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08/13/2017 - 5:18pm Callaway is also UF's primary punt returner . . . .

Callaway was Florida's primary punt returner as well as their best wide receiver.  The DE Davis played in every game last year and was second string on the UF depth chart.

The other players probably wern't going to be major contributors this season--a couple are true freshmen.


08/11/2017 - 9:45am There will be no college football by 2037 . . .

There will be no college football by 2037 because we'll be in the midst of a climate change crisis that will cause massive changes to how societies operate--including the elimination of major sports across the board.  Besides the Olympics, World Cup and all the professional leagues in this and other countries, college athletics will also be on the chopping block.

The NCAA, the conferences and the universities have a few different paths and timelines to get to that point.  I suspect they will opt to shut down college athletics over an announced period of time (five years?) in order to allow athletic departments time to plan how to mothball facilities, deal with financial issues, etc.

I suspect we'll start seing changes in the latter part of the 2020s.  In football, for example, we could have fewer games, no post-season bowls or playoff, changes in recruiting rules, fewer or no athletic scholarships and conferences rearranged by geography.  We might eliminate long trips for non-conference games (the 2027 trip to Austin to play Texas might be the last of its kind) or just eliminate non-conference games altogether.

Let's say, for example, in 2028 that the NCAA caps the number of football games per year to eight, eliminates the post-season and decides the national championship by popular vote.  Teams play a round-robin within a conference that is geographically bound (to reduce the carbon footprint), then the sportswriters or coaches or some other body votes on the national champion.

A nine-team conference that included Michigan in 2028 might include, for example, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburgh.  Each team plays one another, a conference champion is crowned and then there is a vote after the season's over to see if that team is the national champion.

I suspect that as this happens, smaller schools in both the current Power 5 and non-Power 5 conferences may opt to fold up shop earlier rather than later.  That means the number of programs in Division 1-A/FBS will be markedly reduced.


02/09/2017 - 1:50pm Didn't David Brandon suggest something like this?

I don't have Bacon's book in front of me, but I seem to recall that Brandon proposed some sort of flexible schedule with games scheduled in the latter part of the season based on the results in the front part.

10/04/2016 - 11:31am So Harbaugh drinks chocolate milk with his fish sticks . . .

Why am I not surprised by the idea that Harbaugh drinks chocolate milk with his fish sticks?

Did the company film this commercial at Harbaugh's house in Ann Arbor?  It sure looks like it.

10/04/2016 - 11:28am Last year's Maryland game was moved up . . . .

Last year's game at Maryland was supposed to be played at night, but it was moved up to noon because of predictions for exceptionally inclement weather.

I can't see any reason why Rutgers and the Big Ten can't follow that precedent.  RU is planning a big "red and black" evening, but Maryland was planning on something similar last year and the Big Ten still opted to play the game early in the day because of the possibility of major storms in the area.

09/26/2016 - 11:44am Long was on the field late in the game . . .

Take a look at the play towards the end of the game when the Penn State running back fumbles the ball.  You'll see Long (#22) lined up to the bottom of the screen covering a wide receiver.  He'll also be visible as one of the players congratulating Hill (#24) for the fumble recovery.

Other players in the secondary in the video were Metellus (#13) at safety along with Thomas (#25).  Uche (#35) was at LB.

I hate losing Jeremy Clark not only because of his size and experience, but because this was his last season at Michigan.  Fingers crossed that he gets a sixth year (no doubt Michigan will apply for it), but I'd be doubtful at this point.

After the Wisconsin game, U-M goes to Rutgers, has a bye week, then host Illinois.  Whoever does emerge as Clark's replacement is likley going to have time to work on his responsibilities not only in practice but in a few live games before the Michigan State contest.



08/25/2016 - 12:58pm I think the first note of displeasure . . .

I think the first note of displeasure with Manual was his comments surrounding night games.  I realize the Under the Lights events are tarnished because Brandon was responsible for setting it up, etc., but I think those three games (especially the first two) were very well done.

Manual's comments, OTOH, sounded like he hadn't given night games at Michigan any real consideration.  His comments seemed a bit flippant and they indicated his perference, and not the fans.  He also didn't seem to appreciate how having Michigan playing in prime time would be a boost to the university and the football program in terms of viewership,publicity, etc.

Now he has hinted about having a night game in Ann Arbor in the 2017 season, so it appears to me that he's gotten the message from the fans and alums.  Add in major contributors, regents, the Big Ten Conference and the television networks and I suspect he's gotten a lot of unsolicited feedback from his original comments.

We'll see what happens.  The obvious choice staring him in the face next year is the Michigan State game scheduled for October 7.  The only other home game in October is Rutgers on the 28th and then Minnesota is the first Saturday in November.

If MSU is next year's night game, then he's been able to convince a lot of people that it can be pulled off with a high level of safety and security.  Michigan has shied away from making that game against the Spartans a night time contest in the past, so if Manual is able to pull this off, the I'll say well done and good luck.

08/25/2016 - 12:47pm I have never read anything . . . .

I have never read anything about the negotiations surrounding how the Big Ten was going to go from an eight game confernce schedule to nine games when Maryland and Rutgers were added to the B1G.  I don't think anyone knows what the different parties asked for, etc., but as another poster pointed out, Michigan State now has both Michigan and Ohio State on the same home/road scheduling rotation.  Does anyone know if that's what MSU really wanted?

Take a look at the MSU home opponents in 2017 (when Spartans play U-M and OSU on the road)--Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa, Indiana, Penn State and Maryland.  

Now look at Michigan 2016--Hawaii, UCF, Colorado, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maryland, and Indiana.  

With the exception of the ND game at MSU in 2017, the two schedules are roughly comparable.  If anything, I would imagine that MSU would be happy to swap dates with Michigan so they could get U-M and OSU on different home/road scheduling rotations.

Looking at the 2016 to 2019 schedules, I think it's pretty clear that the Big Ten wanted to have two of Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State to play either at Rutgers or at Maryland each year.  For those two teams, UM/PSU are on one home/road scheduling rotation and MSU/OSU are on the other each season.

For Michigan, the conference then had to decide how to divide up the remaining four Big Ten East opponents.  For whatever reason (and this goes back to when the Leaders and Legends Divisions were set up in 2011),  the B1G has consistently put PSU above MSU.  The rankings for those teams then ended up at 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Michigan State and 4) Indiana.  How do you balance this out?  By putting 1 and 3 on one schedule rotation, i.e., OSU and MSU and having 2 and 4 (PSU and IU) on another rotation.  And there you have it.

The other thing the conference did to compensate for this was to make sure teams between the two divisions played an opponent that was relatively the same in the divisional pecking order.  For Michigan, that program is Wisconsin, who the Wolverines will play every season between 2016 to 2019.  Here at the other matchups:

Maryland - Minnesota

Penn State - Iowa

Ohio State - Nebraska

Michigan State - Northwestern

Rutgers - Illinois

Indiana - Purdue (fixed game each season)

So from 2016 to 2019, here are the two home/road rotations for Michigan -

Rotation 1 - Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Indiana, Big Ten West Opponent

Rotation 2 - Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers, Big Ten West Opponent

I guess the "compensation" for having OSU and MSU on the same road/home scheduling rotation is that those season when those games are one the road are the same when Michigan is hosting five conference games in Ann Arbor.  

Now it's obvious that Warde Manual has listened to the fans and ticket holders who want to see those roations flip flopped and that he's approached or will approach the Big Ten and all the other programs in the conference about fixing it for the next scheduling rotation starting in 2020.  If he is successful, then here's what the scheduling rotations might look for 2020 to 2023 (assumes Nebraska or Iowa replaces Wisconsin as the fixed opponent each year):

Rotation 1 - Michigan State, Nebraska or Iowa , Maryland, Indiana, Big Ten West Opponent

Rotation 2 - Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Big Ten West Opponent

Keep in mind that Michigan is scheduled to play at Washington and host Ball State plus Virginia Tech in 2020.  If Manual plans to play seven games per year, then the VaTech series will get cancelled and that home-and-home with Washington is put into Rotation 1 for the 2020/1 seasons.  

That means U-M will play at Washington, at Ohio State, at Penn State, at Rutgers and at one TBD Big Ten West opponent in 2020 while the home games are two non-conference TBD (or one TBD plus Ball State), Michigan State, Nebraska or Iowa, Maryland, Indiana and one Big Ten West opponent.

08/23/2016 - 3:21pm Remembers the Leaders and Legends Divisions . . .

When Nebraska joined the Big Ten and we saw the introduction of divisions in the conference, the B1G essentially went back to 1993 (when Penn State played its first year of competition) and ranked the teams accordingly. 

The four top rated teams were divided into the two divisions--Michigan and Nebraska in the Legends with Ohio State and Penn State in the Leaders.  Then the next tier of teams were "seeded" into the two divisions, etc.  The whole idea was to set aside geography and make them relatively equal in terms of competitiveness.  This was all decided in 2011.

LEGENDS: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

LEADERS: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten officially in July 2014 and the new East and West Divisions were put in place for the upcoming season.  In this case, the Big Ten went with geography and not with competitive balance.

That said, the Big Ten still perceived Penn State > Michigan State by whatever metric they used.  They clearly didn't look at the recent success of those two programs because MSU was 29-10 from 2011 to 2013 while PSU was 24-13.  It may have been which program had a higher historical profile, which one was considered a blue blood, how the networks perceived the programs, etc. 

So when it came to rank the other teams Michigan had to play in the Big Ten East (other than Maryland and Rutgers), it appears that  it was 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Michigan State and 4) Indiana.  At that point, you combine #1 with #3 and #2 with #4 to balance out the schedule as best as possible and that's how we get OSU and MSU on the same home/road schedule rotation.

I realize all this thinking sets aside the fact that most Michigan fans see Ohio State and Michigan State as their two primary rivals (and I would add Notre Dame as a third when the series between U-M and ND was taking place--that game was probably ahead of UM/MSU as well in terms of importance).  If the Penn State program hadn't declined the way it did in Paterno's latter years, then maybe the UM/PSU rivalry would be viewed differently today.  But it is what it is at this point and a lot of fans want to see OSU and MSU on different schedule home/road schedule rotations regardless of previous year records, etc.







08/23/2016 - 12:19pm I actually suspect it was the Big Ten's idea . . . .

When Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten and became part of the new East Division, the conference wanted to make sure that the four major teams in the division--Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State--made two visits apiece to College Park, MD and Piscataway, NJ each season.  As it turned out, U-M and PSU were put on one home/road schedule rotation for those two teams while MSU and OSU were put on the other.

Once that decision was in place, the conference then had to decide how to rank the four remaining teams in the Big Ten East on Michigan's schedule.  Back when the conference had the Leaders and Legends Divisions, the B1G had Penn State ranked above Michigan State and it appears they kept those relative standings when the divisions were recast after Maryland and Rutgers joined.  Like it or not, the Big Ten had 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Michigan State and 4) Indiana and they put #1 and #3 together in one home/road scheduling rotation (OSU and MSU) with #2 and #4 (PSU and IU) in the other home/road scheduling rotation.

That's why we have Ohio State, Michigan State and Rutgers in one home/road scheduling rotation and Penn State, Indiana and Maryland in the other.  The conference also opted to schedule teams from each division against one another over a four year cycle based on their relative strengths in that particular division (I assume to make it more attractive to the television networks).  For U-M in the 2016 to 2019 time period, that team is Wisconsin.  UW was placed in the same schedule rotation as PSU, etc., so here are the two home/road schedule rotations for the next four seasons:

Rotation 1:  Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers

Rotation 2:  Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Indiana

With the nine team conference schedule starting in 2016, that meant rotating two teams from the West Division onto the schedule each year.  Here's what that looks like:

2016:  at Iowa, Illinois

2017:  at Purdue, Minnesota

2018:  at Northwestern, Nebraska

2019:  at Illinois, Iowa

That's how I suspect the conference "built" the 2016 through 2019 schedules and this is why we see both Ohio State and Michigan State on the same home/away schedule rotation the next four seasons.

I assume that Manual has or will lobby the conference to get the home/road rotations changed for Michigan with the next four year schedule plan going from 2020 to 2023.  The most sensical way to do this would be to flip-flop Michigan State and Penn State so that the new rotations for that time period look like this:

Rotation 1:  Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers

Rotation 2:  Michigan State, Maryland, Indiana (plus one Big Ten West team, probably Nebraska or Iowa)

We'll see what happens.  The Big Ten membership has to sign off on this for it to happen.

The obvious irony behind all this will be what happens if Penn State and Michigan State revert back to their historic norms.  Will fans still be happy to see both OSU and PSU on the same home/road schedule rotation then? 

I remember when Penn State joined the Big Ten--to use an oxymoron, it was an "instant rivalry" when that first game was played in 1993.  To my mind's eye, those games in that decade between those two teams were much bigger than the U-M/MSU contests (ex. Judgment Day game in 1997).   Michigan went 4-3 against Penn State during that decade by winning the first one, losing the next three then winning the final three.  That said, U-M also went 4-3 aginst Michigan State in the same time frame, but those MSU teams weren't on the same par as PSU (Penn State went 5-2 against Michigan State those years).


07/08/2016 - 12:43pm If you swap the MSU game . . .

When Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten and the conference established the two divisions, it became obvious that the B1G wanted two of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State to play each sease either at Maryland or at Rutgers.

Once that was established, the conference then had to decide how to rank the remaining teams in the Eastern Division.  Based on what happened with the schedule, it looks like they kept the same rankings that were in place when Nebraska joined and the B1G had the Leaders and Legends Divisions.  Ohio State was #1, Penn State, #2, Michigan State was third and Indiana was ranked fourth.  The conference evidentally thought it wise to put #1 and #3 on one home/road schedule rotation and #2 and #4 on another.  That's how Ohio State and Michigan State both ended up as either home or road games.

So if you swap the MSU game and put it opposite OSU, then the conference probably also needs to move the home/road roation Michigan has with Penn State (rather than Indiana).  The new home/road rotations for the Eastern Division would then be:

Rotation 1:  Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, One B1G West Team

Rotation 2:  Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Two B1G West Teams

Would people be happy with this?  Keep in mind that the Big Ten has also planned to have teams from the East and West play one another based on their relative strengths over a four-year cycle.  That's why Wisconsin is on Michigan's schedule from 2016 through 2019 and is currently lined up on the same scheduling cycle with Penn State, Indiana and Maryland.  

Fast forward to 2020 and let's assume we have the swap I mentioned above is in place and Nebraska is on the schedule from 2020 through 2023.  Then this is what the rotations would look like:

Rotation 1:  Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, One B1G West Team

Rotation 2:  Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, One B1G West Team

People need to keep in mind that it's not as simple as moving Michigan State.  A second Big Ten East team (probably Penn State) has to be swapped as well.  You also have to consider what Big Ten West team is going to be on the 2020 through 2023 schedules each season.  It would probably be Nebraska with perhaps Iowa being the second choice.

Manuel also said that having seven home games each season.  Assuming the Big Ten keeps the same rotation of five and four home conference games intact through the next decade, the only non-conference team on the correct home/road rotation that allows seven home games per year is Washington.  With that in mind, I expect Michigan to drop Virginia Tech and replace them with a couple of pay for play games.

The UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma home-and-home series locations will also have to be swapped to ensure that Michigan has seven home games per season.  Of course, who knows?  By the time those games are played (starting in 2022 with UCLA), the Big Ten may have expanded or announced a planned expansion and the schedule will be scrambled all over again.



07/07/2016 - 12:59pm The reason why he's so "calm" . . .

The reason why Brian is so "calm" is that any criticism of this schedule also reflects on Harbaugh and that's something he doesn't want to do.  Let's face it--Harbaugh has indicated for months now that he wanted this game and we all know that his contract stipulates that he will be fully consulted on the non-conference schudule.

We also know that it's going to be really hard for Brian to blame his whipping boy Brandon for this one.  He might make some hay about how Michigan State and Ohio State are both on the same home/road schedule rotation without point fingers at the Big Ten Conference (vice Brandon).  But we all know that a large part of the decision to change the previous schedule and play Notre Dame lies with Jim Harbaugh.

So come on, Brian, and instead blaming the CEO of Toys R Us headquarters in New York, make sure you criticize the occupant of the head football coach's office at Schembechler Hall in Ann Arbor.  It might take a bit off Harbaugh's sheen, but it'd also be honest on your part to do so.

07/07/2016 - 12:49pm Why no criticism of Harbaugh?

Everyone in the comments sections so far has been criticizing Warde Manuel, but why is none directed at Jim Harbaugh?

Harbaugh's contract states that he has input into scheduling and it's been clear for some time now that he wanted to put Notre Dame back on the schedule as soon as possible.  Were his devout Catholic beliefs a motivator for doing it?  I think that's a question worth asking

Well, he (and Manuel) genuflected in the direction of South Bend and now U-M has a couple of schedules in 2018/9 that have gone from good enough to quality for the four-team playoff with the home-and-homes against Arkansas to open each season to one that's been made markedly more difficult (including a game against ND in the midst of the 2019 conference schedule).  

We also see a revisit of what happened in 2012/3 when Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State were all home or road games, expect the 2018/9 versions include ND, OSU and Michigan State.  OTOH, it also now means the 2018 and 2019 seasons with both have seven home games (instead of the current six and eight).

So what next regarding Notre Dame and the post-2019 non-conference schedules?  Do one or both of Washington and Virginia Tech get axed in 2020/1?  What about UCLA in 2022/3?  Michigan has two blue chip programs in Texas (2024/7) and Oklahoma (2025/6) on the schedule--do those games get set aside so that Harbaugh gets anotehr couple games with Notre Dame?


9/1 at Notre Dame 
9/8 TBA (Home Game) 
9/15 SMU 
9/22 Nebraska 
9/29 at Northwestern 
10/6 Maryland 
10/13 Wisconsin 
10/20 at Michigan State 
10/27 Open 
11/3 Penn State 
11/10 at Rutgers 
11/17 Indiana 
11/24 at Ohio State 


8/31 TBA (Home Game) or Open 
9/7 Army 
9/14 TBA (Home Game) or Open 
9/21 at Wisconsin 
9/28 Rutgers (moved from 10/26) 
10/5 Iowa 
10/12 at Illinois 
10/19 at Penn State 
10/26 Notre Dame 
11/2 at Maryland 
11/9 Open 
11/16 Michigan State 
11/23 at Indiana 
11/30 Ohio State 

06/30/2016 - 2:38pm Two questions . . . .

1.  Do you plan on havng Michigan play two non-coference football games against Power 5 opponents each year or not?   U-M currently has Washington and Virginia Tech on the 2020/1 schedules, so I'm wondering if this is going to be the norm going forward.

2.  When are you looking at playing Notre Dame?  Related to the question above, it would might be possible to do it as early as 2018/9 when U-M has home-and-home season openers with Arkansas.  If he's looking at playing only one Power Five Conference team or ND in the non-conference schedule each year, then which program or programs does he bump?  Washington or VIrginia Tech?  UCLA in 2022/3?  Oklahoma in 2025/6?  Texas in 2024/7?

06/30/2016 - 2:30pm Enjoy college football while you can . . .

There are a number of articles linking the expansion of the Zika virus to climate change.  This is the first time Michigan football meets up with a changing, i.e., warming Earth.

Enjoy college football while you can, everybody.  In ten or fifteen years from now, when there is a full fledged acknowledgement regarding the threats behind global warming and climate change, the idea of having a satellite camp in American Samoa is going to seem rather absurd.

It wouldn't surprise me that Michigan's final home-and-home series with a team well outside the state's boundaries will be the one with Texas in Austin to open the 2027 season.  After that, we can probably look forward to annual games with Notre Dame (less travel, smaller carbon footprint) and perhaps a half dozen more with teams that have short travelling distances either in the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue) or outside it (those teams in the MAC still playing football).   Conferences will be realigning to become smaller, there'll be fewer games, perhaps no or not many athletic scholarships and no bowl games (which puts the national championship back to a popular vote--wooh, wooh!!!).  

I suppose if he stick around long enough, Jim Harbaugh could be Michigan's last coach.  He'd be in his late 60s by the end of the next decade, so I guess it's possible he'll be the one that'll close the doors and turn out the lights for the final time prior to Schembechler Hall getting shut down and mothballed.  


06/23/2016 - 11:43pm When Michigan put Colorado on the schedule . . .

Colorado announced it was playing Michigan this upcoming season back in June 2012.  The game was set up at that time as one of four non-conference games that included a trip to South Bend against Notre Dame.  The UM-ND series ending was announced in September 2012.

The contest against Central Florida was announced in October 2013, so that came after the UM-ND series ended (and also after the Big Ten announced its nine-game conference schedule plan--see below).  In 2012, UCF went 10-4 and the 2013 team finished the regular season undefeated, but lost to Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.  I wouldn't say UCF was a name opponent, but it was a successful mid-tier program when the decision was made to add them to the schedule.

The season opener against Hawaii was announced on November 7, 2012 (along with the 2018/9 home-and-home season openers with Arkansas).  These games were also put in place after the UM-ND series announcement was made two months earlier.  

The games with Hawaii, UCF and Colorado were all in place prior to when the Big Ten announcing the conference was going to a nine-game schedule starting in 2016.   The conference put out a press release on July 11, 2013.  The schedules for 2016 and 2017 were also put out that date, but there's no mention about how long the conference office and the ADs were considering the move (which also included no FCS games).    Wisconsin would be Michigan's western division opponent from 2016 to 2019.  

I wouldn't necessarily point fingers at Brandon about the non-conference schedule because it was put together in a pretty dynamic situation, i.e., adoption of nine game schedule plus loss of ND series weren't really on the table when the Colorado game contract was signed.

06/14/2016 - 2:57pm The Big Ten still thinks Penn State > Michigan State . . .

When Nebraska joined the Big Ten and B1G leadership ranked the football teams to form two balanced divisions, the top four programs were Michigan & Nebraska in the Legends Division with Ohio State and Penn State in the Leaders Division.  Michigan State was down in the pecking order.

Fast forward to the now fourteen member Big Ten and it's obvious that Delany, et. al., still think Penn State > Michigan State despite the sanctions hitting the PSU program, the fact that MSU is probably the better program right now (and is celebrating its best string of football over the last half century).  

The B1G scheduling strategy for the Eastern Division is pretty obvious.  First off, make sure that two of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State play either at Rutgers or at Maryland.  Once that home/road rotation was settled, then it became a matter of ranking the remaining Eastern Division teams.  Outside UM, it evidentally went (1) Ohio State, (2) Penn State, (3) Michigan State, (4) Indiana.  The Big Ten's logic was to have (1) and (3) on one home/road schedule rotation and (2) and (4) in a second schedule rotation.  

It's also pretty apparent that when the Big Ten opted to have one team apiece based on their relative strengths from the Eastern and Western Divisions play each other over a four-year time period, then that team would be on the same schedule roation as (2) and (4).  For Michigan from 2016, that means Michigan State and Indiana are on the same schedule rotation as Wisconsin form the Western Division.

Unless MgoBlog has some sort of inside knowledge about what happened with the schedule, then perhaps the finger is best pointed at Jim Delany and his crew in Chicago IRT the Michigan State/Ohio State "debacle" (which based on the one time he's talked about it, doesn't seem to bother Warde Manual).  

If Notre Dame does show up on the schedule in 2018/9 and if the season openers with Arkansas remain in place (with no flip flopping), then be prepared to see that first game be played in South Bend in order to keep Michigan's schedules balanced and to ensure there are at least six home games in 2019.  Among what I think most fans would consider the major football games for those two seasons, here's the home/road rotation.

2018 (Home):  Arkansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State

2018 ( Away):  at Notre Dame, at Michigan State, at Ohio State

2019 (Home):  Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State

2019 (Away):  at Arkansas, at Wisconsin, at Penn State

If this is what shakes out, will MgoBlog be prepared to call this "Warde Manual's Debacle"?  What sort of hue and cry will be made if Michigan plays ND, MSU and OSU all on the road or at home for those two seasons?  


06/11/2016 - 12:59am If this does happen . . .

The articles in the Detroit newspapers seem to indicate that the two schools are looking at reviving the series as early as the 2018/9 seasons and the idea would be for the two teams to play one another twice home-and-home over a four year period or perhaps at a neutral site, i.e.,  make it a Shamrock Series game.

Assuming all this is true with the caveats that Arkansas doesn't flip and the ND game would fill in U-M's current open dates, here are the 2018 and 2019 schedules:

2018 (7 Home/5 Road, 5 Home/4 Road Conference Games)

9/1 - Arkansas

9/8 - at Notre Dame

9/15 - Southern Methodist

9/22 - Nebraska

9/29 - at Northwestern

10/6 - Maryland

10/13 - Wisconsin

10/20 - at Michigan State

10/27 - Open

11/3 - Penn State

11/10 - at Rutgers

11/17 - Indiana

11/23 - at Ohio State


2019 (6 Home/6 Road, 4 Home/5 Road Conference Games)

8/31 - at Arkansas

9/7 - Army

9/14 - Notre Dame

9/21 - at Wisconsin

9/28 - Open

10/5 - Iowa

10/12 - at Illinois

10/19 - at Penn State

10/26 - Rutgers

11/2 - at Maryland

11/9 - Open

11/16 - Michigan State

11/23 - at Indiana

11/30 - Ohio State

A couple of things stand out.  The first is that the 2019 season would only include six home games, which probably hasn't happened at Michigan in a long time.  The strength of schedule in each year should be pretty high and shouldn't pose a problem when it comes to a four-game playoff.  I just have to wonder if it's a "smart schedule" in terms of getting to that objective, i.e. playing for a national championship.

As I wrote before, I think it's unlikely that Arkansas will "flip" because it would upset their home/away game schedule balance.  Unless ND would be willing to play back-to-back games in Ann Arbor those two seasons, we're stuck with playing them in South Bend in 2018 because not doing so means a five home game season in 2019.  Maybe U-M can negotiate a 2 for 1 deal with ND to make up for the uneven number of games played since 1978, but I doubt that would happen (just like I doubt the Irish would be willing to play at Michigan Stadium two years in a row).

If we were to see a two year hiatus after 2019, that means the Virginia Tech and Washington games would remain in place for 2020/1.  Then we could see Michigan playing both UCLA and Notre Dame in the 2022/3 seasons.  If the Big Ten keeps the same schedule rotation, then it means seven home games in 2022 and six in 2023.

The same would go for 2026 when Michigan plays Oklahoma in Ann Arbor and then goes to Austin in 2027 to play Texas on the road.  Would playing OU and UT plus ND those two years be too ambitious?  I think it's too difficult to even project these games happening because more conference realignment would almost certainly have taken place by then.  Who knows?  Two or even three of those teams--Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma--could have moved to the Big Ten by then and we'd be looking at a 16- or 18-team conference and a whole new scheduling dynamic.  There might even be an eight-team playoff or some other post-season configuration taking shape as well.

There's lots of moving parts here and the two schools have to think hard about what sort of scheduling agreement or contract to put in place that will serve their interests in the present and the future.  Brandon gets criticized for having a three-year rolling contract with Notre Dame, but would anyone do things differently given the dynamic environment that college football will be facing over the next decade?

06/10/2016 - 1:47pm About flipping Arkansas . . .

I suspect the reason why Arkansas is opening the 2018 season in Ann Arbor is because their home conference games include Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss (along with Vanderbilt).  Their road SEC games are Texas A&M, Auburn, Mississippi State and MIssouri.  The Razorbacks probably will want to keep their schedule "balanced", so the prospect of them changing the home/away dates aren't likely.

As Brian points out, with the nine-game B1G schedule starting this season, Michigan is going to have alternating years of five and four home conference games.  In 2018, U-M has Nebraska, Maryland, Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana at home.  The road games are at at Northwestern, at Michigan State, at Rutgers and at Ohio State.  If ND plays in Ann Arbor that year (and Arkansas doesn't flip), then that means eight home games in 2018 and six in 2019.

If U-M plays ND in South Bend that year, it means seven home games in 2018 and 2019, but it puts Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State all one the same home/road schedule rotation and we'd be back to what happened in 2011/2 when it was ND, OSU and Nebraska all on the same home/road schedule rotation.

I think the better way to make this work is to try and fit in Notre Dame during the 2020/1 seasons.  It'd mean dropping Virginia Tech and/or Washington and perhaps getting some cooperation from the Big Ten on the conference schedule in order to better balance it out (since the B1G hasn't published schedules beyond 2019, I assume this is workable).

Then I'd like to see Michigan keep the home-and-home series with UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas with Notre Dame perhaps popping up on the schedule again for the 2028/9 seasons.

All that said, I'm not a big fan of playing ND every year now that there are only three non-conference games.  There are other teams out there with major name reconition that Michigan has never played (LSU) or rarely played (such as Florida State or Georgia) during the regular season.  I'd love to see U-M play a variety of major non-conference opponents in home-and-home series (keep the neutral sites to an absolute minimum) with Notre Dame being part of that mix.


06/10/2016 - 12:08pm I agree with this sentiment . . .

Starting this season, the Big Ten will go to a nine-game conference schedule that will also include four year periods where the teams between the two divisions based on their relative strengths will match up with one another annually.   For Michigan in the 2016 to 2019 timeframe, that program will be Wisconsin.

That means we're looking at three non-conference games and for a number of reasons (assuring at least seven home games per season, realistic path to four-team national championship), it likely means one home-and-home series with a Power 5 program plus two pay for play games (and yes, 2020/1 is an obvious exception with the Washington and Virginia Tech games on the schedule).

So unless U-M is willing to replace any of the non-conference teams on the current schedules, I'm hard pressed to see ND on the schedule sooner rather than later.  If I were to guess, I'd say that the UDub/VaTech games might be replaced with Notre Dame in 2020/1 plus a good Group of Five program and U-M would keep all the others currently on the schedule through 2027, i.e., Florida at neutral site in 2017 plus home-and-homes with Arkansas, UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas.  Then maybe Notre Dame gets back on the schedule for the 2028/9 seasons once all those other non-conference games are over.

I think that'd be an ideal situation--a home-and-home with Notre Dame every eight years with three home-and-home series against other major programs in between, such as Florida State or Georgia or LSU (which Michigan has never played) or USC.  I hope that's the sort of set up that Warde Manual is looking at (along with Jim Harbaugh).

I've written this before, but keep in mind that B1G schedules are set through the end of the decade and that anyone hoping for a change before then regarding Michigan State and Ohio State are likely to be disappointed.  

Also, going back to when Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the conference officials have always seen PSU > MSU when it comes to the scheduling pecking order.  When Maryland and Rutgers joined the B1G East and the conference wanted to make sure that two of U-M, MSU, OSU and PSU would play at either RU or MD each year.  Given that, the conference rated the remaining teams in the East as follows:  (1) Ohio State, (2) Penn State, (3) Michigan State, (4) Indiana.  That's why you see OSU/MSU on one home/away scheduling rotation and PSU/IN on another one.

If you expand those scheduling rotations to include MD, RU, and WI (from 2016 to 2019), then it looks like this:

2016 (H) - Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin

2016 (A) - at Ohio State, at Michigan State, at Rutgers 

2017 (H) - Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers

2017 (A) - at Penn State, at Indiana, at Maryland, at Wisconsin

2018 repeates the 2016 rotation and 2019 repeats 2017.  

If this rotation continues into the 2020/1 seasons and Notre Dame were to show up on the schedule those years (and let's assume Nebraska was to replace Wisconsin as U-M's annual Western Division opponent for the 2000-3 time frame), then:

2020 (H) - Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska

2020 (A) - at Ohio State, at Michigan State, at Rutgers

2021 (H) - Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers

2021 (A) - at Penn State, at Indiana, at Maryland, at Nebraska

If U-M continues to have five home conference games in the even numbered years, then what do you do with Notre Dame?  If you play them in South Bend in 2020, then that means seven home games and five on the road, but three of those away games would be at ND, at MSU and at OSU.  If you play them in Ann Arbor in 2020, then it means alternating seasons of six and home home games per year, which is doable, but perhaps not ideal either.

05/26/2016 - 6:10pm A couple of things to consider . . .

The first major point people have to consider is whether or not it makes sense from a playoff or a revenue perspective to have two home-and-home non-conference games with Notre Dame and some other major opponent.  In some of the scenarios suggested by posters above, Michigan would only have five home games instead of seven or even six. 

If you think it makes sense to have only one home-and-home series among the non-conference games in order to ensure an average of seven per year at Michigan Stadium, then the only way to get ND onto the schedule is to bump someone off of it.  If you're looking at the 2020/1 seasons, then it means removing Virginia Tech and Washington and replacing them with Notre Dame.  Beyond those years, it means getting rid of UCLA or Texas or Oklahoma (the latter two teams Michigan has played only once in bowl games).

Keep in mind that Notre Dame has scheduled (to much fanfair on their part) Ohio State for two games in 2022 and 2023, so you can probably forget those two seasons.  Maybe, just maybe, you could get them in the 2020/1 seasons, but ND opens the latter season with Florida State, so I can't imagine they'd be too likely to add Michigan to their schedule.

I do understand why Michigan might want to play Notre Dame (and vice versa).  It's one of the easiest games to promote, the crowds and ratings are top notch and you can put it in prime time with no problem (although the current U-M AD might have to be convinced otherwise).  That said, you could also probably do the same thing when Michigan plays Texas or Oklahoma or even UCLA as well.  

So here's my recommendation.  If you can't reschedule or move Washington and Virginia Tech off the 2020/1 schedules and replace them with Notre Dame plus a pay for play game, then schedule the two teams to play in 2028/9 after the home-and-home with Texas is completed.  But heck, by that time, ND may be in the Big Ten and this whole discussion may be moot.


05/26/2016 - 5:58pm So you'd like to see . . . .

So you'd like to see Michigan play UCLA and Notre Dame both in Ann Arbor in 2022 and then both those teams on the road in 2023.

In 2026, this would also mean playing both Oklahoma and Notre Dame in Ann Arbor in 2026 and then having ND and Texas on the road in 2027.

Is this the kind of non-conference schedule you'd like to see Michigan play?  Would you be confortable playing only five games at Michigan Stadium in the odd numbered years per your plan?



05/26/2016 - 5:54pm So you want to start 2018 . . .

So you want to start 2018 with games against Arkansas, SMU, Notre Dame and Nebraska.  Why would any sane athletic director or football coach want to start their season with a four game slate like that?  Unless you're BYU and have no real scheduling flexibillity, what you're suggesting makes no sense if your program is in a Power 5 Conference and has aspirations to winning tis conference and getting into the four-team playoff.

Besides that, consider what 2019 would look like.  You'd have U-M playing on the road at Arkansas, at Notre Dame and at Wisconsin in the first four weeks with one home game TBD.  Same thing as I wrote above--what sane coach/AD in a Power 5 Conference would sign up for that kind of schedule?  Beyond that, if U-M were to do as you suggested, the Wolverines would only have five home games in 2019.  

05/26/2016 - 5:45pm So you don't consider playing Penn State an interesting game?

Judging by your statement, I think you're saying that Penn State (Michigan's Big Ten Conference opener) does not provide an interesting game.  How do you judge whether or not a game is interesting?  Is it the team's won-lost record the previous year?  Is it how that team is projected to do this season?  Is it based on their blue blood status or lack therein?  

The reason I ask is because the Big Ten obviously thinks it's a big game based on the way they set up Michigan's future schedules.  After making sure U-M played Rutgers and Maryland one at home and one on the road each year, it appears they rated the remaining Big Ten East teams as follows--(1) Ohio State, (2) Penn State, (3) Michigan State and (4) Indiana.  That's why Michigan now plays OSU and MSU both at home or on the road each season going forward and it's also why those two teams (along with Rutgers) play Michigan in Ann Arbor when the Wolverines only play four conference games.

The Big Ten also opted to have the teams from each division play its contemporary over a four year period starting in 2016.  For Michigan, that team will be Wisconsin.  That means the home/road scheduling rotations are as follow through 2019:

Rotation 1 - Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers

Rotation 2 - Penn State, Maryland, Indiana, Wisconsin

05/23/2016 - 11:01am It makes perfect sense to do so . . .

Going to a nine-game conference schedule makes perfect sense to do so now that the Big Ten has fourteen members.

First off, as one poster noted above, Michigan played three non-conference opponents starting in 1965, which is when college football and the Big Ten went from nine to ten regular season games (for the record, the three OOC games were at North Carolina, Georgia and California and the team went 2-1 in those contests, 4-6 overall).   That lasted until the 1995 season when the NCAA allowed teams to go from eleven to twelve regular games (the Big Ten did have a round robin schedule from 1981 to 1985 and U-M played just two non-conference games those seasons).  From 1996 onward, the Wolverines had four non-conference games.

Secondly, having nine conference games allows teams to schedule a majority of their games at their home stadiums every season while still keeping at least one home-and-home series.  Because the Big Ten has stopped the practice of scheduling FCS teams in the future (Iowa has two grandfathered in, but no more after that), then it's more likely than not that one of those games will be part of a home-and-home series while the other two will be pay for play scenarios.

The nine conference game setup also accomodates a couple of the conference's objectives.  The primary one is that it presents a better inventory for the networks to bid on when it comes to third tier rights.  Also, by matching up teams between the two divisions based on their relative rankings over a four year time span (which is why Michigan plays Wisconsin each season from 2016 to 2019),  it means better matchups and schedules where top teams from each division play its counterpart at least once (something that Iowa missed on last season).

It's pretty obvious that the Big Ten East schedule is set up to ensure that two of Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State are either at Rutgers or at Maryland each season.   It also appears that the conference still felt that Penn State > Michigan State in the relative pecking order (which was something apparent when the Legends and Leaders Conferences existed).  From that perspective, havng Ohio State and Michigan State on one schedule home/away schedule cycle with Penn State and Indiana on the other makes sense.

In fact, when you do look at the scheduling cycles for Michigan over the next four years, we see Ohio State-Michigan State-Rutgers in one home/road rotation and Penn State-Wisconsin-Maryland-Indiana on another.  That's as "balanced" a home/road rotation you're going to get with a 14-team conference that's in two divisions.

That scheduling cycle also allows Michigan to rotate through the other six teams in the Big Ten East over a three-year time period.  In 2016, it's Illinois and at Iowa.  In 2017, it's Minnesota and at Purdue.  In 2018, it's Nebraska and at Northwestern.  Not surprisingly, 2019 is Iowa and at Illinois.  To it's credit, the Big Ten is also trending towards putting all the inter-divisional games early in the conference schedule so that the intra-divisional games are largely played in October and November.

As far as playing Notre Dame is concerned, the only way to realistically get them on any future schedule is to either have U-M play two Power Five teams the years ND is on it (such as in 2020/1 when Washington and Virginia Tech are both on the schedule) or to take a program off that's currently on the future schedules.  Other teams that U-M is playing home-and-home series are Arkansas (2018/9), UCLA (2022/3), Texas (2024/7) and Oklahoma (2025/6).  U-M has only played UT and OU once and that was in bowl games.  I frankly don't want to get rid of them in order to accomodate a game with Notre Dame (the same goes with ND replacing UCLA as well).

05/11/2016 - 4:36pm Michigan staff attending camp at Hun School of Princeton June 7

See the story here -…

Harbaugh is going to be in Alabama that day, so he won't be in attendance.  The article doesn't say how many or which U-M coaches will be at the event.

I assume Harbaugh will be making both of the Alabama camps on June 6 and 7.  Pearl H.S. in northern Mississippi is on the morning of June 8 and the camp at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey starts in the very late afternoon.  The high school commencent address at Paramus is on June 9 (the same date when there are two camps in Ohio scheduled along with the first day of Sound Mind, Sound Body).



04/19/2016 - 10:15pm The best teams in CFB have talent, depth, experience . . . .

The best teams in college football have talent, depth, experience and on the field talent.  Michigan is going to have some holes on both sides of the field coming into the 2017 season.

On the offense, it'll be the line (which is kind of thin this season).  U-M loses three starters (Kalis, Magnuson and Branden) at the end of 2016.  Cole, Newsome and Kugler will be the only players with any real starts (and we don't know how Kugler is going to be integrated into the line this upcoming season).  Ideally, Dawson and Bushell-Beatty would also be in the starting ranks, but there's been no evidence of that to date.  I don't think anyone will be surprised to see Michigan with two redshirt freshmen on the offensive line (or perhaps true sophomores) when the Wolverines open the 2017 season in Dallas against Florida.

The other question will be on the WR, i.e., who replaces Darboh and Chesson's production?  Grant Perry is probably part of the equation, but the rest is a question mark at this point.  Again, I don't think we'll be too surprised to see players from the current incoming class (and early enrollees) being depended upon heavily in 2017 (fingers crossed on Harris and Ways for 2016).

Hurst and Mone are going to be the two upperclassmen on the 2017 line and we all expect Gary to be a major contributor in 2016.  But like the offensive line, we're looking at possible shortfalls in experienced depth.  Marshall has to step it up and Winovich needs to turn into a pleasant surprise.

McCray should be back for 2017 and there are lots of players who have been recruited for the other LB positions.  I think it's fair to assume this will be Pepper's last year, so there will be a need for a SLB down the line.  Furbush is his backup, but his talent and skill sets are very different than Peppers.

The secondary is going to be very hard hit--no doubt about that.  David Long and Lavert Hill are going to have to grow up fast at the CB position because they're the likely starters for the 2017 season.

Michigan will begin flipping the switch after the 2016 season.  Most of the team's personnel will be Harbaugh recruits with a handful left from Hoke's tenure.  This team will also be young, so there will be questions about the starters for 2017, lack of experience for some players and which players will provide the onfield leadership.  There are position groups where U-M will actually be in good shape, such as QB, FB, TE and RB.  But we can expect some uncertainty at a whole host of other places when that opening season game with the Gators takes place at Jerryworld in September 2017.






04/02/2016 - 12:57am 2017 & 2018 could be real transition years . . . .

Michigan loses three starting offensive linemen (Magnuson, Kalis, Braden) out of the six currently on the roster who could likely be considered sure starters (the other three are Cole, Newsome and Kugler).  Dawson and Bushell-Beatty have to be considered question marks at this point IRT the 2017 season, so we may see a couple of redshirt freshmen in the o-line when U-M opens the season in Dallas against Florida.

The defensive line is in an even worse situation with three starters (Wormley, Charlton, Glasgow) and one key back up (Godin) leaving at the end of 2016.  Hurst. Mone, Marshall and Winovich (converted from LB/FB) are going to be the upperclassmen in 2017.  Gary is going to be a key to the d-line and we'll see how Kemp, the two Johnsons and Jones pan out at the DE positions.  It would have been nice to get an additional interior d-lineman in the last class other than Dwumfour and I expect U-M is going to look at getting at least three in this recruiting class.

The secondary is going to take a big hit as well after this season.  I think it's a pretty good assumption that Peppers leaves for the NFL.  Add in Lewis, Stribling and Clark from the CB ranks plus Thomas and Hill as starting safeties and you're staring at a real shortage of experience in the secondary in 2017.  Kinnel and Watson will both be back, but guys who have barely been on campus (or are not in Ann Arbor yet) are going to be expected to contribute in 2017.

You also have to ask yourself what the WR position will look like when Darboh and Chesson are gone.  Perry looks like he's legit, but we're still waiting on Harris.  A lot seems to be riding on Mitchell developing quickly, so that's a wait and see situation.

I'm sure Harbaugh is going to do great as a recruiter, but it's pretty obvious 2017 and perhaps 2018 could be real transition years personnel wise.  Top flight teams have depth, talent, experience and on the field leadership.  Michigan is going to have great depth at some positions (tight end is insane) in 2017, but less so at others after the 2016 season.  The overall talent is going to go up given Harbaugh's recruiting, but the experience is going down.  The "bridge season" between Hoke and Harbaugh should be 2017.    


03/26/2016 - 10:49am There's a strong gravitational pull . . .

Whatever the rumors or sources may be, I think it's fair to acknowledge that there's a strong gravitational pull towards the Big Ten and the SEC these days.  Both conferences have strong governance/membership, established and well-distributed conference networks and the greatest per school revenue potential.  They both also have 14 teams, so there's "room" for two more teams and the establishment of two 8-team divisions for football as well.

In contrast, you have a Big XII Conference which has had major upheavels memberhip and leadership these last few years, little or no prospect of a conference-wide television network and no really good prospects to expand itself into other geographic areas with name programs that will increase the earnings each school gets from television and other sources.  It's clear that there are restive members in the conference--just look at Oklahoma President David Boren's comments or Oklahoma State Head Football Coach Mike Gundy's discussion about how Texas's Longhorn Network has (1) been a failure and (2) needs to be dismantled for the Big XII to go forward.

The ACC is in somewhat better shape, but at this stage, it appears they'll be on outside looking in when it comes to establishing their own conference wide network and enjoying the same revenue streams that the Big Ten and SEC are looking at now and in the immediate future.  It also has 14 full time members with Notre Dame being a de facto 15th with most of its sports in the ACC and with the agreement to play 5 ACC teams per year in football into the next decade. 

The Pac 12 is also having problems with its television network in terms of distribution, revenue streams, etc.  While it might be the best overall sports conference, that hasn't translated into the money needed for some of their schools to really operate on a high level.  California, for example, had big budget issues.  Of course, we all know how close the  P10 came to becoming the P16 just a few years ago with the addition of Big XII schools from Texas and Oklahoma.  Could something like that happen again?

The one major brake on all this has been the Grant of Rights agreements that all the conferences except the SEC have in place with its membership.  Could those agreements be overturned in some way?  If the Big XII evaporates, would their GOR still be in place?

As far as the Big Ten is concerned, it's obvious that the additions of Maryland and Rutgers were based less on athletics (although I'd say MD is a mid-range B10 program athletically), but academics, geography and television rights.  So perhaps the better question is what two programs make the most sense to the conference's leadership (and fits the B1G's corporate culture) and is doable/realistic? 

Would it be something like Oklahoma/Kansas?  Admittedly, OU is a non-AAU school (as is Notre Dame), but as a football/men's basketball centric decision, it would make sense.  Admittedly, you wouldn't be looking at adding many households in terms of television, but a B1G West Football Division that has those two teams plus Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois would be attractive.  Play seven games within the division and two outside means each team in the conference plays one another at least once in football over a four year time frame.

I suppose the other possibility would be in the ACC's geographic footprint.  When Bluevod mentions the DC and Atlanta markets, then he's clearly indicating schools like Virginia and Georgia Tech.  Again, admittedly, not usually high profile athletically, but major academic assets for the conference and in areas with higher household numbers.  Add those two schools would mean putting Indiana in the Big Ten West for football and shitt the overall Big Ten Conference farther east.  UM would be playing Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia and Georgia Tech in the Big Ten East's football division each year.

03/24/2016 - 7:24pm The proposals that the SEC and ACC put forward in January . . .

The article notes that the proposals put forth by the ACC and SEC to ban these camps and to forbid guest coaches at another school's camp are up for vote next month.  If they do pass, what is Michigan and Harbaugh's next move? 

The proposals may be post-dated, so that this year's Summer Swarm would still be within the rules, but any future attempts to do it next season would a violation of the NCAA regulations.  If the rules are passed and put into place immediately, then what happens?

Does Harbaugh go through the with the camps and basically defy the NCAA?  Or does he back down and live within the scope of the regulations?

It will be interesting to see how the other conferences and schools vote on the matter.  They could say no to the proposals and Harbaugh can continue as before.  But if they say yes, than what does Michigan and JH do?

WIll there be a p.r. pushback against the NCAA, etc.?  I imagine yes, but I don't think they reall care, especially the ACC and SEC schools.  As long as their recruting backyards are protected, I imagine they'd be willing to roll with the fallout.

It would be very ballsy if Harbaugh opted to defy the new regulations and go forward with the Summer Swarm tour either this year or next.  I don't think the NCAA would be very happy with such open defiance to their governing bodies, so this could turn out to be one hell of a showdown.

03/24/2016 - 4:12pm You do realize that the AD only schedules three of the games . .

Since the AD only schedules three non-conference games a year, I think you need to share the blame around a little bit.

I hope you realize that the original slate of non-conference games for 2016 was put together when U-M thought it would have a fourth game at Notre Dame (and not a ninth conference game).  It was also done at a time when the Big Ten and Pac 10 were talking about having a scheduling agreement, which accounts for Colorado.  When Michigan added UCF in October 2013, that program had gone 10-4 in 2012 and would end up the 2013 season 12-1.  Who could have predicted they would go 0-12 last year when the contract was signed?  Do you want a good warmup game to open the season with a team not from the MAC?  Hawaii certainly fits the bill there.

Stuff like this happens in scheduling because much of it is done years in advance.  Rutgers and Maryland were announced in November 2012 as additions to the conference, and the niine conference game decision was announced in July 2013.  Given the relatively short time frame, it made sense to just stick with what they had (now minus ND) and go from there.

03/23/2016 - 5:10pm Time will tell . . .

Has Rutgers had problems on and off the field?  Absolutely.  Have RU's football and men's basketball teams been bad these last two years?  On the whole, yes.  Does Rutgers have a big financial hole in their athletic department they need to shore up?  Yes.  Is Rutgers the most embarassing program in the Big Ten?  No, that honor is reserved for the conference's 11th member, Penn State.  Are we in what is essentially Year 3 of the latest expansion decision?  Yes.  Is that too short a time frame to judge whether or not it was a good decision to have them join the Big Ten in terms of athletics (and not academics or CIC-related matters) alone?  Yes.  

Time will tell whether or not adding Rutgers along with Maryland were positives or negatives to the conference and to Michigan as a whole.  As you point out, we're still waiting to see what sort of deal the Big Ten (and Jim Delany) will work out with the networks.  I fully expect we'll continue to see a multi-network deal with ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS handling a mix of football and basketball games.  If the initial projections are correct, then wer're looking at B1G schools getting someting in the low $40M mark in conference distributions.  But if cord cutting and cost reductions at the networks become more important than what they're willing to pay for content, then it might go another way (including paying to watch games streamed online).

While there's a tendency to demonize Delany on this board, the decisions to add Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska and Penn State were all made in accordance with the wishes of the conference's university presidents.  While I"m sure they rely upon his advice and direction, they're the ones who also vote yes or no on the matter.  

On a final note, let me say that I have had the Big Ten Network at my home when I lived in Phoenix, AZ and now in suburban Washington, DC.  Not only am I glad that Delany had the vision to set up the Big Ten Network (and compared to the Pac 12 and Longhorn Networks, it's a huge success), but to add teams on the east coast so U-M alums like myself don't get to see a whole host of Michigan teams (not just football or men's basketball) in person.

03/23/2016 - 4:48pm I don't think the Notre Dame football scheduling situation . . .

I don't think the Notre Dame football scheduling situation is as great as you seem to indicate.  First off, I think it's fair to say that ND is a semi-independent or quasi-independent when it comes to football.  As you point out, they're committed to play five ACC teams per year, have longstanding rivalries they honor with Navy and USC, and have a commitment to play one game on the West Coast each year,  which means they also play Stanford for now.  Those eight games are a de facto conference schedule.

Secondly, because Notre Dame doesn't have a conference championship game, it's in the same pickle as the Big XII schools and Brigham Young.  When it comes to figuring out which teams are going into the four-game playoff, ND doesn't have that last data point to make its case.  If  the Irish go undefeated, then they should be in the playoff and I don't think anyone would complain.  But as 2015 demonstrated, one loss teams without the benefit of a playoff (TCU and Baylor), can find themselves on the outside looking in.

The final thing to look at is the "other" teams on Notre Dame's 2015 schedule.  Yes, they did play Texas last season (in a year where UT was pretty bad), but there other two games outside their de facto conference schedule were Massachusetts and a surprisingly good Temple squad.  Some of their ACC opponents weren't that great either--Virginia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College weren't exactly Murderer's Row by season's end (Pittsburgh was okay).

So how does 2016 stack up?  There are some big names on their schedule---Texas (again), Michigan State, Miami (which is not what it used to be), Virginia Tech, USC (which also isn't what it used to be) and Stanford.  But then you add Nevada, Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina State, Navy and Army.  It's about a half-and-half proposition for them.

Other future ND opponents include Miami (Ohio) in 2017, Ball State in 2018 and New Mexico in 2019.  I can't imagine NBC is too cracked about those games.  And FWIW, U-M doesn't even play MAC opponents anymore (Ball State is on a future schedule, but without Hoke around, I have to imagine that game may be on the blocks).




03/23/2016 - 4:26pm What's ironic about Berenson's comments . . .

What's ironic about Berenson's comments is that the old CCHA used to include Alaska-Fairbanks, which isn't exactly located in the Big Ten's georgraphic footprint and is also much farther away from Ann Arbor than Piscatawy, New Jersey (2,895 miles by air compared to 503 miles).

It's also ironic that Brian is taking a shot at Jim Delany (and by extension, all the Big Ten presidents) for admitting Rutgers into the Big Ten.  We all realize one of the primary reasons was to enhance the distribution of Delany's creation, i.e., the Big Ten Network.  That's the same network which those of us out of state and in Michigan get to watch more of UM's hockey games (and football games and basketball games, etc).  It's also one of the vehicles which funds the athletic department--and whose contribution should increase with the new media contract that's being negotiated.  

I do applaud the move to add Notre Dame to the conference, and if a program like North Dakota or Miami (Ohio) were to become the eighth member of the Big Ten Hockey family, then all the better.  That said, anyone who thinks ND will add more of its teams to the B1G in lieu ot the ACC at this point is getting way ahead of themselves.  Unless there's some major conference realignment taking place, it's not on the near horizon.

As far as Michigan and Notre Dame playing football again, I wouldn't like to see it on an annual basis.  With the conference schedule expanding to nine games, there's really only room for one major non-conference home-and-home opponent.  After attending the Rose Bowl game from about a dozen years ago against the Texas Longhorns, I came away with the thought that U-M should rotate its major non-conference opponents (like Ohio State was doing) rather than play Notre Dame every year.   I was honestly glad that ND broke the scheduling agreement a few years ago.

I generally approve of the opponents David Brandon set up to take ND's spot--Texas (2024/7), Oklahoma (2025/6), UCLA (2022/3), Arkansas (2018/9), Florida (2017), and Washington/Virginia Tech (2020/1).  Having UM play ND twice every six to eight years is fine, but Warde Manuel should get schools like Georgia or Louisiana State or Florida State into the mix as well.  Under Coach Harbaugh, Michigan is recruiting nationally and really hitting the more fertile regions in the country--so why not play the name teams located there as well?

02/29/2016 - 3:52pm I disagree on a couple of your points . . .

When it comes to Eastern Division games, Michigan swaps out Michgan State for Purdue in terms of the overall competition from within the division.  I'd say adding a team on par with the other lesser three already in it (Maryland, Rutgers, Indiana) helps U-M chances in winning the East (especially if Penn State is floundering around for awhile).

Does State's path get that much easier?  Yes, they don't play Ohio State each year, but right now Penn State isn't holding up their end of the bargain right now.  Swap those two our for Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa and I'd say it's still a basic wash for Michigan State.

There's also no guarantee that Michigan would have to beat MSU twice any given season to win the Big Ten championship, so you're arguing the exception and not the rule.  Let's say that Michigan played Nebraska during some future season and then met them again in the Big Ten Championship game.  What's the difference there?  You can also think about it this way--it could give Michigan a chance to beat MSU not once, but twice in any single year when the stakes are the highest, i.e.., the B1G title game and a spot in the four-team national championship.

02/29/2016 - 3:38pm The change would be fine with a couple of caveats . . .

I think a division change with Michigan State and Purdue swapping and having an annual cross division game with MSU would be fine--but with a couple of caveats.

From 2016 to 2019, the Big Ten is pairing up teams on the schedule in the two divisions to playone one another each year based on their relative strengths.  For Michigan, that team will be Wisconsin.

So let's say that MSU/Purdue swap out for the 2020 season.  Okay, then let's waive the "pairing" between East and West teams for Michigan (and Michigan State) and build the schedule from there.  You could have a rotation that had MSU every year with two other teams from the West, i.e., Nebraska/Illinois, Wisconsin/Minnesota and Iowa/Northwestern. 

For those of you who have been outraged that Michigan State hosted two home games in a row in East Lansing, a second caveat could be that MSU would have to play in Ann Arbor in back-to-back seasons as part of the "scheduling adustment".

Michigan already plays Ohio State and Michigan State anyway, so there's little change there.  Also, if you think about it,U-M is swapping Purdue for MSU when it comes to winning the Big Ten East.  Heck, depending on how long it takes Penn State to get back to its traditional form, the B1G East could proably be called the Big Two (U-M, OSU), Medium One (PSU), Little Four Division (Purdue, Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland).

If I were designing this, then Ohio State-Indiana-Rutgers would be on one schedule rotation and Michgian State-Penn State-Purdue-Maryland would be in the other.  Since U-M hosts MSU in 2019, they should do it again in 2020.  Here's what the conference schedules would look like in 2020 to 2022 (current non-conference games on schedule in brackens):

2020 Home (7):  Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Maryland, Illinois, (Ball State, Virginia Tech) 

2020 Road (5):  @ Ohio State, @ Indiana, @ Rutgers, @ Nebraska, @ Washington


2021 Home (6):  Ohio State, Indiana, Rutgers, Wisconsin, (Washington, TBD)

2021 Road (6):  @ Michigan State, @ Penn State, @ Purdue, @ Maryland, @Minnesota (@ Virginia Tech)


2022 Home (7 or 8):  Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, (UCLA, TBD X 2?)

2022 Road (4 or 5):  @ Ohio State, @ Indiana, @ Rutgers, @ Iowa, (@ TBD?)




02/26/2016 - 4:31pm If the SEC commissioner has his way . . .

If the SEC commissioner has his way (and is consistent in his concerns about student athletes truly having spring break off from competitive sports), then the softball team's trip to California this upcoming week won't happen in the future.

In fact, the women's softball is one of twenty Michigan teams (that includes football) who will be competing starting tomorrow (when spring break officially starts) through Monday, March 7.  Among the 20 teams is the football team and its trip to Bradenton, FL.

Some of the U-M teams are in Big Ten competitions.  Others are travelling to Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arizona and California for tournaments, practices and games against individual teams.

Is this really what Greg Sankey wants?  I rather doubt it since it's pretty clear that SEC teams in a whole host of sports are going to be competing during their respective spring breaks (not to mention Vanderbilt baseball's trip to the DC area last fall during their time off).  All of which goes to illustrate not only the hypocrisy of his stance on this matter, but also shows that his focus is really just on football and maintaining whatever competitive advantage he feels he can get for his conference.

02/05/2016 - 2:02pm I don't get Hackett's comments about the schedules . . .

I don't understand Hackett's comments about the schedules making sense years ago, but not in the present day.  Perhaps that statement goes to the fact U-M played at MSU two years in a row.

In his own way, he does acknowledge the Big Ten's thinking on Michigan's schedule rotation within the Eastern Division.  The B1G clearly wanted to have U-M, MSU and PSU (along with Indiana) playing either at Rutgers or at Maryland every year.  Once you acknowledge that, then you rank the remaining four Eastern Division teams Michigan plays and combine #1 and #3 in one schedule rotation and #2 and #4 in the second rotation.

Ever since the Leaders and Legends Divisions were created, the Big Ten has indicated that PSU > MSU.  It appears that hasn't changed, so that now we have 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Michigan State and 4) Indiana.  I have to imagine that's how OSU and MSU ended up on the same schedule rotation.

So for the next four years (2016-9), the teams on the schedule rotations will be Ohio State-Michigan State-Rutgers and Wisconsin-Penn State-Indiana-Maryland on the other.  The B1G opted to match up the teams in the East and the West based on their relative strengths--that's why UM has the Badgers through this next four seasons.

Things may change, but the conference's published schedules are out through 2019.  That means having an opener against a Big Ten team may not come any earlier than 2020.  That said, U-M's currently schedule opening game for that season is at Washington (followed by home games with Ball State and Virginia Tech).    The opening day slot for the 2021 season is open, with the two non-conference games the following two Saturdays being at Virginia Tech and Washington.

I do think he and Harbaugh may rethink having both Washington and Virginia Tech on the 2020/1 schedules.  I wouldn't be surprised if one of those teams falls off (or perhaps both if an agreement can be made with Notre Dame).

I wouldn't touch the home-and-home contests with UCLA, Texas or Oklahoma.  It looks like the 2023 opener is schedule at UCLA and the two games with the Longhorns are also going to open the 2024 and 2027 seasons--that is, if Hackett/Manual/Harbaugh opt to keep it that way.


02/05/2016 - 1:33pm I'm trying to reconcile the potential size of the next class . .

I understand the 18 roster spots that are opening up because players are ending their eligibility at Michgan.  15 of those players are projected starters (16 if you include special teams) with the two non-special teams backups being RB Drake Johnson and WR Damario Jones (who quite frankly may not be with the team at the start of the 2016 season--the same also goes for OL Blake Bars).

Outside of attrition for grades and medical reasons, I don't know how much more fat is on the bone regarding players who might not be around for the 2017 season.  CB Freddy Canteen looks like he'll be buried on the depth chart and is a possible transfer.  DT Brady Pallante comes to mind as well, but there might be a defensive line depth problem after 2016 with the departures of Glasgow, Wormley, Charlton and Godin (it's a shame U-M coulfn't have gotten one more interior d-lineman in this class alone with a true offensive tackle).  Maybe an offensive lineman, but because so many of them leave at the end of 2016 (Magnuson, Kalis, Braden and perhaps Bars if he sticks around), I don't know if you want to make cuts there.

I'm hard pressed to think that this next class will get to that maximum amount of 28/29 players mentioned in this post.  Even 25 might be a bit of a stretch.  Wouldn't it be more likely we'll see a class of around 22 or 23 recruits given the number of players leaving plus the rather large number of recruits over the last two classes.

We'll see what happens, but whatever takes place, this team will shift from one that's fairly veteran in 2016 to one that's much more inexperienced in 2017.  That doesn't even include players who may leave for the NFL early, i.e., Jabrill Peppers.



02/03/2016 - 9:59pm UCLA and Texas are already on Michigan's future schedules . .

Michigan has home and homes scheduled with UCLA (2022/3), Texas (2024/7) and Oklahoma (2025/6).

I could see Stanford and Tennessee both as possible candidates to add to the list.  If Michigan is willing to play two Power 5 teams non-conference, then it might happen before 2027.  If not, then the earliest we're looking at if nothing else changes is 2028 or beyond.

02/03/2016 - 9:54pm It takes two to tango . . .

Notre Dame has three scheduling spots open for 2018, but only one for 2019.  It also appears they may have no September dates open for 2019, so that may be problematic as well.

My guess is that UM will fill those two open non-conference slots with non-Power 5 opponents (Michigan has SMU in 2018 and Army in 2019).  The Wolverines open with Arkansas both those seasons and have a home game with Nebraska in 2018.  Adding ND to that lineup probably doesn't make sense if you're looking at putting a team in the national championship playoff.

Brandon had been moving U-M away from playing MAC teams and perhaps Hackett/Harbaugh will go the same way, i.e., play a program from the American or Mountain West Conferences.

I just think it lines up better for 2020/1 for the reasons I stated above.  It also gives all the schools enough lead time so if games have to be cancelled or rescheduled, those program ADs can contact new opponents to fill the open schedule slot.

Of course, all this assumes Notre Dame is the opponent (and Hackett has made it plain he would like to see the series renewed).  It could be another school like Stanford or Georgia or Texas A&M.  We'll see in due course.

02/03/2016 - 8:23pm If I had to hazard a guess . . .

If I had to hazard a guess, Hackett is looking to drop one or both of Washington and Virginia Tech in the 2020/1 seasons and get Notre Dame in a home-and-home for those two years.

I thought it was odd that Brandon contracted two pretty good Power 5 Conference teams on the non-conference schedule for those two years.  It became doubly problematic when the Big Ten opted to go to a nine-team confernce schedule.

ND has nine games published to date on various website for the 2020/1 seasons.  Five are with ACC teams and the four other opponents are USC, Stanford, Navy and Purdue.  That means there are three open scheduling spots for each of those seasons.

There are problems though.  If the Big Ten keeps its current schedule rotation, 2020 is a year when Michigan plays at Ohio State and at Michigan State.  U-M would want ND in Ann Arbor that year, but that would be the sixth road game for the Irish that year (including one in Los Angeles with USC).  In the past, ND has wanted to balance out their USC/UM rotation.  That said, ND is playing at Ohio State in 2022 (and hosts the Buckeyes in 2023), so that may turn out to be a non-issue.

As far as the OSU/MSU "problem" is concerned, I don't think anything is going to change in the near term.  The Big Ten has ranked PSU > MSU since they made up the Legends and Leaders Divisions when Nebraska joined the conference and it's obvious they still think that way.

So for the next four years, we'll see Wisconsin-Penn State-Indiana-Maryland all at home or on the road and Ohio State-Michigan State-Rutgers opposite them with two of the remaining six Big Ten teams cycling through the schedule each year.  It might not serve the OSU/MSU v. Michigan rivalry very well, but it does balance out the overall schedule.

11/04/2015 - 10:55am Have you taken a look at Michigan's future football schedules?

The 2016 football schedule will have eight home games on it, but the non-conference portion was put in place prior to the Big Ten adopting a nine-game confernce schedule.  It was supposed to include a road game at Notre Dame, but with that contest scheduled and with the B10 putting five conference games on UM's schedule, we now have the Wolverines playing in Ann Arbor against Hawaii, Colorado, Central Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maryland and Indiana.  

The 2017 schedule includes four home conference games (Michigan State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Ohio State) along with two home non-conference games (Cincinnati and Air Force).  The neutral site game with Florida was announced in Decmeber 2013--about five months after the Big Ten announced its nine-game schedules.  That means Brandon was willing to accept a six game home schedule plus the payout that UM would get from Jerry Jones to play UF in Dallas.

In 2018, Michigan again has five home conference games (Nebraska, Maryland, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana) and four conference games (at Northwestern, at Michigan State, at Rutgers, at Ohio State).  The two non-conference games include the season home opener with Arkansas and SMU.  Hackett and Harbaugh have to make a decision on that final non-conference opponent.  Will it be a pay for play team or a  home-and-home series for 2018 and probably 2019?   If the former, Michigan will again be playing eight home games in 2018 and six for 2019.  If the latter, then we could see seven home games in 2018 and six in 2019.

In 2020/21, Brandon scheduled two home-and-home series with Washington and Virginia Tech.  If Hackett/Harbaugh don't change that, then Michigan will probably be playing seven home games in 2020 and just six in 2021.

The bottom line to all this is that Brandon was apparently willing to have just six home games on the schedule.  Did he think that television revenue would offset the lost in ticket sales?  Did he think giving UM an overall more difficult schedue was better in some way?  We don't know.  In 2017, admittedly, the neutral site game will pay essentially the same as a home game.  But 2019 and 2021 could be different stories, especially since Hackett says he doesn't want to play neutral site games.

We'll see what happens,but my best assessment is that Michigan will have pay for play opponents in 2018 and 2019 to round out the non-conference schedule and ensure that UM has eight and six home games those two years.  I'll be curious to see if he opts to keep both Washington and Virginia Tech on the 2020/1 schedules or not.

Finally, of course, we have Hackett's flirtation with Notre Dame.  Between 2022 and 2027, Michigan has home-and-home series with UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas.  Does he drop one of those teams for ND or does had add the Irish to the non-conference schedule in any of those years?  Stay tuned. 


10/21/2015 - 8:45am Is Michigan's 2016 non-conference schedule "too weak"?

Because the Big Ten opted to go to a nine-game conference schedule and Notre Dame cancelled its series with Michigan, the Wolverines will be playing Hawaii, Colorado and Central Florida all at home next season.  To date, these three teams have win-loss records of 2-5, 3-4 and 0-7 respectively.  I doubt they're going to be a Murderer's Row when 2016 rolls around.

The rest of Michigan's schedule includes five home games (Wisconsin, Penn State, Illinois, Maryland, Indiana) and four on the road (at Rutgers, at Michigan State, at Iowa, at Ohio State).   All this means that Michigan will have eight games in Ann Arbor next season.

So is Michigan's 2016 non-conference schedule "too weak"?  If the team goes undefeated or has one regular season loss, but wins the conference title game, do the Wolverines get eliminated from the four team playoff with that line up of games?  If the answer is no, then perhaps U-M shouldn't play any major Power 5 teams on its schedule and just have three "pay for play" opponents to ensure the maximum number of home games along with the attendant ticket revenue.

Analysts and some college football fans might think otherwise, but take a look at this year's Ohio State football schedule.  Their four non-conference games were at Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.  Those teams are 3-4, 2-5, 4-3 and 3-3 so far this season.  OSU is the #1 ranked team in the country in most polls, but are they being penalized in any way because of their non-conference schedule.  The CFB playoff committee will be making their rankings in a couple of weeks and we may know more than, but my guess is that the answer would be no.  

My assessment is that any team that wins out from a major conference or has a one loss season but wins its conference championship game is very highly likely to be among the four teams chosen by that committee.  A Big XII program or major independent with one loss is a different story because I imagine the committee will look a bit more closely at their overall and non-conference schedules.






10/20/2015 - 6:50pm For Michigan starting in 2016, it's sort of a non-issue . . . .

With the Big Ten going to a nine-game conference schedule with the plan that the top teams from each division will play one another, the non-conference schedule is sort of a non-issue.  There's no real incentive to "schedule up".

More likely than not, Jim Hackett and Jim Harbaugh are going to opt to keep just one major Power 5 team on the schedule and have two pay for play games in the other non-conference schedule slots.

We'll know more once the 2018/9 schedules are firmed up.  U-M opens with Arkansas (home in 2018, road in 2019) both seasons and has SMU in 2018 (scheduled by Brandon) and Army in 2019 (scheduled by Hackdett).  Hackett and Harbaugh are going to be responsible for picking the third non-conference opponent for each of those seasons.

Also keep in mind that Wisconsin is on the schedule every year from 2016 to 2019.  Here's the list of Western Division opponents for those years:

2016 - Wisconsin (Big Ten season opener after bye week), Illinois, at Iowa

2017 - at Wisconsin (the Saturday before hosting Ohio State), at Purdue, Minnesota

2018 - Wisconsin, Nebraska (Big Ten season opener), at Northwestern

2019 - at Wisconsin (Big Ten season opener), at Illinois, Iowa

Seeing that Wisconsin is the B1G season opener in 2018 and 2019, I have to imagine Hackett/Harbaugh are going to look for pay to play opponents those seasons--probably a team from the Mountain West or American Athletic Conference given recent history.

And yes, folks, the 2018 home schedule will include Arkansas, SMU, Nebraska, Maryland, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana and one TBD non-conference opponent.  That's eight home games and only four on the road (at Northwestern, at Michigan State, at Rutgers and at Ohio State).

I will be curious to see if Hackett and Harbaugh keep Washington and Virginia Tech on the 2020/1 schedule.  Given the nine-game Big Ten schedule and the plan to have the top teams in the two B1G divisions match up with one another, it might make sense to drop the UDub or VaTech home-and-home series and replace it with a couple of pay for play opponents from a non Power 5 conference.



10/12/2015 - 4:41pm How does Michigan get to 85 scholarships for next season?

U-M currently has 82 players on scholarship with 13 leaving with no more eligibility left (or perhaps 12 if Michigan wins an appeal for Ojemudia to play one more year) and 22 already in this recruting class.  That puts the projected number of scholarship players at 91 with no more changes, i.e., medical redshirts, transfers, additional recruits, etc.

I could certainly see Michigan getting a 28-man class for 2016 with a number of these players gray shirting and counting against the 2017 class.  It's not something that Jim Delany approves of, but I have little doubt he'd turn a blind eye for a blue-chip program as he negotiates television rights with the major networks.

So let's say that three players get reclassified to the 2017 class (along with our Candian cornerback).  Now what happens?  Right now, Michigan has to winnow out six players currently on the roster who have eligibility.  Add more players and that number gets larger.

Quarterback will have six players at that position in 2016 (that includes Victor Viramontes).  That position looks to be above the norm in terms of numbers.  The RB situation is going to be even more unwieldy.  If Kareem Walker does flip to U-M, he'll be one of eleven running backs on the roster come next season.  Shallman (or perhaps Winovich) may end up as a fullback, but that's still a lot of scholarships dedicated to one position.

It'll be interesting to see what happens.  The 2017 class should be large (27 players end their eligibility at the end of 2016), so there's certainly room to gray shirt players.  But some interesting decisions are going to have to be made in terms of roster management.

I'm looking at the roster to see how many players might not get that fifth year.  TE Tom Strobel, LB Allen Gant (in a position that is going to lose a lot of depth) and DB Terry Richardson come to mind.  Every other  potential candidate (including K Kenny Allen) should be major contributors for the 2016 season.

I'm confident the coaches will do right by the recruits and the players, but roster management and the process of getting to that 85 scholarship limit are going to be interesting to watch. 


09/30/2015 - 11:31am What organizational changes has Hackett made?

You say there's been an organizational change, but outside of Hackett being more hands off than Brandon, what exactly has changed?  

I ask because I noted that Chrissi Rawak is a Brandon hire and she appears to be doing the same job that she was bought on to do by the previous athletic director.  Kurt Svoboda, OTOH, is the new communications director who came in from Stanford earlier this year.  Elizabeth Heinrich, who is chief of compliance, was also a Brandon hire.

A lot of people were callling for some sort of Stalinist purge of Brandon's hires, but that hasn't happened yet to my knowledge.  To his credit, Hackett has taken the people already in place and worked with them (to no one's surprise) differently than Brandon.

I think it's great that he meets with the students to give them some sense of empowerment.  But when the rubber meets the road, Hackett still has to look to not only covering the athletic department's expenses (which may get greater if athletes are paid), but seeking new revenue to cover them.  

What would be very interesting--especially to the students--to find out is exactly how he plans to do that.  The Big Ten has a new contract coming up for the television rights, but will that offset the current and future costs of running the Michigan AD?  Brandon built up the outreach and donor programs for the athletic department to fund new buildings, etc.?  Is Hackett going to keep that operation in place?  

09/22/2015 - 6:22pm No . . .

North Dakota State is a FCS team and the Big Ten is looking to prohibit any B1G team from playing teams in that division (such as Iowa's annual game with Northern Iowa or Illinois playing one of the directional FCS teams in their state, etc.)

But yes, Army and Troy are "legit" in the eyes of the Big Ten and the USMA counts as a P5 equivalent.  

I suspect one of the reasons this rule has been put in place is due to the television contract negotiations that are about to take place between the conference and the networks.  Having an inventory of games that doesn't include any FCS programs is probably considered a value added proposition by the B1G (and hopefully, by the networks).  The same goes with going to a nine-game conference schedule--it lowers the opportunity of putting tomato cans on the non-conference schedule.

The question that the UM Athletic Department may be dealing with is how many P5 teams (or equivalents) do they want to put on the non-conference schedule?  Michigan has two in 2020/1 in VIrginia Tech and Washington.  There are open scheduling slots in 2018/9 and Michigan already has a home-and-home with Arkansas those two seasons.  

The same discussion goes with the year extending out to 2027 when Michigan has home-and-homes with UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas.  Does U-M opt to play a second P5 team in the non-conference schedule in those seasons or not?  If yes, what sort of opponent do you pair up with the Bruins, Sooners and Longhorns during the next decade?  Do you go for some of the P5's lesser lights such as Vanderbilt, Wake Forest or Duke?  Do you go for a middle of the road program like California or North Carolina or Texas Tech?

I doubt U-M would go for a second blue chip team on those schedules, so the idea of Notre Dame being on any of them until 2028 doesn't seem very likely (unless one of the home-and-home series I mentioned above is moved or postponed). 

09/22/2015 - 6:10pm Yes, Army is on the 2019 football schedule . . . . shows Michigan opening the 2019 season at Arkansas on August 31 with Army being the home opener on September 7.   By the Big Ten's rule, Michigan has two acceptable Power 5 or Equivalent teams for that season.

The same goes for 2020 and 2021.  Michigan has two home-and-home series with Virginia Tech and Washington those seasons.  U-M opens the 2020 season at Washington and then plays Ball State and Virginia Tech at Michigan Stadium.  The 2021 season opener hasn't been announced yet, but Week 2 is at Virginia Tech (9/11/21) and then Washington comes to Ann Arbor in Week 3 (9/18/21). 

Michigan also has home-and-home series with UCLA (2022/3), Oklahoma (2024/7) and Texas (2025/6).  The 2023 game at UCLA and the two games with Texas appear to be season openers.

IN 2016, Colorado fills the bill and the 2017 season opener with Florida in Dallas, Texas also fills out the Big Ten's requirement.  All the games mentioned above were scheduled by former AD David Brandon (with the exception of Army).


According to, Michigan will pay the United States Military Academy $1.5M to play in Ann Arbor.  Army currently leads the series 5-4.  This game was announced back in July and is the first contest that interim AD Jim Hackett and HC Jim Harbaugh have put on the schedule.




09/15/2015 - 6:11pm What money does ND smell?

Notre Dame's contract with NBC is pretty much set, so they're not going to get any extra cash from the network because Michigan is on the schedule.

Perhaps they could make more on tickets by selling them at a premium, but they could probably do the same with the programs they have on the early season schedule in the coming years.  The next two seasons include games in September with Michigan State and Georgia.  I have a feeling ND would be able to sell out those games with little problem.