Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A.D. Bill Martin fills Sept. 1st date with FCS team and sacrifices Michigan tradition,standards

In an affront to Michigan football tradition and the school's standards of excellence, Athletic Director Bill Martin has filled the Wolverines open September 1st date with a FCS (f/k/a Div. I-AA) team. Michigan had been one of the few big name FBS schools that had never played a FCS level school. A.D. Martin protested that scheduling Appalachian State as the Wolverines opponent for the 2007 home opener was the best choice. His "reasoning" (and I use that term loosely) went along the following lines: (1) Michigan "needs" to have eight home games to generate revenue for the sports program; (2) Scheduling a higher profile opponent (e.g., Stanford) would have required that Michigan negotiate a home/away package deal with the oppenent rather than a one-game home stand; (3) Michigan has a tough 2007 non-conference schedule with Notre Dame and Oregon and so it needed another patsie; (4) Michigan has an "attractive" home schedule in 2007 so fans should not complain about the addition of a throw-away game.

In choosing an opponent for the home opener, A.D. Bill Martin had a chance to signal to the college football world what makes Michigan Football great. Michigan Football, much like the University in general, is about excellence and tradition. In singing Michigan's fight song, Wolverine fans shout about being, "The Leaders and Best." The University of Michigan advertising campaign tagline is "The Michigan Difference." Michigan Football had a chance to lead by scheduling a big-time opponent when so many schools (including OSU) are scheduling FCS teams. However, A.D. Martin blew this opportunity. Rather than be a leader he was merely one of the many college administrators across the nation to schedule a FCS team for what amounts to an exhibition game. The loss of prestige Michigan will suffer from scheduling an FCS opponent will far outweigh any benefits derived from gate receipts from hosting this eighth home game. Conversely, the long term benefits Michigan would have derived from scheduling a big-time opponent in 2007 would far outweigh the "loss" caused by the fact that Michigan would only have seven home games in a future season when it played on the road in the return game. A.D. Martin badly miscalculated the cost/benefit analysis of this situation.

A.D. Martin feels he does not need to concern himself with the quality of Michigan's opponents because the fanbase of the Wolverines is so large that Michigan Stadium will be sold out regardless. It is simple supply and demand. With demand for tickets at a premium, A.D. Martin knows that Michigan can charge full price for this "garbage" game and the stadium will still be at overflow capacity. Thus, there is no incentive for A.D. Martin (in his shortsighted perspective) to bring in a "big-name" opponent. However, in the long run, the team's reputation will be damaged by such antics as scheduling second-tier opponents. Lack of prestige will cause a drop in merchandise sales revenue and that will be a bigger problem in the long haul than whether Michigan hosted seven or eight home games. A.D. Martin's predecessor, Tom Goss, was eviscerated by fans for tampering with tradition when he made the cosmetic change of adding the Halo to the stadium. The action of A.D. Martin of scheduling a FCS team, which directly impacts the product on the field, is much more significant than a cosmetic change to the stadium. A.D. Martin has made a significant mistake and Michigan will pay a steep price with its reputation as a result. Go Blue.


At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the most prescient articles ever... You are 100% on... the loss to App St. was one of the worst losses in history by any BCS-conference team...

Surprised no one else has commented on this...


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