There is an unprecedented falloff in attendance this year because of an unprecedented constellation in our home schedule -- Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State all on the road. That has basically never happened in our modern history. I have not yet had the chance to ask Brandon if he was caught by surprise, the way that loyal season ticket holders reacted to that change. It is a huge deal, to people like me. It doesn't get talked about enough; and while Brandon probably didn't want it to happen, I suspect he had no idea how bad it would be for him.
There is also an issue with Michigan student attendance that is common to almost every big football program; many students showing up late, leaving early, and some not showing up at all. (How the heck do Michigan students complain about increased ticket prices, then buy season tickets and not show up?) I say this is common to almost every big football program because The Ohio State University gets an amazing student turnout.
There's been a lot of grumbling about seat license prices at Michigan Stadium. Nobody's gumbled more publicly than me. But Brandon has a superb business case that Michigan's seat license prices are on a par with Ohio Stadium, and a whole lot of other top tier programs. He's right.
Our home attendance this year looks like it will be a second-place affair. Second, to Ohio State. That will make none of us happy. But it's not much of a falloff.
There was a famous exchange between Don Canham and Bo Schembechler when Bo was first hired. They agreed on terms. Then, Canham wanted Bo to keep most of the Bump Elliott assistants. Bo said he wanted his guys from Miami. Eventually, Bo got his way and the Miami guys came and became legends themselves at Michigan, yet two or three of the prior Michigan assistants were kept on anyway. In the process, Canham and Bo merely had a handshake agreement. They hadn't signed a contract. Bo said to Canham, "What if we lose? Won't I be fired?" Canham replied, "If your teams are losers, we'll both be fired."
It's a great story, and I think it is true. (Both Canham and Bo told the story at various times.) But it also would have been a mistake. Canham's Michigan career should never have been contingent on whether a risky hire of a MAC coach worked out for Michigan. Canham was a genius. He created Michigan football and designed the athletic campus as we now know it. If Bo Schembechler had struggled, it would have been a tragedy to have also sacrificed Don Canham.
We'll see if Brandon's support for Hoke is "undying." NOBODY backed Rich Rodriguez like Dave Brandon did, in the ludicrous NCAA Stretchgate debacle. And yet Brandon's support for Rodriguez was obviously not "undying."