The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 81 of 83

MAIZE N' VIEW MICHAEL SPATH been playing them for the better part of the past decade — depth concerns. Head coach Brady Hoke repeated what Rich Rodriguez said before him, and Lloyd Carr before him; sim- ply that the numbers aren't there to split the team into two. He's right. This spring, U-M's ros- M ichigan did not play an of- ficial spring game April 14 for the same reason it hasn't Spring Scrimmages Would Add Value ter included only seven scholarship offensive linemen, five scholarship wide receivers and three scholarship tight ends. They had enough bodies along the defensive line (10 scholar- ship athletes), running back (four) and quarterback (three), among other positions, but not enough overall. Under a proposal gaining some fill slots at noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. over two weekends, would be responsible for covering traveling expenses. Put- ting the onus on BTN allows for air- fare in cases where the two foes are not located within driving distance, and also allows the games to remain free, or cheap, for public consump- tion. Charging regular-season prices would destroy the integrity of the spring game. A modest fee, however, could benefit charity or the bottom line for the escalating budgets of the overwhelmed athletics departments. To increase the appeal, rules The Big Ten Network, which could traction in the SEC and ACC — first broached publicly by Clemson's Dabo Swinney — neither Hoke, nor any other college coach, would have to produce a roster capable of sup- porting a full maize versus blue or green versus white game. If Swinney gets his way with a piece of leigisla- tion Hoke would support, the NCAA will permit programs to schedule a scrimmage against another school. "I think that would be kind of cool," Hoke said. "I've thought of it before. In the NFL, they do that. Dif- ferent teams go to different sites and do three days of practice, whatever it might be. I think it would be kind of neat. "With limitations of 85 scholar- ships, your seniors leaving, depth and numbers, there's no question that would be something I would be interested in." Swinney's proposal demands U-M head coach Brady Hoke is in favor of a potential NCAA rule change that would allow programs to schedule a spring scrim- mage against another school. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN of its 12 teams against a conference foe, which is more feasible now with the division format. The ground rules are straight for- should pit the ones versus the ones for the first and third quarters, the twos versus the twos for the second and fourth quarters, and add a fifth quarter for the threes and fours. Of course, there will be detrac- ward: you cannot scrimmage a team on your schedule, which would elim- inate Ohio State, Michigan State, and even Purdue and Minnesota, from Michigan's options. The Wolverines won't meet Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana next year. Taking into account the schedules teams schedule an out-of-conference opponent within driving distance, but for the Big Ten, which doesn't have a sister conference of its same caliber in close proximity, that means matchups against the Mid- American Conference or Conference USA, and neither setup would likely excite fans or prove valuable to the Big Ten teams looking for a competi- tive experience. The best, and potentially only, not 82 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 of other teams, and the desire to minimize travel expenses, Michigan would likely draw Indiana, with Iowa facing off against Wisconsin, Minnesota versus Ohio State, Purdue and Northwestern, Illinois meeting Nebraska, and one-time rivals Michi- gan State and Penn State reacquaint- ing themselves. Creating an intra-conference to mention lucrative, solution for the Big Ten is to look within, pitting each scrimmage would be huge for the programs, the fans and the Big Ten Network. The players and coaches would have a greater opportunity to evaluate where their team is relative to other schools (and would be good for team building). Fans would enjoy seeing their teams in full game mode during a long eight-month layoff between actual contests. And the Big Ten Network would have ratings- proof programming to sell following the conclusion of the basketball and hockey seasons. tors — every program would be on the road one of two seasons — but TV wouldn't care who's home and who's not, the coaches and players can use the experience of playing on the road, and the fans should quiet as they sit in front of their televisions. In limiting the scrimmages to conference-only action, the Big Ten, the SEC, the Pac-12, and every other conference, would be forced to police themselves each spring, decreasing the likelihood that the haves will once again find a way to exploit the have-nots. The NCAA isn't moving on this legislation right now. At the moment, it's more brainstorming among col- lege coaches, though the discussion generated excitement on campuses throughout the country and will likely become a talking point in fu- ture NCAA meetings. Today's sports culture is always demanding more, and enacting a conference spring scrimmage would satisfy not only the masses, but would, more importantly, benefit the college football programs, their coaches and their student-athletes. ❏ 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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