This article hits home because it’s not just about losing games. It feels like we could be losing an amazing tradition, it’s a hard loss during a difficult time in our country.



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