January 2011 Archives

Mock Rock Adds to Fundraising Efforts for 2011

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Flyer for Pizza House Event (PDF)
Flyer for Noodles & Company Event (PDF)

One of the most enjoyable events of each school year is Mock Rock, as the University of Michigan student-athletes get together to entertain a sellout crowd with their dance moves and crazy costumes and, at the same time, raise money for charity.

This year, to help reach its 2011 goal of raising $100,000 from donations and ticket sales from Mock Rock, the U-M Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) has expanded fundraising efforts by adding two Restaurant Days.

"We've never done anything like this before," said Mock Rock chair Jordan Sexton, a fifth-year senior on the women's gymnastics team. "We always set our fundraising goals high, and last year we raised $70,000 from Mock Rock but we think we can do better."

The first Restaurant Day is coming up this Wednesday (Jan. 26) at Pizza House (618 Church Street). Fifteen percent of all orders will go to Mock Rock if the customer presents the benefit flyer (download as PDF) in the restaurant or mentions Mock Rock when ordering for takeout or delivery. This is an all-day event.

The second event will be at Noodles & Company (320 South State Street) from 4-9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10, with 25 percent of the bill going to Mock Rock if the customer mentions Mock Rock when ordering (download flyer as PDF).

"These restaurant fundraisers are a way to get the community involved a little more in the event and rally more student-athletes to the cause," said Sexton. "The generosity of these local businesses will help raise the profile of Mock Rock and hopefully bring in more money for three very deserving charities."

Three charities hand-picked by SAAC -- the Child and Family Life program at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Student-Athletes Leading Social Change (SALSC), and the Michigan Autism Partnership (MAP) -- will receive donations from SAAC from funds generated by Mock Rock, an annual variety show featuring skits from Michigan's varsity student-athletes. This year's event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Hill Auditorium. Tickets will go on sale in early February.

SAAC is also accepting Mock Rock donations online at its website. Donors may specify a team to receive credit for the donation or select "None" to make a general donation.

For questions or information on corporate sponsorship, contact Taylor Day at tayday@umich.edu.

The Big Ten Network has come a long way since its inception in 2007.

Dave Revsine, Rick Pizzo, Mike Hall, Howard Griffith, Gus Johnson, et al are some of the names you might recognize. But what about Peter Saul, Adam Brewster, David Nows and Brad Hewlett?

Saul, Brewster, Nows and Hewlett may not be big names now, but all are hoping to become recognizable in the future. Currently, they are U-M students that cover Michigan sports for the Big Ten Network, and they cover it well.

Many years ago, WOLV-TV, Michigan's student-run TV station, brought a few Michigan sporting events to a small crowd on Comcast Channel 22. Ice hockey and women's basketball were the two sports that benefited from this coverage.

Today, the same basic idea is taking hold with the Big Ten Network. Instead of a few people in Washtenaw County viewing just a few events, these students are now able to show what they can do on a national stage.

Alex Prasad, a Michigan student, has helped build the Michigan "student" brand on the BTN. Prasad has become the unofficial executive producer for all Big Ten Student U productions that are done in Ann Arbor, with his co-producers Evan Dougherty, Peter Saul and Matthew Dupree. During these two terms, at least 40 events will be broadcast on www.bigtennetwork.com, with many of these events advancing to the network brand on the BTN.

"When we started off one year ago, we were just worrying about surviving," said Prasad. "If we could get a picture and some audio we were happy.

"Now, we are much more strategic and hopefully building for the future."

The idea to engage students to develop digital content for the BTN web site was the main idea behind this student program. Once the programming started to improve and the technology available to the Big Ten schools was leveraged by the BTN, the next step was network TV.

"We came across this opportunity to work on what was the best way to create streaming for the Internet with a 'Flypack' concept," said Rex Arends, BTN's director of technical operations. "We built it (equipment) and with the HD cameras and the CIC Internet connection available in the Big Ten, the quality of the video looked better than what came over the satellite."

There is very little compression needed for the HD files, and when BTN executives looked at what was coming across the control room monitors, he said, "Let's try it during the overnight hours."

The students set up, produce, direct and announce these sporting events. They use up to three cameras, have a video/audio suite, headsets, graphics package, announce box and scoring strip all built by the BTN. The network does add a quality control person in its Chicago control room to monitor every event.

The programming impressed so many other execs at the BTN that now the Student U broadcasts air in all parts of the day and even some fringe prime time.

Michigan does have some unique challenges to keep that quality broadcasting. Some other conference schools have broadcasting courses to help bring students into the program; U-M has to find volunteers.

"It is a unique challenge since we have no broadcasting program here at Michigan, so we have to recruit," said Prasad. "The lack of a program does provide one advantage: the students we get are highly motivated and passionate because they want to do this."

Like football and basketball teams, the competition is also heating up for these broadcast teams across the conference, and the passion of the U-M students has made the Wolverine broadcasts some of the best on the BTN.

"We are growing but we need more students to replace those who will be leaving," said Prasad. "If we can recruit more students, I see no reason why we shouldn't be the best in the Big Ten."

Interested in becoming part of the Student U team? Michigan is currently seeking students who are interested in the broadcasting field. The application deadline is Jan. 28, 2011.

Brandon Can Finally Relax After Whirlwind Week

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The whirlwind search process was over, and as athletics director Dave Brandon finally sat down in the Jack Roth Stadium Club above Michigan Stadium, he finally had a few minutes to relax and laugh about the one week he will never forget. The day wasn't quite over, but the search and the announcement of Brady Hoke as U-M's new football coach were done.

Brandon talked about "Flight Tracker" and how the private jets were followed on the Internet by media and fans alike. He laughed when he told the stories of how he was sitting, interviewing a coach from his undisclosed confines.

"I am interviewing this coach and I am being called by all these people who either want to warn me that the media will be waiting for me or media trying to confirm my whereabouts," said Brandon. "And I am sitting there doing this interview and really no one knows where I am. It was amazing."

A maize and blue jet had been chartered for someone else, and, ironically, the destination was Baton Rouge. Brandon laughed about what that plane's passengers must have been thinking when they exited the aircraft and saw the media.

He talked about the days when he was being recruited to play football at Michigan in the 1960s. He remembered the newspaper headlines "Bo Who?" and chuckled at "how they tried to say and spell Schembechler."

Finally, Brandon could laugh. He had introduced the new coach, answered the questions he knew he would face, and studied the reaction U-M's new head coach was getting from the number of supporters and the football players that spanned decades.

And the reaction was just what the doctor ordered: positive.

Brandon knows today was just the first episode of the story. He knows Hoke has his work cut out for him. But today was special.

I don't know if Brandon relaxed a little when Brady told the media he would be here "forever" or if it was when Hoke became emotional talking about his former players and saying they were his family's sons. Maybe it was just Hoke's demeanor or when he talked about the "school down in Ohio."

I do know that Brandon feels comfortable because he has the coach he wanted in the first place. A good coach, but even more than that, a good man.