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 Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

Michigan AD Dave Brandon says facing Alabama on a Texas-sized stage is a terrific opportunity

By Jeff Arnold


University of Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez greets athletic director Dave Brandon before the Bowling Green game earlier this season. Melanie Maxwell I

Dave Brandon has closed plenty of business deals, but putting the Michigan football team in a prime-time showdown with Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in 2012 wasn't among the easiest.

Brandon said Friday morning on WTKA that the logistics and details of a one-time shot with the Crimson Tide made the deal complicated. But ultimately, given the exposure it provided the program was worth it.

Michigan will face Alabama on Sept. 1, 2012 in the annual Cowboys Stadium Showcase.

"I just thought it was a terrific opportunity for our team, our coaches and our fans," Brandon said. "But we got the numbers right, we worked really hard to make sure there was plentiful availability of tickets, because we wanted to get that right for our fans. We hope to think of this as a preseason bowl trip where we can bring lots of people and really make it a special Labor Day weekend."

Brandon, who also is responsible for lining up Michigan Stadium's first night game next season against Notre Dame, said he had been working on a neutral site game since early in his tenure as Michigan's athletic director.

Brandon said Friday he began having discussions with university officials and the school's boards of advisors about a "very rare, but exceptional and special basis" that would land the Wolverines in a prime-time environment. Such an opportunity, Brandon said, afforded the chance to create big match-ups in "real and very interesting venues."

He said initial possibilities included a trip to New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, an idea that never developed. Brandon said he was contacted by ESPN, which along with Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, initiated the idea of bringing Michigan to Jones' 80,000-seat football palace.

"I had an availability and an interest, and things started to bubble," Brandon said. "The next thing you know, we got it done."

In a phone interview Friday afternoon, Brandon said the deal included a number of moving part involving interests representing both schools, both conferences, two television networks and Jones himself.

The deal also included negotiating a dollar amount that made it worth surrendering a home game in exchange for traveling to Dallas to face the Crimson Tide. Brandon declined to specify what number was given to ESPN when discussions reached the point of talking money, but said he wouldn't have done the deal unless it made financial sense.

"The numbers had to work," Brandon said. "We were not going to be penalized (for giving up the home opener) and that was something that was communicated to ESPN when they called."

Brandon said the university alumni association has begun working on travel packages for fans that will be comparable to those offered for post-season bowl appearances. He said officials have already began planning out tailgating and entertainment space around the venue that will help make the fan experience as enjoyable as possible.

That information, along with ticketing plans, will be announced in the future, Brandon said.

On Thursday night, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez said the deal was welcom news to his coaches and players, saying facing Alabama was "a great opener."

Brandon said adding Alabama created interesting scheduling scenarios, especially with the Big Ten adding Nebraska next season. But he said taking Notre Dame off the 2012 slate was never an option. In 2012, the Wolverines will face the Irish, Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota and Ohio State - all on the road.

Brandon said he didn't feel it was right to back out of a deal with Notre Dame. He said he continues to work on a long-term schedule with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

"What I'm really focused on is that in that point in time that we go to a nine-game conference schedule," Brandon said. "It's going to be even more limiting in terms of who and how we schedule our non-conference games."

Brandon said the flexibility in scheduling would allow Michigan to occasionally play schools like Alabama, which are traditionally tough to sign to a home-and-home contract.

In other news:

Brandon said Friday that installation of permanent lighting at Michigan Stadium will begin Nov. 21, the day after Michigan completes its home schedule against Wisconsin. The lighting are planned to be installed in time for the Michigan hockey team's outdoor game Dec. 11 against Michigan State.

Brandon also said he continues to work diligently on improving the scoreboards inside Michigan Stadium. He said experts in that area were in town last weekend for the Michigan State game. He said school officials are looking at enhancing scoreboard technology not only inside the stadium, but inside Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena. "Part of what you have to do is you have to put in a whole new backbone in terms of the infrastructure and I'm passionately committed to making that happen."

Brandon also described what a typical football Saturday involves for him personally. He said he arrives at the stadium several hours before kickoff and has a pre-set slate of people to see and places to visit. He said those meetings take place right up until game time when he will spend typically the first quarter on the field. He normally situates himself close to the bench which gives him a feel for "what's going on with the players and it gives me up up close, personal view to how the players are reacting to different situations and to see how the coaches are coaching." Brandon said he then moves up to the luxury box area where he host a number of donors and other friends before returning to the field near the end of the game. Brandon also typically attends Rodriguez's post-game press conference.

Jeff Arnold covers sports for and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.



Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

Not a direct comment...I have a friend coming to A2 on Nov 6 who is an Alabama fan. Actually, he's more rabid than fan. Looking for a place where he can watch the Alabama game here...suggestions?


Sat, Oct 16, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

A lot of talk about Rich not being the coach for this game. By the time this game is played Nick "I will not be the Alabama coach" $$$aben will be at a new school.

Pete Warburton

Sat, Oct 16, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

Just another CEO making as much money as possible off a great brand with no concern about tradition or longevity.

3 And Out

Sat, Oct 16, 2010 : 1:31 a.m.

Bo Pellini took over a struggling Nebraska program and immediately turned it around and now they are in the National Title the same amount of time, Rich Rodriguez has turned our program in to one of the bottom feeders of the Big Ten.


Sat, Oct 16, 2010 : 12:11 a.m.

at this point townie i am all in for that. michigan needs to get back to michigan. rich rod has wore me out.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 9:15 p.m.

Well coach Harbaugh will only be in his 1st or secong year in 2012 and wont have his kind of players yet so I hope we will be competitive


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

Tater: If Michigan is really the best team in the country, they will win those games. If they lose one or two games, then they are not the best team in the country. Pretty simple. To be the best, you must play and beat the best. 12-0 against Delaware State, Eastern Michigan, Umass, and Pioneer HS means absolutely nothing. I am surprised at you for even saying this.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.

This is going to be great for the Michigan economy. Instead of 3 home games before conference play as in 2010, it will only be 2 games.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

For Alabama, this is a cupcake game. Now you know how Uconn felt when they were scheduled to open the big house. they all thought, we have a chance, we can win this game, dont count us out, Hahaha


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

Tater, You are not happy to follow in MSU's footsteps? MSU has already scheduled a home and home series against Alabama. Difference is MSU fans looked forward to it... unlike yourself... who whined about it. Oh yeah... MSU has a home and home series against west Virginia prior the two years proceding Alabama. Guess MSU isn't afraid to play real teams.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

AD Brandon, Let's schedule more non-conference heavyweight teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida..etc.,. Also, if ND is still a cupcake in the next few years, drop em altogether to save our reputation :) Ahhhh, our Big10 schedule isn't even a cupcake free one (them little cupcaking brothers from EL). GO BLUE!


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

Tater, The current BCS format needs to be eliminated because it is all about the money. I don't care about the BCS and prefer to play a cupcake free schedule playing against nothing but heavyweights in the non conference. Leave the cupcake schedule to our little brothers, MSU as their new cupcake uniforms matched the level of their cupcake opponents.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

oh no! didn't anyone tell dave brandon that alabama plays defense?!?! zero percent chance of a win.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

If you want to be the best, you've got to play the best. Even if you lose, its a big time matchup and 2 great marquee names that everyone will tune in to see. Yes, 2012 is a nasty away schedule for sure!


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Good for David Brandon to bring Michigan back from scheduling non-conference patsies. We may lose but I'd rather lose to a ranked Alabama team than to a division 2 Appalachaian State. With so many of these non-conference teams like Delaware State and Toledo, you lose if you win and you REALLY lose if you lose.....reminds me of the good old days. Let the chips fall. But let's play strong non-conference opponents during his tenure.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

Unlike Bill Martin, David Brandon understands that Michigan football team will not improve (on a yearly basis) unless it faces worthy competition, and understands that while it may be nice to fill coffers for bad home games, competition is preferable. And the fact is, with 2 of those bad home games, we lost (app state and Toledo) and other we almost lost (Mass). And Del State sure did not make us better last year. Good for Brandon. I hope he does a game in the Meadowlands--the NY, Phila and Jersey alums would go crazy!! How about UM ND in the Meadowlands? That would be special.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Good to get Alabama on the schedule but I would much rather have a home and home set up with them. Going to Dallas will be like a home game for Alabama, not exactly a neutral field.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

This will be great exposure for the program. I Can't wait for that one. My wife and I will be there cheering on the Maize 'n Blue! 2012 will be a brutal schedule for us, that's for sure. I'm sure hoping our defense will be a lot better by then.


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Great move by our new Athletic Director! I would like to think UM football will be rolling by this point! A game like this will attract recruits, and whatever we lose in home game revenue will be made up by extra exposure to the national scene, a big check from Jerry, and I would guess there is extra TV money involved. Go Blue! Go Dee Hart, whip the TIDE!


Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

Good for Michigan. College football needs a lot more of this. But they better make some improvement by then or that is going to be a long year.