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Posted on Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan AD Dave Brandon against hosting playoffs at indoor Midwest sites; backs bowl inclusion amid criticism

By Kyle Meinke

University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has heard the criticism regarding his league's plan to include the bowls in its college football playoff model. But he's not backing down.

In fact, he's taking it a step further.

Brandon has cited cold weather as a principal reason he doesn't favor on-campus semifinals. Now, he says he also won't support playing a semifinal at an indoor Midwest site such as Ford Field in Detroit or Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which would take the weather out of the equation.

"The one thing that kind of gets left out of this discussion that maybe ought to get some weight are the kids," he said Friday during WTKA's Mott Takeover. "Now, I know a lot of people don't really care about that part, but I do, and if you polled our players and said, 'If you played a really tough, successful, long regular season, the award you're going to get is to travel to Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium,' they would look at you and say, 'Huh?'

"They love going to warm weather. They love going to some of these locations they, in some cases, have never visited."


Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon believes on-site college football playoff semifinals aren't worth pursuing because Southern schools would balk at the prospect. "If you think you're going to get those Southern conferences to believe it would be really fair and fun to come play outdoors in January in the North, you're kidding yourself," he said. file photo

The Big Ten's athletic directors, as well as conference commissioner Jim Delany, announced last week in Chicago they back installing a four-team playoff to replace the BCS system.

The league has drawn some criticism, though, for its push to include the bowls -- specifically the Rose Bowl -- in the playoff structure.

Big Ten member schools are located thousands of miles from bowl sites such as Padadena, Calif.; Miami Gardens, Fla.; Glendale, Ariz.; and New Orleans. That is a perceived disadvantage, when the Big Ten takes on SEC and Pac-12 teams that are located much closer to those locales.

Why not push for on-campus semifinals, which would force those teams above the Mason-Dixon Line? Or at least neutral-site games, which could be played closer to home and offer a relief on travel constraints?

"My sense is that it really was kind of determined pretty early on that that just wasn't salable -- that you were going to have all kinds of arguments to define who the champion is, and you start to create a home-field advantage, that's an issue," Brandon said.

"I also believe that we came to the conclusion that if we were to take these games, these three games, and push them outside the bowl system, we could very easily start to diminish the prestige and the value of the bowls."

Brandon also said on-site semifinals aren't worth pursuing because Southern schools would balk at the prospects of playing outdoor games in the Midwest anyway.

The Big Ten will present its model when the league commissioners meet next month.

"What everybody needs to understand is to get any change enacted, you have to get a consensus," he said. "If you think you're going to get those Southern conferences to believe it would be really fair and fun to come play outdoors in January in the North, you're kidding yourself."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Duncan Moore

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.

I certainly see the incentive of playing in a warm climate in January for a successful season. However, if you do happen to play for a national championship, is it really fair to play USC in their back yard at The Rose Bowl? Are you telling me these kids would not be stoked to play at a cold midwest site like Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium, with a national championship on the line!!? Isn't that what we really play the game for is a championship? Let Alabama, USC, Florida, Texas, etc. come north and adapt to our weather for a change! Let them play in our backyard for a change!


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Enough already! I didn't like the BCS setup. This 4-team "playoff" doesn't sound much better to me. The usual teams will get in and others will get the shaft. And the Big 10 teams will have to change their "standards" of conduct to match the way the SEC goes about its business to reach that level of play. In my dreams I actually thought a 16 team playoff would be cool but came to realize logistically and in all practical terms it would be like playing an NFL season. Too much. I almost can't believe I'm saying this but we should pretty much go back to the way it was. The Legends/Leaders champ plays the Pac 12 in the Rose Bowl. Other teams (except the military academies) must have a winning record to go to a bowl game. And play every game against a high profile opponent. Sorry EMU, CMU and WMU. With ticket prices as high as they are playing lower level teams is like going to a Lions exhibition game. Boring and a rip-off and you're expected to win (CMU/Toledo). Let the SEC champ play the Big Whatever it is champ in the Jerry Jones Bowl every year--who cares? I've come to the realization that the original idea of the bowl games wasn't so dull after all. It's a reward for the ahem student athletes and fans--to play one more game in a nice climate against a somewhat familiar opponent. Screw the uneven playing field so called national championship game. The whole college football deal has become such a huge money grab that it's destined to implode under its own weight one of these years anyway.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Dave Brandon is a corporate hack who cares nothing about the fans. He constantly cheapens the university's athletics and makes decisions that are nonstop frustrations to fans.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:24 a.m.

You whiners need to look at the big picture for the future of the conference. This post explains it pretty goo.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

Brandon is spot on about one thing for sure; the southern boys are afraid to play Michigan outdoors in January in the big house. They claim dominance but only by their sissy boy warm home fields. Look at the Packers outside during the playoffs. Nobody wants to go there. The weather separates the men from boys. They are just a little bit tougher up north! GO BLUE!!!!!

greg, too

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

The bowls have paid him and Michigan and the rest of the little ten a lot of money to fly around the country and get slaughtered by superior teams from the SEC and Pac 115,000 (or whatever it is now). Why would they want to change that?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

The weather is the lamest excuse I've heard. Then why is Michigan playing 'Bama indoors in Texas this fall? Then why is the B1G Championship game played indoors in a cold weather site? Move it to Fla. If anything, when B1G teams go out west to play in the bowl game and lose, they blame that loss on the 'time change' , travel or Disney as the distraction from their normal routine. I'm starting to believe less and less in Brandon as time goes on.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

Actually, it is the sunburn that causes those losses.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.



Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

I guess we should relocate the B1G Championship game then.

Blue Marker

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

"Brandon also said on-site semifinals aren't worth pursuing because Southern schools would balk at the prospects of playing outdoor games in the Midwest anyway." The B1G schools have been playing Florida schools in Florida and California teams in California for years. Now Brandon is worried about they won't want to come here? Too bad! Look at Div II teams and how playoffs are handled. Higher seed gets the home field, simply as easy. Make Texas go to Madison, let UF play a game in Columbus, let USC come to Ann Arbor in January. It's the fair way to do it. These B1G AD's are talking out of both sides of their mouths. First they say "we don't want to go to cold weather bowls or playoffs but then say they want to play in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York." They say fans won't want to sit out in the cold but then host outdoor hockey games that pack the place. They all lie because they can't say what they really mean....."We want as much money as we can cram down our greedy throats". This is going to be just as bad and create just as much controversy as the BCS. What a mess!

Scott Laux

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Why no just hand the trophy over-every year to an SEC team or USC? Brandon always justifies his decisions by pulling some rationale out of a hat. Let's try the "sympathy for the kids" card. The only thing I don't understand is- what's in in for Brandon? It always comes down to the bottom line ($). What's the angle?

Rob Pollard

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Let me get out my tote board. (Check). Yep, DB has now annoyed/insulted me, a Michigan fan, for the 48th time! Two more and we get a gold star! He's always so condescending - "Now, I know a lot of people don't really care about that part, but I do..." Oh, THANK YOU, Mr. Brandon. Always looking out for the student athlete. We all would put them in the fields and have them work hard labor, but you, David Brandon, are doing it all for the kids. I can't wait until this new system flops (huh - who would have guessed fans can't afford to travel to Pasadena AND Phoenix in the same year, two weeks apart?) and they finally have to go to home sites for the semifinals. Unfortunately, knowing college football, that won't arrive until 2024 as minor "adjustments" are made to try and fix it ("hey, TV ratings are great! Who cares if there are 10,000 empty seats?") And BTW - "the prestige and the value of the bowls?" You mean the group of "nonprofits" that pays their commissioners six-figure salaries for do-nothing jobs while diverting money to junkets (and occasionally strip clubs & illegal political donations), while forcing schools to buy thousands of unwanted tickets, running up multi-hundred thousand dollar losses for the schools? You mean those prestigious bowls?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Somehow playing in "unfun" places like Detroit or Indianapolis don't affect either the fan participation or the excitement of the "student athletes" who play basketball. This is just a kowtow to the $ of the bowls. It is ridiculous to think that if Michigan was playing in a national semifinal in Biloxi, Mississippi or Akron, Ohio, or St. Louis, Missouri that the rabid faithful and the players would not be thrilled and clammer for tickets. I've got tickets to go to the UM vs. Alabama game in September and the game being held in Dallas had NO added valuation as to whether I would make the trip. I would have gone to Grand Forks!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2 p.m.

This has always been a fight between the BCS and the big 4 bowl commissioners, and the big 10 has always been on the side of the bowl commissioners. When the BCS formed, the Rose Bowl refused inclusion, and the B1G stood by them. It took some time before they realized they were on the outside looking in. While I respect what Brandon is trying to do, the reality is that the BCS is now more powerful than the bowls, and it is only a matter of time before they get swallowed. So from now on, if the B1G Champion is ranked 1-4, it will be the loser of the B1G Championship game that will get the Rose Bowl berth.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Kudos to Dave Brandon for pointing out the wear and tear factor of those teams playing the 14th and 15th game. At least at Michigan, the emphasis is on the student athlete. The 4 team playoff system won't really resolve the issue as to who is number one. Might as well keep the mythical champion. Another concern I have is that there is already too much exposure with all of the bowl games. Having the championship game well after Jan 1st will numb the viewers.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

It is not about where the game will be played but adding the addional games. To that point; there is a limit and it has been reached. If it were me, have the 13th game as a bowl game and have a mythical champion or just keep the already flawed BCS. Don't like the conference championship game, either.

Rob Pollard

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

What are you talking about? If the game was in the Midwest, there would be less "wear and tear" - he's blathering on about vacations for athletes in sunny locations. . Also, if these guys cared about "wear and tear" they wouldn't have added a 12th game every year, plus a league championship game. Hmmm..why were those added? Oh year, money.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

So, Brandon didn't have the money to send the band to Dallas for the season opener until the alumni paid the ransom, but we really, really, really, have to play in sunny California. Sounds like a nice vacation for someone on the University's dime.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

We should definitely play outside, it's about LSU or Alabama has to play in less than favorable weather (read 35deg and rainy). I would love to see it.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

This is a bunch of bologna. Mr Brandon, please stop acting as a puppet for for the B1G comish.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

"'If you played a really tough, successful, long regular season, the award you're going to get is to travel to Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium,' they would look at you and say, 'Huh?'" If your reward is to get to play in front of a very pro-Michigan crowd in the semifinal of a college football playoff with the reward being a trip to the national championship game, I know my reaction wouldn't be "Huh?" Apparently, according to Mr. Brandon, a trip to Disney World is more rewarding than home field advantage with the potential to play for a national title. "I also believe that we came to the conclusion that if we were to take these games, these three games, and push them outside the bowl system, we could very easily start to diminish the prestige and the value of the bowls." Yeah, because we really wouldn't want to diminish the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the Bowl, or the Little Caesar's Bowl. Uh, Dave? The prestige and value of the bowls went out the window a LONG time ago when every city in America decided they needed to have a bowl game.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

I agree...the logic doesn't work. What's the reward for the PAC 12 & SEC players then? I don't hear them complaining about having to play at "home".


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Finally, the truth has been spoken! This confirms why the Big10 chose the play their bowl game (Rose Bowl) in CA and their newly formed Championship game in a dome. Can we now stop with the fallacy (and excuses) that the Big 10 plays in the cold and that's why they can't beat non-big10 teams? The Big10 has clearly stated it simply doesn't want to play in it's back in the cold.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

you're right, in that the season is usually over with before the real cold sets in. However, i'd like to see anyone from the South sit in a stadium with rain/snow mix pouring down when the weather is in the high 30's/ low 40's.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

@ Rob. To be honest, I'd be for this and I honestly believe most people would be. I'd love to see playoff games played on home fields like the NFL. My only issue is when people say that Big 10 teams play in the cold and snow. Big 10 teams may reside in cold/snowy places, but typically, their season ends before the weather changes to that. Furthermore, Big10 teams have never played bowl games in those conditions. for example, going back the last 4 seasons (not including bowl games): - Michigan played a total of 3 games below 40F and lost all 3, including the only game on a day it snowed. - Michigan has played in only 6 games with temps below 45F and lost 4 of them. - Michigan has played a total of 21 games in temps below 60F and lost 16 of them! - Michigan has played a total of 27 games in temps above 60F and lost only 7. You guys actually play better in warm weather (based on only 4 years worth of data)! Maybe you should join the SEC :-)

Rob Pollard

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

No, David Brandon (and his fellow idiot athletic directors) have. If "the Big 10" listened to its fans, there would be a semifinal game at Soldier Field, Lambeau Field or some other outside location. You don't think hordes of people from WI, UM, MSU, etc wouldn't drive over and love taking on USC in the elements on New Year's Day?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:14 a.m.

Since when has big time college athletics really given a hoot about the "student" athlete? It is all just a huge money grab.