The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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maize n��� view ������ michael spath T Options For Future Night Games hirty minutes after Michigan had rallied for a 35-31 victory over Notre Dame in week two of the 2011 season, noise was still emanating from The Big House. U-M fans simply didn���t want to leave their seats, celebrating in song and cheering wildly as if the game was still being played out in front of their eyes. Athletics director David Brandon, who announced the night game in March and then spent six months planning every detail, stood on the sideline with minutes remaining in the contest, awed by what he saw. His vision had come to fruition in amazing fashion. ���I was down on the field for the last few minutes of the game and I just looked around. The entire bowl was on its feet with pom-poms shaking and music thundering and people stomping and shouting,��� he said. ���It was the loudest I���ve ever heard Michigan Stadium. ���It was an emotional moment for me. When you put lights at the stadium for the first time in 130 years, that���s a risk. When you schedule that first night game, there is certainly a risk. When you put the team in a different uniform ��� there is always somebody out there that wants to criticize something associated with change. ���And we took on a bunch of changes: flying two guys in on parachutes, and launching a new tradition with what we did in honoring Desmond Howard as our first football legend. These were all changes and things that were new and different, and to see it all come together, and how well it was accepted, and how excited everyone was, it was a magic moment. It was thrilling and wonderful.��� Michigan has not committed to a night game for 2012 or 2013 yet ��� there is plenty of time before an announcement needs to be made ��� but after the success of the Sept. 10 contest, the next evening affair is coming. Predicting who it will be, however, is no easy task. 2012 Air Force, Sept. 8: Brandon spoke 90��� the wolverine��� ������ October 2011 of detractors, who worry about a stereotypically rambunctious MSU crowd descending on Ann Arbor with or without tickets to the game. Though the game is scheduled prior to daylight savings, its lateOctober date is also not ideal because of potentially plummeting temperatures. 2013 Athletics director David Brandon said of the crowd for the Notre Dame game, "The entire bowl was on its feet with pom-poms shaking and music thundering and people stomping and shouting." photo by per kjeldsen about criteria for scheduling another night game ��� the game must be a big, important game, and it must occur before daylight savings time in early November. The latter essentially rules out rival Ohio State. With non-conference contests against Alabama (in Dallas) and at Notre Dame in 2012, and with a fourth date likely to be filled by a Mid-American Conference foe, Air Force is the only legitimate earlyseason option. However, the Wolverines and Falcons share almost no history ��� they���ve met once, in 1964 ��� while the Mountain West Conference school is not a big enough name to generate excitement. Illinois (Homecoming) Oct. 13: Michigan owns a .739 winning percentage in 92 career meetings with the Fighting Illini, but there is some appeal in this matchup because both teams could be up-and-comers in the Big Ten. U-M probably would not make an announcement until next spring or summer, and if Illinois and Michigan both finish strong this year, the game���s significance in 2012 could be substantial for these two Legends Division foes. Homecoming also adds an appealing element to the contest. Michigan State, Oct. 20: Michigan State is the most obvious opponent, but the Spartans have their share Notre Dame Sept. 7: This one falls under the old clich�� ���if it ain���t broke, don���t fix it.��� Obviously the rivals put on one terrific show this season, why not see if that atmosphere can be duplicated? It also makes sense because the two teams seem evenly matched the past few years, and U-M officials could almost count on a close game. However, the repetitive nature of scheduling Notre Dame would likely make this one feel stale. Plus, it���s difficult to see Michigan passing on the marketing opportunities that a different opponent would provide. Minnesota Oct. 5: With one of college football���s oldest trophies ��� the Little Brown Jug ��� on the line, the game would certainly mean something, even if the Golden Gophers remain a Big Ten basement dweller. Wild card, Aug. 31 or Sept. 28: With news that Michigan will host Akron Sept. 14, U-M has one open slot still to fill in 2013 and two possible dates to fill it. The Wolverines could opt to start the year in August, creating a bye after four non-conference games and before the start of the Big Ten campaign. Or they could slip an opponent into the Sept. 28 position, opening with seven games before a bye. The Maize and Blue have yet to announce who that foe will be, and with Notre Dame and Connecticut on the schedule, it might not be a high-caliber opponent. But then, it could be if Brandon eyes that rival as the perfect night-game opposition for the Wolverines. ��� Associate Editor Michael Spath has been with The Wolverine since 2002. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Spath_ Wolverine.

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