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Posted on Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

Here's how the Michigan football team's date with Air Force transpired

By Pete Bigelow

Scheduling non-conference football games can be a tricky endeavor for Air Force athletic director Dr. Hans J. Meuh - opponents are reluctant of an encounter with the Falcons’ triple-option offense.

So when Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon reached out to him in mid-November to discuss the possibility of a Michigan-Air Force matchup, he was a little surprised.

“He initiated the call, which humbled and honored us,” Meuh said Friday night.

Both teams had an open date on Sept. 8, 2012. The prospect of a game - the first between the two schools in 48 years - enticed both athletic directors.

Parameters on a one-game contract for a game on that date at Michigan Stadium had been in place for a while, according to Meuh, but a shakeup in the Mountain West Conference complicated the deal.

“Back in November, the conference was in such turmoil,” he said. “We didn’t know if we would have eight or nine conference games. There was a lot of uncertainty.

“Scheduling became an issue, but Dave was great. He was really patient.”

On Friday afternoon, the schools finally made it official. Michigan will host Air Force on Sept. 8, 2012. Financial terms of the agreement call for Michigan to pay Air Force $1.1 million.

It’s a one-game contract, but Meuh said both sides are open to discussing future meetings. He said he got the sense from Brandon that Michigan had plans to turn the contest into a special event that pays tribute to the nation’s armed forces, a trend Air Force has seen in recent non-conference games against Tennessee and Oklahoma.

“There’s a pro-military flavor in the country right now, that all of us are, of course, appreciating,” Meuh said. “People are looking at us and saying, ‘Boy, we’d really love to have them in our stadium.’”

Oregon was one of those schools - the Ducks had shown interest in playing the Falcons on the same date as the Wolveirines.

But Air Force would have had a stretch that included Oregon, TCU, Boise State and Notre Dame. Meuh thought Michigan was a more forgiving opponent.

But he got a little more than he bargained for.

Non-conference opponents can find Air Force’s unfamiliar triple-option offense difficult to defend, and that element of surprise may have worked in the Falcons’ favor.

But since Meuh and Brandon started discussing the game, Michigan has hired Brady Hoke as coach, who twice faced the Falcons in his two-year tenure at San Diego State.

“That’s the only downside for us now,” Meuh said, laughing. “The sad part is we thought we could come in and surprise someone, but now it works out that won’t be the case. He’s a very good coach.” For Michigan, the game comes one week following a season-opening spectacle against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The Wolverines also travel to Notre Dame in 2012, and have one more date to fill on their non-conference slate.

“Alabama, Air Force and Notre Dame make our non-conference schedule among the toughest in college football,” Brandon said in a written statement.

Air Force and Michigan may not have played since the Wolverines won, 24-7, on Sept. 26, 1964, but their histories intertwined during the 2010 season when Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson broke the NCAA single-season rushing record for a quarterback.

Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan had held the mark since he rushed for 1,494 yards during the 1996 season.

Robinson finished the 2010 season with 1,702 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Dankston Hughez

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

Marcus Roberson would be ours right now if it were not for the Firing of Rich Rod...


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

""The sad part is we thought we could come in and surprise someone, but now it works out that won't be the case. He's a very good coach." Interpretation: "The sad part is we thought we had scheduled a sure win, what with that guy whatshisname coaching and his extremely poor D, but now we know we're in trouble because UM has a very good coach once again." Ouch.

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

@ tater Although they will be Jrs and Srs by then they still will only have 1 plus years of COACHING.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Air Force won't be much of a problem. All of those freshmen and sophomores who played on defense this season will be juniors and seniors by then. The triple option isn't really all that hard to defend. There is a reason it isn't being used anymore.

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Mick and 1st. Ten wins would be "HEAVEN"! But even if it's fewer than that, if the team plays better in all three aspects of the game, it would be worth a "win" unto itself. As you pointed out in your post moving from north of the century mark to middle of the road defensively would and should be attainable given the COACHING staffs background on that side of the ball. Special teams, with a experienced ST's coordinator, should also be vastly improved. Having a kicking game means so much to field position, both defensively AND offensively, that it could help get that 9th or 10th victory. But before you can win that many games you have to be still IN the game in the 4th quarter. In the six losses this past season Michigan was out of 4 of those by halftime. Changing that will be paramount to this new COACHING brain trust. Get it done. TiM Go Blue!


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Psalm 2011 To err is human; To forgive, divine. Wake up Theo! Get in line. For upon us now Is a bright new day. Follow, lead, Or get out 'the way. New coach, new staff, New hopes for many. Patience, kids; Have you any? Let's set the bar For twenty eleven. Will there be joy If we win seven? -Theo James Bentham Descartes '11 Go ahead, Kids. One of you (1st down, maybe?) is smart enough to post a potential starting defense for us in the wmu game. Post it, then let your President ponder for a while. (Good poem, 1st down. You and tulsatom are benefitting from my tutelage).


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 7:14 a.m.

Hmm, interesting, I just noticed that Hoke hired Mike Vollmar as Asooc Athletic Dir for Football. I see he was w/Alabama the last three yrs in that position, helping them in a very prosperous era for that program. Seems like a shrewd move to me considering our match up for 2012. His insight couldn't hurt I'm thinking. He has a very good resume'. He was with MSU before going to Alabama, Syracuse as well, is from Riverview, Mi. and also was an Asst Recruiting Coordinator from 88'-90' under Bo and Mo. One of the things that really impressed me about Hoke out here in San Diego was the people he hired. High level people with experienced backgrounds. To me, this says that Hoke is a man who is comfortable in his own skin allowing him to put great people around him. This is what great "Leaders" do in order to become "Legends" (see what I did there? cute right?) TiM, Go Blue!!!!

1st Down

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

Interesting... Lloyd is from Riverview (after his family moved here from Tenn. when he was a kid) is Bill McCartney......


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 6:30 a.m.

I noticed how Dr. Meuh said that he appreciated DB's patience, a trait our AD seems to have, as he showed in the Coaching Search. It gave me much angst as an impatient fan, but I was and am so glad he's our head honcho. We're in good hands with Mr. Brandon folks, make no mistake about it. I believe that time will prove this to be true, I got a feeling this is going to be a special decade in many of our sports. Of course there will be the naysayers who will opine and we all know who they are. Speaking of which, Portage and et al, I feel I have to take you to task on your forcasting of our program and how long it will take Hoke to set the ship (or in you're case the Jet) on the right path. I really believe that RR numbed some of you folks into the thinking that it takes so many years to get things going. As I've stated in previous comments, just because RR was inept at getting it going right away, doesn't mean it would be like that for a different coach. You can dismiss my sentiment if want, but I truly believe based on my football instincts that we will have a chance to be a double digit winner this yr, we do have a lot of experience coming back, but at least now i know they will be coached up way better and be in better position to make plays, unlike what we witnessed in these last 3 yrs. That's a fact not an opinion, my eyes told me so, I like my eyes.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Good job Mick. If you look at the teams that have played in the BCS title games in the last 10-13 years, most of the coaches were in their 2nd or 3rd year ... and many of them took over programs that were down. Good coaches don't need 5 years to make a difference ... there are dozens and dozens of examples of coaches turning a program around in much less time. And as we have seen, unfortunately, it doesn't take a long time for some coaches to run a program into the ground... 2-3 years is all it took.

1st Down

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Good Points Mick. Right now, Im thinking 9 wins...but as you say if things go just right, could be 10...I firmly believe that the defense will make a HUGE jump...from like 110th (or whatever ranked) to in the 50s at least....which would put us somewhere in the 23-25 pts per game ...which is still a lot by Michigan standards but a huge improvement over the past several years under RR and cronies. With many starters returning on offense and what should be a huge improvement in special teams, I definitely could see us get at least 2 more wins.. Sparty goes down, Iowa goes down... maybe Wisky, PSU or OSU too... Neb isnt that good and they have an eye opener by the time they get through the Big Ten schedule will be beaten up and ripe for the pickings too.. Go Blue.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

It is great we can have a coach we can be proud of after 3 years of lame excuses. This is the way we should schedule glad we got out of the weak stuff of the last three years we are now heading in the right direction.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

2012 is shaping up as a very tough non-conference schedule but one that should help the U-M strength of schedule if they can hold their own against these teams. Air Force seems to always have a respectable team and I hold them in high esteem athletically, academically, and for producing leaders that put their lives on the line for our freedom.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

Portage, my friend, because you are so wise, BOTH teams will win that day. (Don't underestimate the power of your President to arrange this). His name is Portage, He's one smart bloke. Gospel he writes, With each keystroke. What shall we do, Portage? They ran RR out for lack of immediate gratification, and now they have Hokemania going undefeated for the next four+ years. Each recruit "returns us to glory". It's right before their eyes, yet they fail to see it. Help them, Portage. Help them.

1st Down

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

It is all part and parcel of the master plan Theo212 get on board while you can The Hokemania Train is leavin at dawn A smile and a ticket will get you on Leave the faux crystal at home, it is only for fools What you gonna do brother... when Hokemania reigns down on you? Go Blue!


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

i sure hope hokie wins some games, would hate to see him get treated like rr which he surely will if the Ws dont come quick...

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

Well, if he as unsuccessful on the field at the WCiMFH, his welcome will be very similar. But, given his knowledge of defense, the fact he has a special teams coach, and an OC who will adjust his game plan to maximize DRob's talents, I know he will win more games. "...would hate to see him get treated like rr..." Me too. I don't think Michigan can afford to throw another $14-20 MILLION away on bad coach in the space of 6 years, with the same results. Hopefully you will be writing soon, "We love you Coach Hoke!" like you used to before the Gator Bowl. TiM Go Blue!

Jay Allen

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

So at the company YOU work, if you under perform and do not do your job, you are rewarded? I bet not. RR was and is a joke. He got more than he was worth upon his exit.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

That will be a tough game for me as I absolutely love both teams. I was born and raised in the state of Michigan and weened on the Wolverines since 1950 but I spent a career in the Air Force and had the greatest adventures of my life both in war and peace. It's a hard thing to do but I'll try and cheer them both to equally have a good game.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

Isn't that a "can't lose" situation? Either way, a team you love wins. The bittersweet part is that a team you love also loses. In the best of situations, they'll both play well and give you an exciting game to watch. Just relax and enjoy the game...

1st Down

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

lol@ Meuh's diss of the old regime... now he knows there will be no possible 'surprises' -- Hokemania is here. Good opponent, but ultimately a Michigan Win.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

Michigan may or may not win...but at least the defense will know what they are supposed to do, how to do it, and when to be on the field.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

We need to play: NAVY - 2013 ARMY - 2014


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

2012 going to be a good year for football. i like the way michigan is getting some good games to play. i rather lose to a good school than a bad one. i like everything i seen so far go blue.