"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Editor's note: with the recent influx of quality diary entries I'm reviving a short-lived plan from last football season and bumping my favorite to the front page once a week.This might be tricky during football season but we'll play it by ear.
UConn taking popular choice Virginia to the woodshed45-10 last year (sorry MaizeandBlueWahoo) Donald Brown the 27th overall choice of the 2009 NFL Draft Okay, it's UConn, the general reaction from the MGoCommunity has been, "UConn, why would we play them for the opener? Bill Martin is an idiot!" UConn's blog has caught wind of the opener and is pretty excited but has however noted our comments on the situation.
Man UCONN would be a HORRIBLE game. We all had illusions of grandeur for a huge opponent and per usual they get blown to bits.
It’s a lose/lose for UM! We win and no one really cares outside the fan base. We lose and we just lost to a middling to low BCS team from a weak, weak conference. I’d rather schedule a true pansy and just annihilate them.
UConn is worse than WMU. I hope it’s not them because a 7-5 team in the Big East does not deserve a home and home.
Ouch. Not our highest praise for the Huskies, they even said MGoBlog was "a simply fantastic website devoted to Michigan football". We do have a basketball program too, even if it is nothing like yours.To be fair, Connecticut, a program that has been in a BCS conference for less than a decade, is not our illusion of the Wolverines taking on the Bulldogs (no, not Fresno State) nor the Broncos. It's not the big splash that we anticipated to be sure, but this late in the process it's not totally a terrible "MAC-level opponent." They play in a BCS conference (the BCS is not every conference in the FCS Division, there are six BCS Conferences. The Big East is one).
Another reason that we are angry with this choice is the fact that it is indeed a home-and-home with the 2013 return game being played here. Rentschler stadium is not the Big House, it's only approximately 36% of the capacity. Michigan fans are frustrated with the fact that a precious OOC road game that isn't in South Bend is being played at a relatively tiny staium, and that Connecticut is getting a home-and-home instead of a 2-for-1 at least. Proposed locations for the return game include Gillette Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and the Meadowlands but are not legitimate choices because of this. Notre Dame screwed over UConn with the "5 games in South Bend, and the rest not in Connecticut" schedule which UConn did to get some exposure and go from "basketball school who has a new football team" to "big-time major college football program."
Not the Big House Thus Michigan is resigned to play a game in the state of Connecticut , which is nice for the East Coast fans and alumni who haven't seen a game out there since Michigan defeated Boston College in 1994, but not great for many others. Brodie proposed going to the Yale Bowl, which has more capacity than Rentschler. Michigan will be the biggest name ever to play there, and UConn is lucky to have a big-time team there while only sacrificing one away game.
The MGoCommunity is also not too happy with the fact that UConn is not a team with the "prestige" of another potential BCS opponent, such as Virginia (see above). The point is, Michigan doesn't need a phenomenal (read conference championship contender in a BCS conference) opponent next year. Reasons are here, in Michigan Arrogance's excellent diary. Some quick facts on Connecticut, not a lot is known around here about the Huskies. Most historical information (that being said, not much) found here:
The Huskies have been playing football since 1896, and in 1-A since 2001. (Interestingly, they and Villanova were both given the choice to become a football member in the Big East. Obviously Villanova passed).
They have been to three bowl games, going 2-1.
UConn tied West Virginia for their only Big East title, but WVU got the BCS berth because of this loss at the hands of Rich Rodriguez. More on Rich Rod versus Connecticut here.
This is how the Huskies have fared since entering the Big East in 2004, not phenomenal but pretty successful at 34-29:
In 2009, the Huskies look to replace 4(!) first day draft choices including Brown (above). They have a new offensive coordinator who looks to ignite an anemic passing game, which reminds me of Michigan's last year. They have a four-star former Notre Dame quarterback Zach Frazer who looks to lock down the starting job and a stable of backs to replace Brown. CFN, NY Times on Connecticut's 2009 season. We will be rooting for the Huskies this year because we want Michigan to beat a good team* in the opener. They are a young team and figure to be more experienced and successful next year.
*We know that a win is not a given considering Michigan's recent failures in the season openers.
Dan Orlovsky, former HuskyThus, 'tis Connecticut. A bunch of anonymous MGoBloggers will not change Bill Martin's mind (or a contract for that matter). This move does make sense as it is a BCS opponent, Michigan has a good chance of winning since by then Rodriguez should have the ball moving, and it is far harder to schedule and defeat a big-name opponent in real life than it is in a video game (I note your examples of Alabama-Penn State, and Ohio State-USC and counter with the seven mediocre opponents that PSU and OSU combine for OOC this year). Martin is reaching out to a very large alumni base out east and giving them a game in their vicinity for the first time in a long time, even if it is in a small stadium and a home-and-home (the largest athletic department in the country scheduled a home-and-home in Laramie, Texas plays at Wyoming this year). It's hard to call UConn a great, up-and-coming program, but the Huskies are improving and playing good football. Maybe it wasn't the Gameday game we were looking for, but it should still be a good game (which we will have a far greater chance of winning than if it was against Boise State or Georgia), the comparisons to the 2006 game against Vanderbilt are not fair. Kudos to Martin for scheduling the Huskies.
Nice post. Reading that Connecticut has a former ND qb, who left presumably because Clausen was going to be ahead of him, and the bullying of Connecticut that ND did, I really want to see ND get its ass kicked in that game. I do think UConn is a decent opponent, but I have to agree with those who think it's similar to playing App State in that winning doesn't mean much to observers and losing looks worse than usual.
A team that won a share of a BCS title in the last three years carries a different perception than a 1-AA team. But yeah, I get what you're saying, that the name carries little weight because of the "new program" status. People have to look past the name as they should have with Appalachian State. They were the best team in their state that year. IMHE they would have finished in the upper half of the ACC with their talent.
That App would finish high in the ACC is common knowledge in North Carolina where all four ACC schools now refuse to schedule the Mountaineers. The true game for NC supremacy is on September 5th: ECU v. ASU.
Thanks for compiling all the links and general info.
But why are comparisons to the Vanderbilt game not fair? If it's about quality of opponent I think it's totally fair. Trade conferences and I think you'd see Vandy perform as well as UConn in the Big East. But maybe you meant something different.
He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and his shipmates called him mad.
I think it's the fact that the two programs are very different, and the aspects of both games are totally so. When was the last time Vandy shared a conference title (yes I know, apples and oranges but BCS conferences are hard to win). UConn is a team that is gaining respectability and Vanderbilt had been stuck in neutral for decades.
Four first-day draft choices makes for a pretty talented opponent, especially they were all "Pat White, Mike Hart" examples.
I'm cool with Uconn as the season opener. I believe most fans had some pie-in-the-sky hopes of who the opponent might be. (myself included)
The general unrest seems not to be because Uconn is such a bad choice but because they are not Texas or USC or -insert top ten opponent-.
I have seen a few arguments that aim to hype the matchup. Claiming Uconn will be a GREAT game, hotly contested, and exciting. This is true. But App State was a difficult matchup. It was a bitter contest. I was tense and emotional the entire game. But no one would say that App State would make for a special season opener.
I guess what I am saying is that EVERY game is great. I get excited for all of Michigans games. But no two opponents elicit the same pregame hype as another. Wisconsin is a great game to get excited about but it does not compare to the butterflies I get for the week of MSU. MSU is an awesome game to get excited about but it does not compare to the anxiety I feel for the week of the Buckeye game. So while Uconn is a great game to get excited about it does not compare to how I would feel if we were playing a school from the SEC or the PAC10. So it is not that Uconn is such a BAD game (it is not) it's that Uconn is not Georgia or Cal or Arkansas.
Some posters who are grounded in reality have blasted others for saying "what if..."
They seem genuinely angry that a person can not squelch their imagination. Attacking anyone who would still dare to dream about what might have been. I say let it go. Nobody is going to make a run on AA torch and pitchfork. People will come to grips with this decision for Uconn. It is only when your ship of broken dreams crashes back to reality that one can judge with objectivity the merits and worthiness of playing Uconn. It will happen. It happened to me.
Seriously very well written and I 100% see why UConn is a great choice for Michigan as a 2010 season opener despite my crazy ramblings yesterday.
I live on the east coast now and and pumped to see the boys play one more time outside of my yearly pilgrimage to AA and the Penn State game every other year.
In good fun: I appreciate you posting that youtube clip. I'm not sure how I missed this game the first time around seeing as I always DVR those instant classic UConn vs. UVA games on ESPN U every year ;-)
But with a stadium that seats only 40K, where are these hoards of alumni going to sit since UConn fans will no doubt pack the seats for this one, and only a limited number of tix will be available, and a chunk of those to season ticket holders who probably don't live on the east coast.
Here's hoping they somehow change the venue to a nearby NFL stadium.
Sorry, but gotta disagree with you on this. There is a huge UM fan and alumni base in the NYC metro area (I even heard UM jokingly called "SUNY-Ann Arbor" while I was enrolled) -- of which Connecticut is a part -- not to mention an enormous east coast TV market that Big 10 honcho Jim Delaney desperately wants to tap into.
I think the biggest beef UM fans will have next year with this game is that UConn's stadium is so small -- i.e., not enough available tickets for UM fans. I could easily see this game being a 50-50 fanbase split, a la UM games at Northwestern.
Nice post. You make solid points. I will say that it kind of sucks vis-a-vis ND that we only get a 1:1 deal when they totally ripped them off, but oh well. I wonder if UConn will expand its stadium in the coming years. A big-time program really needs to be able to seat at least 50K.
Here, and I think someone else mentioned it (and maybe it was the OP in his diary), is to schedule a BCS opponent that you are pretty sure you can beat in the first game at the newly renovated stadium. Not much else to say. I'm on board with UConn and look forward to the game and the unveiling of the new Big House.
The only thing I take issue with is the very last sentence. Bill Martin shoulda been on this years ago. I guess I have no way of knowing he wasn't.... but given some of the other matchups that our rivals have managed to schedule, it looks an awful lot like BM dropped the ball.
I'm ultimately OK with the matchup. Just don't ask me to give Martin a pat on the back for this one.
If that is in fact what it was - a choice. Heck, maybe there just weren't any other options out there at this stage. Tough to tell what other schools like UVa, Pitt, etc. were saying, if they were indeed contacted.
All that notwithstanding, you've only managed to solidify my reasons for disliking it.
A) Yes, CFB world, UConn is a very solid program. Those who didn't know need to educate themselves. This is a very loseable game, whether in 2010 or 2013.
B) There's no real recruiting base out there. If you're heading east, ya don't go to New Englend to find recruits and get nat'l exposure, ya go to Va, Pitt, NJ, etc.
C) There's no substantial payoff there with the return game, as ticket sales (for New Englanders like me) will be hard to come by.
Put all that together, and you have nary a "Win" in the situation to speak of - not much positives if we win, and a whole lot of grief if we lose (even to a very solid team) Still hard to see the silver lining in this one....
A.) That is why Martin scheduled them, so what if they're a home-and-home, odd years are when we get Ohio State and Notre Dame at home anyways. Martin was looking to schedule a good program and ultimately that is what this is. Name recognition hurt us though.
B.) I don't think Pitt, Rutgers, or Virginia would help a whole lot in recruiting, maybe more than Connecticut but not a whole lot. This was pretty much a non-factor in Martin's choice in my humble e-pinion.
C.) The ticket sales go to the home team only, and frankly a game out there in a small stadium will b better than no game at all. If a 50/50 split occurs (as was mentioned earlier in the thread) there are still 20,000 Michigan fans and alumni at the game which is more than there would have been if there wasn't one at all.
UConn is a doormat. They're a poor man's MSU. With a stout defense, and an offensive playbook roughly consisting of three different off-tackle runs, it's best to just think of this as that mythical ninth Big Ten conference game.
It's kind of an insult to MSU's offense. I mean, they are an extremely impoverished man's MSU if they throw 5 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on the year. Frazer went 0 for 4 with 3 INTS against Pitt. Bad, bad, bad. They still went 8-5 on the year though. That's a testament to good coaching.
Gerg, put 10 in the box and see what happens. Odds are not much.
I'm OK with UConn as next seasons opener. It's difficult to negotiate an addition to your schedule only 13 months from when the game is scheduled and it seems like we had few options. We played Virginia in 1995 and this could be Al Groh's last year in Charlottesville, so they do not want that again if they have to bring in a new coach. I think a home and home with North Carolina would be great to schedule. Butch Davis has that team improving and the UNC campus is great to visit. We've also played UCLA several times in the past and that has always been a good match up.
Part of the problem is what's happened to ND recently
If ND had been a true power along the lines of a USC or a Florida the last few years (i.e, if Weis really did bring a schematic advantage), then I think a lot of fans like me would have had far weaker urges to schedule another strong team. ND is the supposed marquee team in our OOC sked, but they really haven't played like it much.
I still am unenthusiastic about UConn because I don't think playing them has much upside at this point in time, but if they win the Big East title this year and/or have an excellent season and win a bowl game of some note, then by opening day a year from now the matchup will look considerably better.
Occasional excess is necessary to remedy the deadening effects of moderation.