The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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22 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2016 ity. Certainly, there can be additional things there. "It would be those two sports that can make the argument. Whether or not it will happen, they can make the argument that they would be in line as one of the last one or two teams to have a facility upgrade." THE NIKE ROLLOUT Michigan's $173.8-million deal with Nike received a holiday spectac- ular treatment, detailed elsewhere in this issue. It not only enhances a rev- enue stream for Michigan, it brings some sizzle to the plate in the form of the Jordan brand, with Michael Jordan himself serving as an honor- ary captain for the football opener this year. Nike and Michigan have been part- ners before, and Manuel insists this just makes sense. "We are very happy with the re- newed partnership with Nike," he said. "As we move forward, we know they are leaders in the apparel industry, and we are leaders not only athletically but within academia. For us, it's a great partnership between two of the best in the world at what we do. "There's a lot of excitement. The student-athletes, the coaches, the fans — everyone is looking forward to that relationship going forward, for many years to come." THE FOOTBALL FIX Hackett declared football "fixed" with the coming of Harbaugh to Schembechler Hall. Manuel, a former teammate of Harbaugh and someone who respects him immensely, isn't inclined to disagree. "In my mind, we have great lead- ership in Coach Harbaugh," Man- uel said. "We have great assistant coaches and staff, and great student- athletes, that are working hard to produce success on a week-to-week, year-to-year basis. "In terms of fixed, I see it that way as well. There are always areas that Coach Harbaugh is going to tweak and improve, things we need to do to continue the momentum. We're look- ing to build and expand the weight room and to build what we need for preparation for competition. "That will bring us up to speed with other top programs in the coun- try. There are always things we need to do to improve, but my feeling with Coach Harbaugh being the leader of that program is, yes, it's in the place where it's fixed." Manuel noted the athletic depart- ment should have a handle on plans and cost estimates for upgrading the football weight room by the end of August. Then it becomes a matter of developing fundraising plans and pursuing a design for the project, the timelines for which have not been set. Manuel also confirmed that Har- baugh proved a major mover in the effort to get Notre Dame back onto the Michigan schedule. The Wolver- ines travel to South Bend in 2018 and host the Irish in 2019, right in the middle of the Big Ten slate. "When I first started, he told me he'd like to see that happen," Manuel shared. "He had been in conversa- tion with [Notre Dame head coach] Brian Kelly about it. I thought it was a great idea as well … he, like me, values that series for Michigan and for college football." Never mind that Michigan makes a second straight appearance at Notre Dame in the series, a point that irked some fans. That was necessary to achieve a seven-game home schedule the following year, given the nine- game Big Ten schedule, with 2019 featuring five away conference con- tests for U-M. Also, some found a home game against Notre Dame on Oct. 26 — with showdowns versus Michigan State and Ohio State already slated in the final five weeks of the season — to be a head scratcher. Those making the call weren't concerned enough to veer from their course. "I'm looking forward to playing Notre Dame," Manuel said, in a mea- sured tone. "I look forward to play- ing them at any point in the year. "That's the way I look at it. That's the way Jim looks at it. That's the way the team is going to look at it. Whether it's in the beginning of the year one year and the middle of the year the other, you still have to pre- pare and play a great opponent. "We looked at when we were avail- able and when they were available, and it happened to be at that point in the season." Manuel also explained that, going forward, Michigan simply has to be aware of the Big Ten slate when ex- ecuting non-conference scheduling. He's committed to seven home con- tests a year, and that means working it out at the front end of the slate. He'd also like to see the annual Michigan is the only football program in the country to be outfitted by the Jordan brand. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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