Brandon: Aggressively seeking "Big Games" in future football scheduling

Submitted by StephenRKass on August 30th, 2012 at 5:14 PM

In a brief article this afternoon at the Free Press, Dave Brandon shared that he is aggressively seeking to schedule big football games in the future.

Dave Brandon said today that he soon will announce games, possibly out to 2018. He implied that they’ll be against high-level opponents.

“You’ll see some matchups, particularly in the nonconference schedule, that will be a notch above some of the things we’ve done in the past. 

We are taking the approach that strength of schedule is going to be important (to the new playoff selection committee). Not just for fans because they love these great matchups, it helps sell tickets and keeps interest high. Not just because the networks love it, because they get more interest around the games or the broadcasting. We really want to put our program in a position where we can be rated against the best programs in the country, so we can compete at that level.”


Apparently, they were waiting until things shook out with the relationship with the Pac-10 (and whether or not we would be playing a game vs. the Pac-10 on an annual basis.) They also waited until things were settled as to whether the Big 10 would play 8 or 9 conference games annually.

I think the excitment over the Alabama game underscores the interest fans have in playing legitimate opponents (rather than "snacky cakes.") It will be interesting to see if Brandon is willing to make less financially on an annual basis in exchange for the benefit of scheduling competitive home and home games versus marquee opponents. I personally would love to see home and home games with top 10 teams across the country. This would also allow UofM alumni from California to Florida the opportunity to see the Wolverines in the neck of the woods where they live.



August 30th, 2012 at 9:09 PM ^

Wow, that's an awesome record.  There are only 4 schools that we played more than once that have a winning record against us:

  Cornell 6-12
  Army 4-5
  North Carolina 1-2
  USC 4-6

Only one of these, USC, is still a major program.

Tha's how you get to be the winningest program of all time.



August 30th, 2012 at 5:48 PM ^

I could see playing a game against UMass in Foxboro instead of UConn's low capacity stadium. Oh wait, we've tried that already? Anyway, if a team with a small stadium (40K or less) was willing to play a home and home, but have their home game in a larger venue, I guess that'd be ok, and better than playing on a field that wouldn't accomodate our fan base.


August 30th, 2012 at 5:44 PM ^

Until they let all major conference champions into a bona fide playoff system, scheduling games like this is playoff suicide.  Fans here are already referring to the Big Ten schedule as "brutal," but those same fans want to see matchups like the one this week.  Meanwhile, the teams that scheduled three or four tomato cans are going to get the limited berths currently available.

Evelkniebler Elf

August 30th, 2012 at 5:45 PM ^

As long as DB doesn't consider Utah to be "a notch above some of the things we’ve done in the past" I will be pleased.  There must be a way to increase revenue from these big games that is lost by not having them at the Big House.


August 31st, 2012 at 7:27 AM ^

Utah has been pretty good, and the move to the Pac-12 has been pretty good for their recruiting. Its a whole hell of a lot better than playing UMass, or as I like to call it umASS. Lets say that our four non-conference games are :

Utah, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, and Ole Miss. That, to me, is pretty good and a heck of a lot better than playing all cupcakes. 


August 31st, 2012 at 9:59 AM ^

The 4 teams you mentioned have the potential to be cupcakes themselves depending on where they are in their life cycles.  Utah is on the rise but in a few years if they step up big in the PAC12 they might have to deal with a coaching change if their coach is poached.  ND is ND - didnt we hand them their worst losses in program history within the past decade?  They might be on a new coach in a few years too.  Any directional school is usually a cupcake, and Ole Miss blows and has blown for several years now.


I'd love to see this as a nonconf if SOS is part of the playoff equation:

Notre Dame (for the tradition of playing them), Navy or Army to give a service academy some love, a top SEC school - USC, GA, FL, LSU, Bama, or Ark; and a good Big 12 school - Tex, Ok, Ok state.

Also, I'd love to see us play at hawaii for the extra game since you can schedule a 13th game if you play there, just so I'd have an excuse to travel to Hawaii.


August 30th, 2012 at 5:49 PM ^

I would love to go back to the days of UM playing better non-cons.  I can remember days of playing ND and sometimes 2 other teams from big conferences.  Seeing ND and 3 body bag games gets kind of boring.  The only thing that sucks is when you sign a deal with a team so far out in the future, and then 8 years later when the game actually rolls around they stink.  I guess you could stick to playing only truly elite programs, something Ohio has actually done pretty well when you consider their home and homes with USC, Texas, Miami (YTM), and Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in future years.  However, we are all too familiar that even that can go wrong (see Mich 2008-2010, Oklahoma 1994-1999, Texas in 2010, Ohio last year, et al.)


August 30th, 2012 at 5:49 PM ^

I dont mind Nuetral site games at all.....I kind of wish each year a power conference team could host a huge game remotely close to home.

I mean we have games in Dallas, Atlanta.....why not have a Big 10 team play at Lucas Oil/Ford Field for an opener and a pac 12 team play a huge game in Seattle at their stadium up there.

If anything at least some of the major college teams would be at least willing to play in huge nonconference games.


August 31st, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

I wouldn't mind a neutral site game if it was closer than Dallas to our home base.  Iowa is opening its schedule at Soldier Field in Chicago this year, there's a ton of UM Alums in Chicago, so that would be nice if they played a neutral site game in IL.  Ford Field would also work, it'd be like the hockey games at the Joe.  Having the game closer to the B1G footprint would allow us to make it more like a home game atmosphere than Jerryworld is going to have tomorrow.

Perkis-Size Me

August 30th, 2012 at 6:51 PM ^

I'm all for this, as long as DB doesn't consider the likes of Oregon State or Colorado to be "high-profile." Get Georgia or FSU up here. I'd love to see a game under the lights against them.


August 30th, 2012 at 7:05 PM ^

Michigan will soon announce a neutral-site game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The following season the Wolverines will face off against the Irish National Rugby team on the surface of the moon.


August 30th, 2012 at 7:07 PM ^

Brand name teams without premiere opponents already scheduled in 2017-2019:

USC (Texas in 17/18 but no one in 19/20.  Awesome home-and-home if it could be scheduled to replace ND the first of those years.)

UCLA is also free in all those years.

In the SEC, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee all have 2018-19 openings.

In the ACC, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, and (maybe) FSU are available.

The two big guns in the Big 12 are full up, but Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and West Virginia have space.

BYU is probably always open to scheduling home-and-homes given the issues with being an independent.  (Idaho would probably be willing to play a 3-1 home-away split given all the issues they're going to have scheduling, but, um, pass.)

In my mind, USC is perfect except the years don't align right for ND, so we'd need a one-off in 2018 (or two premiere games in 2019.)

Any of the SEC schools, Clemson, or FSU would be my preferred if USC doesn't work.  If I were going to bet, I'd say either Tennessee or BYU in 2018-2019.


August 31st, 2012 at 10:17 AM ^

If we couldn't get a home and home with USC and had to do a neutral site, where would you want to see it?  Do you think we'd be back in Jerryworld?  or split the difference geographically and play them at Mile High in Denver?  Or somewhere else I am not thinking of at the moment?


August 30th, 2012 at 7:22 PM ^

I love the strategy and hope we see some games in California. U of M has a huge alumni base here, particularly in the SF Bay Area and thebay area has one of the best football high schools in CA (De La Salle High where Amani Toomer went). In CA I'd like to see games against Stanford and USC.

Elsewhere Tennessee, Florida State, and Texas are on my wish list. Excellent recruting states after we fill up with the best that the midwest has to offer.


August 30th, 2012 at 8:17 PM ^

I have a long running dispute with my college roommate/best man with Tennessee football so they're probably my #1 ooc game followed by


Arizona State




August 30th, 2012 at 8:24 PM ^

1.  Michigan has a two-year break in the Notre Dame series in 2018/19.  UM tried to get Oklahoma for those seasons in a home-and-home series, but OU already has LSU those two seasons.

2.  If Brandon is talking about releasing schedules out to 2018, consider the possibility of another neutral site game sometime in that time frame.  Stephen Ross (major UM contributor and owner of the Dolphins) has indicated he'd like to see Michigan play a game in Miami.  With ND on the schedule thru 2017, there is a possibility that neutral site game could be in 2018.  Michigan also has two open dates in 2016 (home game with Colorado and road game with ND is already on schedule).

3.  The Michigan-Notre Dame series agreement allows either school to cancel or modify the series with a four-year advance notice.  Right now, Michigan's home/away schedule is uneven in that the Wolverines play ND, Nebraska and Ohio State all at home or all on the road at least thru 2016.  In 2015/6, Wisconsin replaces Penn State and UW goes on the same rotation as those three other teams. UM plays them all four of them at home in 2015 and all on the road in 2016.

This leaves open the possibility that the ND series will be cancelled starting in 2017 with another major home-and-home opponent replacing them that year.  This opponent would be one that Michigan would play on the road in 2017 (Nebraska and Ohio State are home games that year) and in Ann Arbor in 2018 (when UN-L and OSU are on the road) in order to "balance" the overall home/away schedule.

4.  The Big Ten schedules for 2017/8 haven't been released, so we don't know if the scheduling imbalance is going to continue those seasons.  Notre Dame doesn't seem to be willing to move the timing of the games because ND wants to play USC and UM one home/one away each season.  

5.  The Big Ten has opted not to play nine conference games and I assume Brandon is working on that assumption in putting together the non-conference schedule.

6.  Based on the future published schedules, Michigan will only play seven home game each season from 2013 thru 2016.  In past year, UM has played alternating season of seven and eight games, so this might be a trend.

Keep in mind that Bill Martin was reponsible for scheduling the home-and-home with UConn in 2013.  Brandon is responsible for the home-and-home with Utah which ensure the 2015 season will have only seven home games.  UM plays ND on the road in 2014 and 2016.  Will Brandon be willing to cap Michigan at seven home games in order to bring in better opponents?  Keep in mind that UM was one of the B10 teams supporting a nine-game conference schedule (which would have also capped UM at seven home games per year), so it's certainly possible.

If Notre Dame is dropped in 2017 (that would have been a home game for Michigan) and replaced by another major program (with that game on the road to balance the schedule), then UM would have seven home games that year and probably in 2018.

7.  Despite not being part of the national conversation at season's end for almost 20 years, Notre Dame is still the #1 brand in college football and if there's anything Brandon knows, it's marketing.  He has to know that ESPN will hype ND in the pre-season and any UM-ND game is going to get big ratings and will be heavily promoted by that network and ABC (plus NBC).  As the Under the Lights game shows last year, you also attract the crowds (attendance 114,804--and yes, I know it was also a big deal because it was played at night, Desmond Howard was honored, etc.)

So cancelling out on the Notre Dame series might be a difficult proposition.  But if he does do it, Brandon will have to secure a program with a similar amount of "buzz" for the networks, the lease holders on the stadium boxes, people who buy PSLs, etc.  That's especially vital if Michigan is capped at seven home games per season because it means the relative "value per game" has to be better than when there are eight home games.












August 30th, 2012 at 9:47 PM ^

Until I see a home and home set up with Georgia (who has open dates in 2016 just like we do) or LSU, USC, OK or other programs on that level, it's all smoke and hoohah. When DB says "that will be a notch above some of the things we’ve done in the past" he's leaving a hole big enough that BWC and Ondre could fit through after Thanksgiving dinner. DB's intentionally leading us to think "Ooooo goody, finally a home-and-home against LSU" when in reality he means single home games against Tulsa or Memphis or Colorado St.

coastal blue

August 30th, 2012 at 11:14 PM ^

For me, the ideal 4 game nonconference schedule would be as follows:

1: Tune up game against in-state MAC school.

2: Notre Dame

3: Big Name prestige program (USC, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas or new rich such as Oregon.

4: Mid-level BCS opponent or solid mid-major program (think Virginia/UCLA or SDSU/Air Force). 



August 31st, 2012 at 12:55 AM ^

this year's schedule is probably the toughest we should have....

no need to go all out on marketing. Look at what happened to ND...their talent level dropped as the SEC started becoming dominant on recruiting while ND's schedule remained tough year in and year out. 

In my opinion we need atleast 2 gimme games in a year.


August 31st, 2012 at 6:29 AM ^

gets very good recruiting classes, though they seem to have come down a bit.

They have two problems:
a) coaching talent (and indecisiveness around who is the qb)
b) not in a conference: no guranteed path to a major bowl and no interim goals (like win the division or conference) to keep them focused after early season losses

SC Wolverine

August 31st, 2012 at 8:11 AM ^

Brandon showed a lot of faith and vision when he scheduled Bama, even before the Hoke resurgence at UM.  DB can be a little maddening sometimes with his marketing, uniform innovations, etc., but you gotta love his faith and vision.