Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez on facing Alabama in 2012: It's a great opener
As big as the Michigan football team's season-opener traditionally is, Rich Rodriguez knows 2012 will draw even more interest.
The Wolverines will face Alabama on Sept. 1, 2012, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in a deal announced Thursday. The game will be the fourth meeting between the Wolverines and Crimson Tide. The previous three meetings came in bowl games with Michigan winning a overtime thriller over the Crimson Tide in the 2000 Orange Bowl.
"It's a great opener," Rodriguez said on his weekly radio show Thursday night. "That's going to be a very exciting day.
Rodriguez said he expects that the deal would allow a 50-50 split in tickets between Michigan and Alabama fans. The Crimson Tide will be considered the home team for the prime-time game, which will be nationally televised by either CBS or ESPN.
It's a game between two traditional college football powers that Rodriguez said should generate a lot of excitement. Not only with fans, but with his players as well. The game will be part of the annual Cowboys Stadium Classic which will feature LSU and Oregon next season.
"It's going to be two great programs, that will be the whole talk the whole summer," Rodriguez said. "I know our players, the underclassmen, are very excited about it."
Last month, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the matchup was the kind of big-stage games that he would occasionally like to see the Wolverines play. He said it showed that the Wolverines are not afraid to go play "anybody at any time."
The season opener against the Crimson Tide will only be the start of a tough slate for the Wolverines. The two following weeks are currently open, but Michigan will then travel to Notre Dame and then at Purdue. The Wolverines also face Big Ten newcomer Nebraska on the road as well as Minnesota and rival Ohio State away from the confines of Michigan Stadium.
Regardless, Rodriguez and his fellow coaches are looking forward to the Texas showdown with Alabama.
Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said on Rodriguez's radio show said the game could also help with recruiting. Jackson, the longest-tenured member of the Michigan coaching staff, is responsible for recruiting Texas - an area that Michigan coaches have traditionally hit hard in the past.
"It's great when you can put your program down in the South," Jackson said. "I think that shows people what your program is all about."