Dave Brandon Decides not to Bring the Band to Dallas

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03: The Michigan Wolverines marching band performs during pregame against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

As you may have heard, apparently the Michigan Athletic Department decided not to bring the marching band to Michigan's season opener against Alabama at Cowboy Stadium in Texas. Despite the ridiculously high price of tickets for the game, the obscene amount of money Michigan will be paid for playing in the game, the fact that seating for the band is provided in the contract, the amount of media and fan attention that will be paid towards the biggest game of the season's opening weekend between two of the most storied teams in the sport, and the fact that Alabama is, you know, bringing their own band to the game, Michigan's athletic department announced that the Michigan Marching Band didn't need to go to Dallas for the game. The reason:

I regret to share with you that it has recently been decided that the Michigan Marching Band will not be traveling to Texas for the Cowboy Classic game vs. Alabama this fall," Michigan Marching Band director Scott Boerma wrote in an e-mail to the marching band and later obtained by the Daily. "The Athletic Department is treating the Alabama game as a standard road contest, not as a bowl game. Therefore, there is no bowl-style budget available to bring the band to Texas."

Are you serious?

This is anything but a standard road contest. We sold a home game to play a neutral site game instead of actually sacking up and scheduling a home-and-home with somebody other than Notre Dame. Instead of playing in Ann Arbor in front of students and fans, Michigan will be playing in a stupidly excessive "showcase" game so that we can get a nice fat check from Jerry Jones. I guess if Michigan wants to schedule a marquee opponent, this might be the only option; that's fine, I totally understand. Still, we're not bringing our band because this is a "standard road contest" and apparently Michigan doesn't bring its band to those. We're playing the defending national champion on one of the biggest stages in college football, and apparently that qualifies as a "standard road contest." This is beyond stupid.

The most aggravating thing is that cost shouldn't be a consideration here. We sold our soul to get this game on a schedule, and we're getting paid as a result. We're getting $4.7 M for this game, more than enough for transportation and lodging for the band, and yet there's some extremely stupid reason why the band can't come. It's not like the funds aren't there: between this game, the rise in ticket prices for a pathetic home schedule (I honestly can't believe I have to pay over $200 to see a home slate of UMass, Air Force, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, and Northwestern -- I could pay less by scalping a ticket for each game), and considering that Michigan is one of the most profitable college football teams in the country, there's plenty of money. Is this just stinginess for the sake of being stingy? Did the Athletic Department somehow think that people wouldn't care about this? Can the AD honestly say with a straight face that this is a "standard road contest" while hawking tickets for an absurd amount of money? Are we honestly going to watch this game on TV and hear the Alabama Marching Band knowing that our marching band is sitting at home in Ann Arbor watching it with us? Isn't this embarrassing?

Dave Brandon has been a progressive-minded AD since the moment he stepped on campus. Despite being close, I'm not like one of those Luddites in South Bend that panics at the thought of change. Still, Brandon consistently rubs me the wrong way and I'm not the biggest fan. It just seems to me that he's trying to milk every possible cent out of the Michigan football program, regardless of the consequences. (Yes, I realize we don't have in-stadium advertising yet. It will happen eventually.) With this kind of progressive thinking, there are good ideas and bad ideas.

Good ideas:

  • Actually deciding to spend money on assistant coaches.
  • Night games at the Big House.
  • Renovating Crisler so it's no longer a dump.
Bad ideas:
  • Weddings at the Big House.
  • Horrible alternate jerseys.
  • Re-seating Crisler based on how much money we have.
Frankly, not bringing the band is a horrible move. Alienating the band and the fans is never a good idea, it's an absolutely horrible PR move when people are spending this much to come to the game, and it just looks pathetic that we can't afford to bring our band. Creating brand loyalty isn't putting a freaking hashtag on the field for a scrimmage, it's being able to sing Hail to the Victors after scoring a touchdown against Alabama. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brandon pull a 180 after getting a ton of negative feedback and triumphantly claim that "we've considered your input and decided to bring the band!" as if it wasn't a horrible move in the first place. As for now, it stands as a colossally stupid decision and I cannot wait to hear the derision directed towards us when Alabama's band makes the trip and ours does not.
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