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Posted on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke is used to prime time, but remains cautious of night games

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has had great success at night over the years. But that doesn't mean he likes playing under the lights. file photo

Brady Hoke is no stranger to prime time.

During his debut season as the Michigan football coach, Hoke's Wolverines took center stage under the lights for night time kickoffs twice during the regular season and again during the Sugar Bowl. He went 3-0.

In his final season at Ball State, the Cardinals kicked off after dark a total of nine times during the regular season. That year, Hoke went 9-0.

In 2012, the Wolverines already have three scheduled night games (vs. Alabama, at Notre Dame, at Nebraska) and Hoke said last week he believes Michigan will end up with four nighttime contests. He's used to it. But he still doesn't like it.

"We have a pretty good blueprint and formula of what we do to help the guys as much as anything," Hoke said last week during the Big Ten media days in Chicago. "But it's a long day.

"And it is an issue."

Hoke can understand the value in Michigan's first two prime time tilts.

The Wolverines will get the nation's undivided attention on Sept. 1 when they tangle with defending national champion Alabama at 8 p.m. (ET) from Arlington, Texas.

Two weeks later, Michigan will once again have a national game under the lights -- this time in South Bend, Ind. against rival Notre Dame.

The publicity for the school and the attention from a recruiting standpoint are mega benefits Hoke and Michigan could enjoy for years to come. However, the immediate future won't be so bright.

"It's hard on (the players)," Hoke admits. "It is an issue. These are students, you kind of look at what you (have to do) on Sunday. The issue becomes Sunday. How much do you do?"

Throughout the season, Michigan will follow a Saturday game with a practice session on Sunday that quickly recaps the previous week before moving into preparation for the next opponent.

If the Wolverines kick off at noon Saturday, they've got most of the evening and a large chunk of Sunday to recover mentally and physically before getting back to work.

If they play at night? Well, that's another story. At home last year against Notre Dame, Michigan players were looking at Sunday morning bed times of no earlier than 2 or 3 a.m. This season, the three scheduled night games are on the road -- meaning it could be even worse.

So, from the moment the final whistle sounds against Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska, Michigan will likely be behind on preparation for Air Force, Purdue and Minnesota, respectively.

"I think later in the year, maybe you do less (on Sunday)," Hoke said. "But the less you do earlier in the year helps you in October and November from a health and body standpoint.

"It's a double-edged sword."

Hoke's program remains a national brand and name, and in turn, Michigan will continue to play at night as the years go by. As of right now, the Wolverines have one noon game scheduled in 2012.

That would clearly anger the late Bo Schembechler, and it really doesn't sit well with Hoke, either.

"Do I like (night games)?" he asked. "I'd like to play at noon every Saturday.

"But my opinion really doesn't matter, as you know."

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



Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

interesting. If it's really about "protecting" the players...then why allow any games to be played at night? As far as I know, there are no NCAA rules requiring um to play night games. Or, perhaps, could it be the added cost for home games played at night (extra police, traffic, etc.)? Play your night games 'away' and let the hosting team take the costs.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

It's the M O N E Y !


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

Itchy, I've noticed that he's slimmer in all the recent photos. That's good news. He's a good guy and I'd hate to see him have health problems.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Are these recent pictures of Brady? Is he eating better now, maybe partaking in the fine dining of AA restaurants?


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

"But my opinion really doesn't matter, as you know." Boo-hoo-hoo, Brady.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

Uh, I don't think he was complaining that his opinion should matter, I think he was saying that asking him his opinion is silly because he doesn't make the schedule.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

I personally like day games for a lot of reasons, but I think that the criticism of these night games is missing the mark. In some ways, we can make believe it is about the players (though i certainly know better). If you polled the student athletes (OK, athletes), I would think a lot of them would be in favor of these night games because the atmosphere is different, the exposure is different, and it is exciting for everybody. Thank goodness for the people like Hoke who still try to have their health welfare at stake against their better wishes. And just think--night games means less time for the college players to go out, drink and drive, and get in trouble.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Primarily this is about exposure. It is not about student athletes or even the almighty dollar (directly). One brilliant thing the SEC has done is schedule night games and games after Thanksgiving. It gives schools like LSU major primetime NATIONAL exposure. It sets them up for "game of the week" on many of the evening games. Last year all eyes saw LSU beat Oregon in the opening game, and then mid-season most of the country watched them beat Bama in Tuscaloosa. People/pollsters saw those dominating performances and remembered them. It solidified LSU has the #1 team in the country in the eyes of most objective fans/sport writers/pollsters. True those wins would have had value whenever scheduled, but when there is no other relevant game on tv, everyone watches and everyone remembers. This is also valuable to west coast teams like USC who naturally play in the evening for EST fans. If I had my preference, I'd love to have most of Michigan games in the afternoon sometime in EST, but honestly the games get lost with all the other games going on, and many voters/pollsters on the West Coast don't see the team play all week. Of course with all of the exposure its important to Win most of the primetime games or at least be ultra competitive when you play as a major underdog (like in the Bama game this year).

Robert Granville

Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

This is about the players. Coach Hoke is the last line of defense for their well-being. Past him it's all about money. Good thing he's a pretty influential guy or we might see a full season of games at 3pm or later.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

It's all about the money and has very little to do with the student's welfare or their academic career at the U. College athletics is no longer an amateur sport and the sooner this is openly recognized, the better the team, the school, and the players will be. They will not longer have to operate behind a veil of hypocrisy.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

can we stop with the "these are students" business. really? I like Hoke and think he's a good guy and good coach, but please stop pretending this is about the STUDENT athlete.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

Careful'll still need to vote my comment's ok...I don't mind :-)


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

I actually like SEC's comment. I never thought about that. what do students do after the games play at noon on Saturday. I bet 80% plus are partying.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

huh? You mean the players aren't in their rooms studying on Saturday night?