The toxic factions.  The divided clans.  There’s been much talk of the Michigan fanbase over the past few years since Lloyd Carr departed.

I’ve tried several times to etch out what “we” look like at a given point in Michigan history, and not only is it difficult (perhaps impossible) to peg, the groups change as we move through time. 

That said I decided to take another crack at it and I enlisted the help of the great Craig Barker of The Hoover Street Rag and frequent contributor Lew.  Before diving in too deep Barker suggested the following to put the Michigan football fandom in context:

.. there’s an 80-10-10 split on all Michigan fans:

  • 80% are casual fans.  They’ll watch Michigan when it’s on TV, they’ll perk their ears up if Michigan is being discussed on PTI, and their take on Michigan is heavily influenced by the Angel/Wojo/Rosenberg/Snyder/Sharp takes. 
  • 10% are serious fans, wherein they’ll watch Michigan, they’ll look for Michigan highlights, they’ll seek out national opinion on Michigan, they may engage in some discussion of Michigan on their Facebook/Twitter or maybe leave a Freep comment occasionally. 
  • 10% are obsessives.  This is the MGoBlog crowd and people who are actively trying to sway influence of other fans. Michigan is so much of their identity, it hurts.

    That’s about right.

    As far as those toxic factions?  Try this on for size:

    the_Michigan_factions

    [Ed. one note: this might be better represented as Venn Diagram <Rebellion—‘schwing’!> but that’d be a bear and I’m trying to watch a hockey game tonight.]

Clan Description Take on Hoke Hire

Bo Clan (15%)
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Former Bo players and those associated or feel very closely tied (e.g, alums or “Bo signed my hat when I was 9” folks) to that era.  Defense wins championships, people. Not really happy, despite Brandon having played for Bo. Glad there’s an M guy at the helm but upset it’s not Miles or Harbaugh. Suspect DB didn’t give Miles/Harbaugh a serious enough look.  Propagators of the theory that the interview process was a charade—Hoke was always the target.

The Rebellion (9%)
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Bloggers, message-board hounds, recruitniks. Statistical analysis shows, nay, proves that an innovative offense (RR/Chip Kelly) is what is required in Ann Arbor.  And you never punt, man. Carr’s tendencies became maddening in the final few years, and rumors of Carr steering recruits away from U-M make them slam down their X-box controllers in rage. Pissed. Feel that Michigan deserved a) a bigger name and, particularly, b) a man with a more progressive offensive scheme. Early love earned by DB is gone especially after he mucked up their “precious" – the recruiting class.  Now, “Brandon’s just another suit, man.” 

Any anger toward me after reading this was diffused by the appearance of a pie chart on this post.

Corduroy Jacket w/ Patch Clan (1%) 
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Affiliated with the University/Ann Arbor elite who feel we devote too much money to athletics, and feel the stadium expansion is wrong on many levels. They chuckle outwardly at people who spend their Saturday afternoons sandwiched between overweight men in a football 
stadium or in front of their televisions shoveling ‘Funyuns’ into their faces.
They are inwardly happy with the Hoke hire.  If the University must have a football team, at least they won’t be forking over the NFL-caliber wage that Harbaugh would have commanded.

In Rod We Trusted (5%)
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Die-hard Rich Rod-backers with close ties to The Rebellion. RR should have been retained. Their support was hardened by the negative media coverage coupled with the idiotic ad hominem attacks by sports radio callers and national drive-by columnists/hosts.  He never was given a chance. Not happy with how Rich Rod was treated. Would have accepted Harbaugh.  They don’t understand how Hoke could possibly considered a better option than Rich Rod.  Won’t say it aloud, but a tiny part of them hopes Hoke fails so they can tell the Happy-go-Hokey media and the Carr Clan to eat a big fat one.

Lloyd Loyalists
(20%)

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Former Carr players and those (alums) who feel deep ties to that era. Feel Carr’s Legacy is unfairly represented by many, including the Rebellion and In Rod Clans.  They "won"; they got their guy. Thought Hoke should have been a candidate three years ago. Feel some revenge for how Carr’s assistants were treated during the RR transition. 

Would like to tell the RR crew, “It’s over man.  Brandon dropped the big one.”

Cotton Pickin’ Blues (45%)
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The vast majority of "regular" M fans. Beyond sanctions and horrible & embarrassing results, they bleed Maize ‘n Blue. But the OSU, MSU and bowl poundings put them over the edge with ol’ Rich Rod. On board with Hoke, especially after the opening press conference (“TOUGH.  MAN’S. GAME.”) Their support will build as they learn more about Hoke and time progresses.  He’ll get a fair shake over the next few seasons from these guys – they are most of the folks sitting near you in Michigan stadium.

Fierce Pragmatists (1%)
image  “..football, hmm..”

Group that was good with Rodriguez & think he deserved one more year.  That said, they understand that DB had to fire Rodriguez as much for the "sense" of Rodriguez in the media and among the alumni and fans, as for the 15-22 record.  The man had become a toxic asset. They like Brady Hoke and want him to succeed.  They see a hardworking guy who has been given the keys to the kingdom (& his dream job). Whether he is capable of delivering Michigan to championship form is to be determined and they will objectively observe this play out. 

The Second Estate (1.5%)
image
 

Much like the Second Estate of Pre-Revolutionary France, they make up just 1.5% of Michigan fans, but they control a disproportionate amount of influence.  They are Champions Lot parkers.  They’re guys that Brandon sees and immediately knows he needs to go chat up.  (Note that Brandon, himself, would be of the Second Estate).  DB is loyal to them, but he is also well aware that he needs them.  They are Cotton Pickin’ Blues generally, they want wins the right way–no scandals, no embarrassment, no negative press. Brady Hoke is a wonderful corporate hire.  By virtue of their age, the Second Estate is a specialized subset of the Bo clan by and large and have anointed Lloyd keeper of the flame in the wake of Bo’s death.  Like Jack Donaghy, they really like fireworks.

The Decatur Clan (2.5%)
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The fanatical faction of Michigan fandom, named for Capt. Stephen Decatur of the U.S. Navy who famously said, "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!"  Basically "I love the guy in charge, no matter who it is today.  Go Blue!".   They loved Rodriguez through last week, now they’re full on Hoke-a-Maniacs, brother.  Would have been first in line for “DeBord’s DeDudes” shirts if the former Carr assistant was the choice.  They may have reservations about this or that, but they will never admit it publicly.  They’re the people who wanted Les Miles and covered their ears on "end of game/clock management" and "oversigning" and thought Gruden was a kick ass idea. 

Thanks again to Craig Barker of The Hoover Street Rag for the input and much of the text on the final three specialized groups.

[Update 1/17: I joined WTKA 1050AM Monday morning to discuss the clans and divisions with Sam and Ira, you can hear the audio here.]

P.S. I forgot the Violent M History Nerd Clan.   Follow MVictors on Twitter 

50 Comments

  1. Checking in for the Rebellion/In Rod We Trusted Crowd (with a hint of Fierce Pragmatist).

  2. Rebellion/Fierce Pragmatist here. I don't think there's anything in one that contradicts with the other: pissed at Brandon, hoping like hell that Hoke brings the next Wolverine NC.

  3. formerlyanonymous

    Fierce Pragmatist. 100%, not even a hint of anything else. But how does this make me toxic?

    • FA, you're not toxic but you're suspect

      • formerlyanonymous

        I can remain suspect, as long as I'm never convicted. Or so every career counselor tells me this.

    • So if you're formerly anonymous, how come I still don't feel like I know ya, you know? I felt compelled to ask.

      I'm mostly in the that 45% category, "Cotton Picken", however, I feel like gots a little "Rebellion" and "Bo Clan" persona too. Love the Hoke hire, I have a feeling our recruiting is gonna get back to the level where we were always in the top 10, if not higher.

      This guy can really charm people, stop people in their tracks (Drew Sharp), and has a great energy, when he's in the room, you know it. But to me, the most important reason it works for Hoke is because he's genuine and I think it's very cool that the U-M Coach has that going for him.

  4. Hilarious! Dude, cannot wait to witness the Rebellion meltdown during the first game when the Hoke-ster elects to punt on 4th and 2 from Western's 40.

  5. Firece pragmatist with a touch of Decatur (Navy man in me). MGoBoard item here: http://bit.ly/e2Vqe1

  6. Definitely a fierce pragmatist, and fiercely so.

  7. Fierce pragmatist here too, so why are we considered just 1%? are we the type that this blog attracts? recount! the hanging chads were not counted!

    • are we the type that this blog attracts? – Kind of. And here's a thought: dudes commenting on posts at 6:45 on a Friday (like me) are a unique subset of the Michigan fan base, no?

    • Victor, it is entirely possible that blog folks are more likely to be fierce pragmatists, and the numbers may grow as people come around on Hoke or realize that Rodriguez was not the worst coach ever. It's arguably the most fair minded group, but it also annoys people because they feel like we (as I categorize myself here) didn't choose a side.

  8. I think I'd like to think of myself as a fierce pragmatist, I don't know if others would agree with that, maybe that with equal mixes of cotton pickin' & the in rod crowd.

    Awesome post , thumbs up for you.

  9. Apparently I'm in "The Bo Clan Rebellion" with some Violent M History tendencies…

  10. Fierce Pragmatist, yup that's me. As a semi regular poster on victors and reader of mgoblog, I agree that a lot of blog readers are in the same category as I am. Most Victors poster are just pl

  11. Cotton Pickin'. I liked RichRod as a person and wanted it to work out, but the horrific defense and lack of compettiveness against good teams wore me down. Something snapped after the PSU game. Two weeks to prepare for a so-so team with a completely unproven QB, and we put up a stinker. Hoke is winning me over.

  12. As a Champions Lot parker, I'm a clearly Second Estate but Fierce Pragmatist fits as well. Loved Hoke's presser and hoping for a competitive team against 'Bama in '12.

  13. i hate to think i'm part of the masses, but i'm probably a Cotton Pickin' Blue. i think it's my "queme los barcos" attitude towards everything (in life).

  14. I feel most akin to the Bo Clan, but I have a Cotton Pickin' Blues attitude about the future. I hope for the best for and from Brady, even though not my choice, since he is a genuine guy and good coach.

  15. All Brady the Bruce has to do to unite the clans is a few W's. Pragmatist speak. Great post Greg!

  16. Great post Greg, thanks! Gonna bookmark this page for future reference as the season plays out. LOL I found myself with the Cotton Pickin' Blues crowd.

  17. I've never been part of the Rebellion, the Corduroy Jackets, the Second State, or trusted in RichRod unreservedly. At times I could be comfortable in any of those other groups, but ultimately I'm Cotton Pickin' Blues. Defense wins championships, Lloyd advanced the Michigan tradition, the RichRod experiment deserved four years minimum at the outset but he'd become far too toxic after Wiscy-OSU-banquet, and I'm totally behind the new guy — GO BLUE!

  18. Great post Greg. I would like to see the Venn diagram version too. I think the Carr faction is a subset of the Bo Clan and it seems to me that most the Rebellion were Rich Rod supporters. Wow, now that I think about it, this might become really complicated…do you know anything about set theory?

  19. Man, I think I fit in several categories, not just one particular group.

    I do believe RR was the wrong hire, but supported him.

    I am a life long UM fan who will support whoever the coach is, and believes fans have no say so in decisions like the coaching, are allowed to be upset, but shouldn't waste their time on being negative, and wanting UM to lose so someone gets fired.

    YOU SHOULD NEVER WANT MICHIGAN TO LOSE, EVER. GO BLUE!

  20. Count me in as another member of the Rebellion/In Rod We Trusted.

    Also that last 10% where Michigan defines my identity so much it hurts.

  21. Excellent and ridiculously funny piece. I think of myself as a member of the "Rebellion" who is now a "Fierce Pragmatist." I was so tired of the "play not to lose" approach of Carr, and clamored for a paradigm shift within Schembechler Hall. But the foundation of my faith in RR began to crumble after the Penn State game and completely destructed after Wisconsin. While I would have liked to have seen an out-of-the-box hire, I'm comfortable with Hoke, who I think will do just fine.

  22. Knocked this one out of the park Greg.

    Fierce pragmatist checking in with a slightly toxic sense of humor.

  23. DECATUR CLAN UNITE

    100% Decatur Clan. Maybe it's the eternal optimist in me, maybe time on the debate team taught me how to convince myself as much as anyone else of virtually anything. Either way, it's who I am.

  24. Proud member of the Bo Clan, because Defense does win Championships!

  25. This is wonderful.

    I only ask that you expand the chart. For each faction we should have pre-game activities, and post-game food choices, and where you'll find each section during a home game/away game/bowl game. Dammit, there goes my morning…

  26. This is an outstanding analytical tool. Possibly one of the best posts I have read on any blog during the past 2 months of "coaching change" discussions. In my opinion, the biggest significance of the firing of Rodriguez and hiring of Hoke was to reveal the fanbase's "true colors." Its been interesting (to put it nicely) to see the factions reveal themselves and their dark sides.

  27. I'd like to think that I'm in the Corduroy Jacket with Patch clan but, frankly, I can't wait to see Hokedick™ fail & be terminated.

  28. I am 90% part of the rebellion and 10% in RR we trust. I also agree with a previous poster about a different mindset at Schembechler Hall. Carr was indeed getting just maddening all throughout the 2000's.

  29. I suppose I would've been a member of "The Second Estate" if my Michigan degree had brought me the level of income to cover a parking spot in the Champions Lot. But I am content as a "Fierce Pragmatist.

  30. Decatur Clan member here to say: Divided we cannot stand but if these clans should unite. We will form a power greater than ever seen before by the big ten, the BCS, or all of College football!!!

    UNITE THE CLANS!!!!
    GO HOKE!!!!!
    GO BLUE!!!!!!!

  31. Time to stand up as a proud Lloyd Loyalist. I wouldn't say I feel revenge for the way Coach Carr's assistants were treated during the RR transition/tenure, just validated. It wasn't broken. (I suppose this makes me a validated Fierce Pragmatist as well, but I digress.) Coach Carr gave us champions to be proud of year after year. Hopefully, he'll be more visable during the Hoke era because he's one of the true Leaders and Best. Go Blue.

  32. Where my Cotton Pickers at?!

    There's a bit of the Lloyd Loyalist in me, too, I suppose. Either way, I'm definitely one of the ones who is very optimistic because of Hoke! I wouldn't be anywhere near this enthusiastic if we had Less "fluke-ish win over a now 6-7 team" Miles.

  33. Hoka-Hey Coach Hoke!: Best Name, Best Character, and hopefully, Best Coach: I had to stop and think about this hire for a while — having hoped for a rocket-shot coach like Jon Gruden, or Chip Kelly. Hoke’s won-loss ratio gave me alot of pause.

    But I watched Brady Hoke’s first press conference, and the man has genius. You cannot help but like him, just to hear him speak. He is a very compelling character, with a palpable, intense combination of genius, integrity and humor. Hoke’s no preacher, but he’s clearly decided he cares about what he leaves behind in his rear view mirror.

    This hire is a major step forward for Michigan. Michigan is known for athletic and academic excellence, and those who love Michigan know that we have been blessed — until three years ago — with Head Coaches of great character. Until RR — he of the wraparound cool, sunglasses, looking like a prison guard out of Cool Hand Luke. RR was – at a glance – a corner-cutter, all angles, pursed-lipped and seething. He lost huge credibility with his staff, and people all over Ann Arbor, with his schoolkid lies to the NCAA.

    But first things first: Brady Hoke may have the best coaching name in all of college sports. Brady. Hoke. Bear. Bryant. Fielding. Yost. “Urban Meyer” is interesting, the way a block of ice is. “Bobby Bowden” is pretty good — but not as good as Brady… Hoke. There is no name like it. Savor it. It even calls to mind the name of a racehorse — maybe a Kentucky Derby winner from the early 30’s? And Hoke even looks and acts like a racing guy, a walker or trainer you’d see around the barns, relentlessly devoted to his horses. Brady Hoke. And the name suits the man.

    Then there’s the way he looks. Quick look from one angle, and it’s a heavy Karl Malden. Then from a different angle, Buddy Hackett, that old comedian from the Johnny Carson show — and Brady has the same self-effacing, slightly unhinged rapid-fire, sometimes high-pitched delivery Hackett had (though Hoke seems to keep the hinges on the door; Hackett commonly blew off both of them.) From another angle, he has the gut-over-belly look of a character-actor movie sidekick. (Unless Judy gets him on a diet soon, he’s going to need the next-biggest collar size pretty quick.)

    But here’s why I’m won over: it’s obvious that he has a huge impact on the people around him, which is the result of two things: respect, and affection. By all accounts, he will not lie, and will also be honest when it hurts. He brings back integrity to Michigan, which had been our No. 1 asset until Rich Rod came around. So — for making this hire — let’s congratulate Dave Brandon. The process was unwieldy, and the delay may not have been just unnecessary but also a big self-inflicted wound from which Hoke and his staff may have some difficulty recovering; but it is a good hire, and Brandon deserves strong praise.

    Let’s pull out that Oglala Sioux incantation now, as a blessing and a thanks: Hoka Hey, Coach Hoke!

  34. This piece is hilarious. All the more for how accurate it is in reflecting the factions among Michigan fans. I am probably one of the Cotton Pickin' Blues with a heavy does of fierce pragmatist. I want strong play on both sides of the ball, but an emphasis on defense. I also want a squeaky clean program that teaches the players to be Michigan Men. But most of all, I just want to beat Sparty/Notre Dame/Ohio State and win the Big Ten.

  35. Funny to look at this again after a year’s time. I hope “st barth” has come around on Hoke by now.