one. Well, until Thursday when Dave Brandon did what Dave Brandon does. He didn’t merely announce his disappointing decision that the Michigan Marching Band will not be going to the Cowboys Classic in Dallas; he insulted everyone’s intelligence and made them feel lied to in the process.
But I’m not going to attack the condescending, ego-maniacal, corporate, soul-crushing, gasbag Dave Brandon. Not this time! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to do anything crazy like come out in support of Brandon. I’m not even a fan of having this game at an NFL stadium “neutral site” in SEC land (yeah, Texas is SEC territory now) in the first place. It already felt like a regular away game with no return trip from the opposing team, which is exactly what Michigan is now saying this is. The Michigan Daily reported that a nameless athletic department spokesperson said: “We are treating the Cowboys Classic game against Alabama as any other road game.”
But after my thorough research on the matter (reading The Michigan Daily and some internet message boards), I am not 100% sure Brandon is 100% the villain. Yeah, he secured seats for the band in the contract for the game, allowed them to have the impression they were going to make the trip (though I’m not aware he made any such promise), and then sold non-refundable tickets to the band’s family members. Sure, he is suddenly acting like he just discovered what it costs to send a band down south (something he could have probably ball-parked at the time of agreeing to the game) and is saying it’s a “practical reality” that he can’t fit the estimated $400,000 travel cost into his budget of $4.7 million that he is getting from the game. Yes, he has his spokesperson saying ridiculous things like “We have not taken our band on similar trips in the past,” as though Michigan has ever played in anything that could be considered a “similar trip.” (If “similar trip” refers to distance, the band was just at the Sugar Bowl which is similar. If it refers to the type of game, the closest comparison of past games would be something like the Sugar Bowl.) And it does seem a little confusing that he would apparently have to charter private jets rather than be able to fly the band commercial.
But how about a bus, marching band? I’m not saying I personally would like to take the 20-or-so-hour drive down and back between Dallas and Ann Arbor. But come on, you guys are college kids. Road trip! I don’t know if a bus was offered or what the reaction was if it was offered, but it strikes me as an option. After all, Brandon did say this to The Detroit News: “We don’t take the band to (regular season) games further away than a bus ride.”
Furthermore, do we really think Brandon—he who would paint #GOBLUE on the field for the spring game in some perverse move to promote his precious brand—is really going to let his team be showcased in a marquee, nationally televised game without all the pomp and circumstance? It’s obvious what he’s doing. He’s trolling for donations.
As The Detroit News pointed out, Ohio State found a donor to foot most of the bill for sending its band to Austin, Texas in 2006 for a game against the Longhorns. Brandon’s reaction to this possibility for a Michigan donor: “It would be great—tell them to call me,” Brandon said.
So, rest assured, the band will be there. This is all part of the master plan. First, create outrage. Second, wait for a rich donor to pay the freight. And then third, his favorite part, act like you’re the hero and say something really obnoxious.