Dave Brandon seeks 'wow' factor when it comes to Michigan football scheduling
He hasn't scheduled a football game in Europe, or held one on an aircraft carrier -- yet -- but Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has certainly changed the norm when it comes to Michigan football scheduling.
The days of Bo Schembechler's decree that games are meant to be played at noon on Saturday appear to be fading quickly, even at Michigan.
"Part of the objective, and there are a lot of objectives when you're putting a schedule together," Brandon said recently, "but part of the objective is to create contests that are interesting to people.
"(Contests) that are fascinating to people and contests that people want to talk about."
Last season, Brandon turned on the lights at Michigan Stadium for the first time ever when the Wolverines hosted Notre Dame at night -- a concept Brandon maintains he's not opposed to repeating at some point down the road.
AnnArbor.com file photo
To open this season, Brandon inked a deal with defending national champion Alabama for the Cowboys Classic, which will be played in Arlington, Texas. The game takes one traditional guaranteed home game away from the Wolverines, but also adds a national prime-time pop against the country's best team on college football's opening weekend.
And it doesn't stop there, either.
Michigan will revisit one of its biggest nightmares to open the 2014 season when Appalachian State returns to Ann Arbor seven years after it stunned Lloyd Carr's Wolverines, 34-32.
In 2015, Michigan will play on a Thursday night for the first time when it visits Utah for a game that will be the very first game played -- anywhere in the country -- that year.
And if that weren't enough, Colorado will visit Michigan in 2016. That's right, the same Colorado program that beat Michigan on Kordell Stewart's now famous hail mary in 1994.
There are storylines galore. And, according to Brandon, that's done intentionally.
"I don't know why those games came to the tip of your tongue, but they probably did because they're out there," Brandon said. "And (we hear the questions of) 'should we play Appalachian State? A Thursday night game? A neutral site game?'
"Those are all ways we're out there doing innovative things for us and creating a lot of interest and attention for our football program."
Some Michigan football purists are quick to criticize certain scheduling tweaks Brandon has made in recent years, from the home night game to a neutral-site contest to a Thursday evening affair. Some people would still rather have it the old way.
Brandon himself has admitted that his old coach, if he were alive, probably wouldn't be too pleased with some of his scheduling ideas.
But at day's end, he maintains every new or different idea he and his staff come up with for football scheduling is done to give the players and fans the best possible game experience they can have.
"I would think every Michigan fan out there would enjoy that and feel good about it," he said of his intentions. "That's part of what we want to accomplish."