You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Dave Brandon seeks 'wow' factor when it comes to Michigan football scheduling

By Nick Baumgardner

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.


When finding opponents for the Michigan football team, athletic director Dave Brandon says 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." 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.

Bo's 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."

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



Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4 a.m.

For the most serious possible WOW! why not a 99 year contract to open every year with Alabama alternating home venues? THAT would be a WOW and a great instantly created North South Rivalry! I have a lot of Bama friends and they are good sports and fun to banter with. They have class and face it - the series would very quickly rival the Michigan vs OSU game! It's a win win for Both storied programs! I haven't been this excited for the opening game since i was 8 years old (40 years ago) and discovered the adrenaline rush of Wolverine football! I would love to play Bama every year 1st game of the year and test our mettle plus get as jump start in the polls. The game would get coast to coast national coverage - everybody would tune in too see what both powerhouses have! I don't know why nobody sees this obvious coup of college powerhouse checkmate moves!? DAVE??? ANYONE??? We have the Nads ... This is Michigan forGodsakes!!!


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.


Dennis Allman

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

I have been a season ticket holder since the '70s. I don't begrudge MAC teams coming to Michigan for the big check, but how many times can you stand to watch Michigan vs EMU? The Michigan vs Toledo game is reason enough to schedule outside the MAC. It is a no win situation. If the Big 10 thumps MAC team which is the case 99.9999 % of the time, all it does is bring the ESPN experts out of the woodwork to critize the Big 10. When a MAC team, such as Toledo catches Michigan or Purdue on an off Saturday, the Big 10 is again critized. I hope the scheduling gets betyter. Better by scheduling at least .500 teams from the top conference around the country. Pick Houston, they are good every now and then. Look at where Utahhas gone. From an also ran to a Pac 12 team. Dave Brandon is very innovative and I like it.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

If Dave wants to bring Michigan into the 21st century, he has to go be a leader in scheduling big time games against great teams and high profile night games. By scheduling teams like Alabama this fall and Utah on Thursday night next year you get that. But home games against App ST, Airfoce, UNLV, UMASS, and a weak Colorado don't get you much other than a typical home game payday which is still pretty good. But not what you get if those home games were against USC, Texas, Oklahoma, LSU etc. If Dave really wants to set things on fire, schedule home and homes with the big boys.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

So, who is our first game with of the 2012 season ?


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

These are great ideas to create excitement and change the old school. I commend the team for the progress they have made in a short period of a time and look forward to things to come! Go Blue...and keep it coming!


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

Bringing back Colorado and Appalachian State is good. At least now we can right two wrongs. But Brandon is still afraid of Toledo. I am not reading about a rematch against those hooligans found near the Michigan/Ohio border. Perhaps he realizes that the Rockets are unbeatable. But the games against UCONN and Massachusetts seem a bit silly.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Dear Dave, I am a Michigan native unfortunately living in Mississippi currently. Please schedule Mississippi State for a nonconference. These people act like they own us when they beat us on that fluke day in Jacksonville. And convince their chicken AD to break out of scheduling SWAC schools for nonconference and come to the Big House! Kthanxbye!


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

Pay the athletes


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

The topic you bring up is highly debatable. However, not nearly as cut an dry as you believe it to be.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.



Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

If Dave Brandon is such an innovator and a progressive Athletic Director, why isn't he advocating for the athletes to be paid. He is satisfied with his huge salary and injury free football career so its nice that he is able to sit back and "be innovative." College football is nothing more than an exploitative factory very similar to slavery.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

Television rules the world.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

(That's one of the main reasons games are played at varying times and even on varying days. In fact, that is one huge reason. Money makes the world go 'round. TV spreads the money around. The end.)


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

Dave, you are losing me. Reminding me of the famous Disco night @ Comiskey Park Tigers v. White Sox! That had the 'WOW' factor!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

Wasn't that great? Exploding disco discs! Never forget it.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

David Brandon, although it's hard to believe anyone could improve the image of Michigan football and please it's faithful - has done exactly that ! He isn't threatened by job security, he doesn't want to be a sit-down guy and just put in his hours and go home. Mr. Brandon wants to work 24/7 for Michigan football (and the other sports) and do what he can to for 'the people' (us) as mentioned in all three of his objective and goal sentences. Like Michigan football, I'll take whatever they give me on game day and enjoy. Although, I'm sure there will be small instances in scheduling I won't always agree with - I believe in Dave Brandon and Michigan football. We're going to have great ride ! MgoBlueForTiM....get aboard this train or stand in the dust.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 6:03 a.m.

Michigan football was the laughing stock of all-sports-networks before Dave Brandon came in and cleaned the place up. A few weeks ago, Penn State press was horrible, Auburn press was horrible, and I'll admit we had one fellow slide across a car hood. But the headline for a while: Michigan to honor former president Ford. That is smart moves by upper administration.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Just wish it wasn't all promo all the time.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

I think some folks resent that Dave is doing a good job. Some folks just do not like a positive whether it's beneficial or not it's a common human emotion called jealousy of those that have or are doing an excellent job.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 7:14 p.m. my good friend Theo....brush off that dust, I've got a ticket and a reserved seat for you on this 'speeding bullet'.....please come home.......


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Great but if he likes the wow factor why didn't he want to send a band to the biggest game on the schedule (Michigan vs. Alabama) ? Also, 6 million to paint the big house when they just spend 250 million to renovate it?


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Actually Terry, it was a sleazy way to get some alums to pick up part of the tab. Might be "good business", but its not a Champion by any definition I know.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Now Scott....the sign of a professional that cares about a University and it's fans is to listen to those people....David Brandon did - and quickly made amends for those people. Now that's a Champion, willing to admit an error and correct it for the good of all Michigan. First Class AD!


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

One game against Alabama...App. St.?, Colorado?, home and home with Utah?, come on lots of "new and innovative" hype. As previously stated keep this up and S.O.S. is going to bite you in the behind. Looks like a early 2000's schedule for Kansas State, you better blow them out or your season is over. If U of M is "leaders" then schedule one local school to start and do a home and home with an SEC, a Big 12, and a PAC 10 team for the next three games. That will show U of M are "leaders" and if you show up on the field "victors."


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I've said this before. No more cupcakes. Play the best. Beat the best. Be the best. Prove it on the field. A traditional top three team from the SEC, PAC12, and Big12, and one other traditional top 20 program every season (ideally ND finds a decent coach and we keep the rivalry alive). This is Michigan fergodssakes!


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 8 p.m.

I agree with you. I don't like the argument about what everybody else is doing, because we shouldn't be concerned. Take care of your own house, and have a respectable schedule, like they used to before the mid 1990s. If Michigan is good enough, we will win more of those games than we lose and prove worthiness


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

All teams play cupcakes. Maybe we can schedule the Lions would that make you happy oh wait, the Lions are a cupcake team.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I love Bo and respect what he did and brought to Michigan football. That said, to do only as what we think Bo would have done is foolish in this quickly-changing world of football that is less and less like the one Bo coached in. Keep pushing it, Dave. Bo doesn't know what is good for Michigan in 2012 just as these old-timely drag-your-feet traditionalists don't. You were chosen to bring Michigan football into the future for a reason. Don't let their whining slow you down! Go Blue! Sincerely, A 21st century Michigan fan

Joshua Nagelkerke

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Couldn't agree more.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

The positive spin about App State doesn't make me rethink that is/was a bad idea. Having a U-Mass rematch is also uneventful. Guess Brady Hoke will get to play the 3rd and 4th stringers on the depth chart. If Michigan does roll over these teams, then something's wrong. The Air Force game should be exciting given their ultra-spread offesne and we have to honor the second U-Conn part of that agreement.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

I would like to see some home games with in state Mac teams as they have done on the past. For an EMU, WMU, or Central football team/player to play at the Big House is a huge experience. Plus the programs get money which they can definitely use. A lot of these players work as hard as the UM players so it would be nice to give them this huge experience.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

I believe you'll continue to see that, and as a CMU grad I see it as a nice touch to schedule the in state MAC teams. But M's non conference schedule has to be more than MAC and Conference USA. CMU has done a good job of playing anybody, anywhere, anytime, including at USC, FL, Michigan, Nebraska.

Pat Dolan

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

UM v Alabama = Wow! UM at Jerryworld = Meh. UM v LSU = Wow! UM v UMass with jet fighters at night = Meh. UM v Notre Dame = Wow! UM v Notre Dame at night = Wow, but not because it's at night. UM winning the Big Ten = Wow! UM playing for the NC = Wow! UM winning the NC = Wow! See the pattern?

Spartan Bob

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

I don't care if there are changes or not. The only thing I never ever want to change is the philosophy of the team. As Al Davis once said, "just win, baby."


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Okay, Spartan Bob !


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

(1)"(Contests) that are fascinating to people and contests that people want to talk about." (2) "There are storylines galore. And, according to Brandon, that's done intentionally." Intentionally indeed: while I make watching Michigan Football my number one *entertainment* priority, I also keep Michigan Football firmly in the "Entertainment for the sole sake of distracting me from my duties as an American and Michigan citizen" Category. Dave Brandon has proven to have a genius for inventing new and novel ways to keep us distracted by Michigan Football. Certainly, his current paychecks amounting to over $600,000 per year are in no way threatened (rather, he probably has a secret contract guaranteeing that much and more in perpetuity). Meanwhile, most of us struggle for decades to acquire $600,000 for our retirement funds. Being "independently wealthy" after all is only for -- the independently wealthy and they will see to it that it remains that way. Our American Ethos, not withstanding.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

I agree tru....he's not threatened - Brandon does this for Michigan fans and all of America, who love the wolverines.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Just for the record, in Bo's early era games started at 1:30, not 1:00, with Bob Ufer coming on live at 1:15 and playing locker room interviews with Bo and the opposing coach, even Dr. StrangeHayes. It would have been totally weird for a game to come on at noon. I hate many things that have changed, but the upside is the expansion of athletics made possible by the growth in revenues in the football program. Remember this, the way things are done now may seem like change to you, but it's the norm for people growing up now. I admit it's better now to be in Virginia and able to watch or select from 2 or 3 B1G games at noon and 2 more at 3:30. The bizarre thing is that those living in parts of Michigan without cable are not able to see but a couple of Michigan games a year, while I can watch all of them here 700 miles away. When I was young Michigan was never on TV, then for years only the Ohio game. I'm thankful things have changed because I can watch the amazing maize and blue winged helmets take the field every damn Saturday.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

I've also watched Michigan games in Panama, Puerto Rico, and Mexico!


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

There are a few Olympic hopefuls from Michigan who should be very happy that football pays the bills for their scholarships and training facilities.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Yes RW, I'm out in Calif, I live in the High Desert and I see every Mich. game on the Tele. and I'm not talking about a sports package, regular TV.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

You are correct RW...but he did say (Saturday) 1:00pm in a quote (probably rounding off) Ufer, too good !


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Can't wait for the Colorado game!!!! (wait Colorado is terrible and has been for the last few years)

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.


Wally the Wolverine

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Nice spin Dave, but there is nothing interesting or fascinating about scheduling App State. If/when we beat them, we still lose. With the death of the BCS system, our strength of schedule in 2015 could potentially keep us out of the 4-team playoff. Sheer anti-genius.


Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 6:12 a.m.

You seriously think that the SOS will be a problem? In the 2000s Utah has finished in the Top 25 4 or 5 times (depending on which poll you're looking at) and is 9 - 1 in bowl games; that figures to be a decent game. Oregon St is usually in the lower tier of the PAC 12, but when you look at RPI sorts of numbers they're not all that horrible (better than anybody on MSU's non-conference schedule last year other than ND); that's a middling game on the schedule. Then there's ND; that's a good game on the schedule. UNLV is weak, but few if any teams have schedules without at least one of those. Then there's the conference schedule. That year Wisconsin comes back on the schedule as a crossover game. OSU is always the "protected crossover", of course. At this point we don't know where Illinois will be at that point in year 4 of Beckman's tenure. Then there is the usual depth of the Legends division: Neb, Iowa, MSU, NW. If Michigan doesn't get into the playoff that year it will be because they didn't win enough, not because of the SOS.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

See now, this just goes to show you differences in opinions. I like that App State game and I hope we put a whoopin on em. Of course there is always the chance we could lose again. The last meeting came down to the wire, man talk about an adrenalin rush, now there's the price of a ticket.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Bravo for Brandon on the football scheduling. Without change there is no growth.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

Unfortunately, without change there is no diminution, either.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I still prefer Saturday, 1:00.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

Me too.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

I prefer the 1:00 time slot to but hey, my hair is falling out even though I prefer to Keep my hair.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

In fairness, there has not been a 1:00 game in years. But I agree with your sentiment. At least in daylight.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

These are things you would expect them to do if they couldn't fill the stadium. That really isn't a problem for Michigan.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

I think the debacle of 3 years under RR made them nervous look, the stadium still needs a paint job among other things. How many decades ago was Chrysler arena built. Even when you think your doing well in business you better be constantly thinking of ways to improve and keep things modern. Those that don't will eventually be eating the dust of those that do.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Good for Dave Brandon. This is entertainment in it's purest form and it is expensive entertainment and the daily operation of this entertainment is very costly. Bend but don't break that's the ticket and I think Dave is on the money on this one. I'm in my 60's and I don't always like change but I can't see where Dave has any choice in this case with the big stage that college ball has turned into.


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

Brandon should not react to what Mark Hollis does... he needs to chart his own course with Michigan.

Wally the Wolverine

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

I tend to agree bragg. It seems to have the appearance of "oh-oh, I better do something to get us back on the front page".


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Change is not only good, it is the natural order of things, even at Michigan


Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

Agree with you Wally. Bringing Colorado back is a no-brainer, even if they have struggled recently. Bringing App State back? That is ridiculous, and should not have even been scheduled last time (I said this before we lost to them--not just because we lost). There is creative tough scheduling, and there is "gimmicky" scheduling. I fear that Brandon thinks we all have to be an NFL game, where there is a new promo every game, a new promo for every time out, a new promo for every camera shot. This is Michigan football we're talking about, not Domino's pizza.

Wally the Wolverine

Sat, Jun 30, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Agreed. Change is good for the right reason(s), not for the sake of change itself.