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Posted on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Dave Brandon pushes strength of schedule, discusses ongoing Big Ten-Pac 12 scheduling alliance

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is still hopeful strength of schedule remains a top priority for the college football playoff committee. file photo

Once upon a time, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon seemed directly opposed to a college football playoff, preferring the preservation of the Bowl Championship Series instead.

Then, as time went on, Brandon began to come around, saying his opposition to a playoff was often mischaracterized and he'd certainly back a four-team playoff system that included bowl games.

There's been a bit of this, that and the other from Brandon when it comes to his take on a world with a college football playoff. But through it all, one thing has remained completely consistent.

Strength of schedule has to be a top -- if not the top -- priority when it comes to slotting the playoff brackets.

"We, nor any other team in America, (should not) be penalized for taking on a really tough opponent early in the season in the non-conference and maybe lose a close game," Brandon told reporters last week. "That should not be a death blow to a program that wants to compete at the national level.

"And, hopefully, that will be the case."

Brandon was one of several Big Ten athletic directors to express this notion at the conference's spring meetings in May.

He has routinely maintained a position at Michigan to schedule "unique" and "interesting" games during the early portion of the season. In most years, that also includes a long-standing rivalry with Notre Dame.

Brandon also said he would wait to move forward with Michigan's future schedules as long as he could, in an effort to gauge just how much the strength of schedule component will come into play with the new playoff selection committee.

The committee has yet to be formed, and Brandon says he "can't be confident of anything, I don't even know who the selection committee is." That said, he's at least hearing schedule strength will be an important factor -- and now he's crossing his fingers.

"What I have read and heard (is that) one of the things the selection committee is going to weigh is conference championships and strength of schedule," he said. "And I think that's terrific.

"Now, how that translates and gets operationalized in terms of who the committee is and how they ultimately arrive at who the top four teams are remains to be seen. But I like what I'm hearing."

One way the Big Ten has tried to make strength of schedule matter for all its members has been the new scheduling alliance with the Pac-12.

Brandon officially got Michigan involved in the scheduling pact last week by announcing future games with Utah, Oregon State and Colorado.

Naturally, some Michigan fans held their collective breath hoping to see the Wolverines tangle with Pac-12 powers USC, Stanford or Oregon -- but Brandon explained, right now anyway, figuring out a way to match traditional power vs. traditional power within this scheduling agreement isn't the simplest thing in the world.

Brandon has backed a "tier system" that pits the best teams in each league against one another, but so far, that hasn't materialized.

"This collaboration is still being weighed and measured," he said. "It was announced and both conference commissioners are very committed to it, a lot of us think it's a great idea, but at some point it has to transition from a great idea to 'how do you operationalize and schedule it?'

"We're at a moment now where we simply have to wait for this collaboration to take shape and get into some of the details of how that all happens before I can really tell you."

Brandon maintains his position that the Big Ten-Pac-12 agreement is a good idea, and can be utilized to bring about top-level schedules for all involved.

But now, he says, comes the hard part.

"The concept is a really good one," he said. "But now it's like, 'OK, we've got to make this happen.' We've got all these teams with schedules out years in the future and now they're juggling all these balls to figure out how to put it together.

"There's a lot of work being put into it. ... Stay tuned."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Gabrial Mielke

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

I totally agree on SoS being a major factor (if not the most important) in deciding who goes to the playoffs. But I also think that Non-Conference games should be weighed A LOT more then conference games. Only because the school can pick and choose who the want to play out of conference. They can't pick who their conference opponents are. They are required to play all (or most) teams in their conference and those games are predetermined years in advance. It shouldn't be held against a school that the rest of the teams in their conference are not that good, but are still forced to schedule them. Maybe assign a standard value to the strength of teams, then multiple that by a factor of 10 for non conference games. Those teams that choose to schedule tough out of conference games and seek a challenge will get rewarded. Also, I think that determining SoS should be held off until the end of the season. Some teams beat the #1 team in the nation the first week, only to have that so called #1 team loose 4 or 5 more games and are not even ranked at the end of the season. I guess they weren't really that good, so that win against them should really count as beating the #1 team, even if they were "ranked" that in the first week. Wait until all games are played, then determine who are the good and bad teams, then determine SoS. Just my two cents.

Soft Paw

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

No point in worrying about the national championship playoffs when you aren't even the best team in your state anymore.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Like last year? Or are you talking about this upcoming season? The one that hasn't been played yet?


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.



Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Heartbreak...why are people now saying LC was basically retired? I thought he was a Michigan Man and gave 100% to the program. Did he become lax on his recruiting? If he did, then I guess the cupboard WAS bare, after all, Lloyd was practically retired.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Agree with steve above--LC didn't do a good job coaching the team early that year--probably half retired. But that shellacking was one of the two worst I remember at M stadium in recent years--the other being the 1998 Syracuse whipping when Donovan McNabb was the QB and they moved the ball at will. Essentially that score was 38-7 with 3 meaningless fourth quarter TDs. Interestingly, both followed heartbreaking losses--1998 to ND after the national championship (brady's first game), and of course 2007 App State


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I don't care how much Recent success oregon has had their still, ducks, quack, quack !

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

steve, your going mano a mano with a guy whose "handle" is a (nearly) 5 year old football score.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Coach Carr had already retired the year before that shellacking - he just didn't tell anyone about it. Wait 'til we meet again. You'll see a defense much better than anything the PAC 12 has to offer.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

I am glad that DB is changing his tune and beginning to embrace the challenges rather than shying away from them. I think that is the right way to schedule and the university, its football program, and sport of college football will all benefit. Everyone in the country wants to see these high profile matchups, and hopefully DB follows through.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

In Dave I trust. I believe Dave has Mich. athletics in their best collective interest. Looks like some interesting match ups coming down the pike. It will be a gradual build for us to be a big time contender after the down hill slide the last several years, 2011 not included. Getting back as an elite is a slow moving beast that will take a bit of time hopefully expedited by Brady Hoke and staff.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

I like the idea of strength of schedule playing a prominent roll in theory. But only if the NCAA would/could agree on a single formula. I don't know how many formulas there are now but there is more than 1.