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Posted on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan planning special tribute during Air Force game, wants to play another service academy

By Kyle Meinke


The Navy football team hasn't played at Michigan Stadium since 1981. Both athletic director Dave Brandon and coach Brady Hoke would like to see the Midshipmen return.

Associated Press file photo

LANSING -- Brady Hoke's fondness for the armed forces has been well documented recently, after he sent 22 of his seniors to train with the U.S. Navy SEALs last month.

Turns out, the Michigan football coach wouldn't mind engaging Navy on the football field, as well.

Athletic director Dave Brandon, who does most of the Wolverines' football scheduling, said he has tried to book both Navy and Army for football games.

"We would love to schedule Navy, but that’s been hard to pull off," Brandon said Monday after speaking at the Wolverine Caucus in Lansing. "They schedule way in advance, and their department is restricted because their non-conference, they’ve got a lot of alliances (to honor). We’d love to play Army, too, but it’s a similar problem.

"We’d like to do more with the service academies, though. Brady would, too. With Brady, if the Navy SEALs had a team, he’d want to play them too."

Michigan has played Navy 18 times, and leads the series 12-5-1, but the teams haven't met since 1981. It has been even longer since the Wolverines faced Army, which last happened in 1962.

The Black Knights -- who will travel to Washtenaw County for an Oct. 20 game at Eastern Michigan -- actually lead the all-time series against Michigan, 5-4. They are one of only four teams with a winning record against the Wolverines (minimum two games), joining Cornell (12-6), North Carolina (2-1) and USC (6-4).

Brandon said he, as well as Hoke, have an active interest in scheduling more service academy games. He will continue to work with Navy and Army, but a game likely won't come together for at least a few years -- if at all.

But it still has that date against Air Force in next year's home opener.

Michigan has faced the Falcons only once, beating them 24-7 in the 1964 season opener. They renew that series Sept. 8, and Brandon said he has a special tribute planned for the U.S. Air Force.

"We’re trying to be more thematic and more creative with that game," he said. "What we want to do is create an experience at the game. It’s not just a game -- the game is great -- but over and above the game, what can we do? What can we do pregame, what can we do at halftime, what can we do after the game, what can we do as part of this gathering of 112,000 people to make it really special?

"So, Air Force lends itself to some really unique things. We’re going to salute the military, we’re going to celebrate the Air Force, we’re going to try to do some things that will be really fun for our fans, and different, and unique.

"And if I tell everybody what it is, it won’t be special."

Pac-12 matchup almost finalized

Brandon said he still has nothing to announce regarding a potential matchup against a Pac-12 school, although hinted an agreement is close.

"I can’t announce it until there’s ink on the contract," he said. "Now, I can put my ink on the contract, but I have to wait for somebody else to put ink on a contract. I would say we’re days away ... but I’m at the mercy of other people here."


Appalachian State's T.J. Courman high-fives fans in the Michigan Stadium tunnel after the Mountaineers stunned Michigan in 2007. file photo

Scheduling is partly 'entertainment business'

Brandon said when it comes to scheduling, he and Hoke have agreed to play tough competition. Neither is scared to face the best, and Michigan will continue to add teams that fit that mold.

But Brandon also said there's an "entertainment" value he considers when completing a schedule.

"I’m constantly looking at, 'How do you we put a matchup together that our ticket buyers feel like they are getting value in their packages -- that’s going to create buzz and excitement, that the networks are excited?" Brandon said.

"On some level, we’re in the entertainment business."

Brandon noted the 2014 opener against Appalachian State as an example. Some have criticized him for scheduling that game, after the FCS-member Mountaineers beat then-No. 5 Michigan in the 2007 season opener.

It was the first time an FCS team had ever beaten a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

But Brandon scheduled the game anyway, knowing it would conjure bad memories for the Wolverines. Why?

Because there's an entertainment value to it.

“I can tell you, the networks are fighting over that game,” he said.

No change in UConn venue ... yet

Michigan is set to open the 2013 season at Connecticut, a return game after the Huskies visited Ann Arbor for the 2010 season opener.

Problem is, Rentschler Field's capacity is about 40,000 -- roughly one third of what Michigan draws on a weekly basis.

There has been some talk Michigan would push for the game to be moved to larger venue, perhaps Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

Asked if there were any developments on that front, Brandon said only, "We're working on that. Working hard on that."

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


Scott Laux

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:38 a.m.

Nice story. I like playing the service academies. I'm also glad Brandon scheduled Appalachia State. They deserve another game and there is no way Hoke will allow Michigan to go in unprepared like Carr did. Can't stand the PAC12 match ups. To many time zones to cross and jet lag. Hopefully the Rose Bowl will go away as a goal for the winner of the Big Ten. I'd much rather see Michigan play an SEC team or USC on a neutral field.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Thanks for the stats SEC. I might pay to watch that game at least once both these schools get back to peak performance which I think both schools are well on their way to doing just that.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Last time USC played Michigan in the regular season was 1958 in Ann Arbor. Only other regular season meeting was in 1957 at USC.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

I'd like to see USC come to Michigan. When was the last time Mich played USC in Mich stadium?


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

Seems like I spent a lifetime in the Air Force. It was a good career and one I'm proud of. I will root for both teams to have a good game. I will root for Air Force out of loyalty but the Michigan Wolverines are my all time favorite college football team. Either way I'm a winner in this game.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Go Army - Beat Michigan Go Navy - Beat Michigan Yes, I can hear the chants now in the Big House. Michigan out weighs, out recruits and out practices both teams. The chance of a Navy or Army victory in the Big House - almost (but not quite) zero. Army and Navy turn out professional officers for the best military in the world. Every player has to take the same classes from the same professors as any other student. The only difference between a football player at Army and any other cadet is they have less free time (normally measured in seconds per week) than the other students.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Bring the Naval Academy back. Michigan played them in the 1970s, not sure if there had been another match up since then. Then there's Army. All of this is far better than rematches against App State and UMass. As for entertainment value; lots of smoke and mirrors. ALL of the games are entertaining in some way shape or form.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I absolutely love the fact of not only playing atmed forces teams, but honoring them as well. As far as App State, I feel like that's a memory most people won't want to relive. We will get a lot of heat thrown at us from that game, and I still believe that a team like Michigan should not be playing a team in that divison. Yes, they are a good team for there divison, but I do not think it's a good choice. Lastly, Another Away home opener soon? Change can be good, but I always thought it was somewhat of a tradition to open at home. Plus I don't understand, Alabama will be the first time in a long time I can remember that we open up with the national champs. And now we are going to Connecticut? I don't know, that's just my opinion.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

That's funny TOM! Coming from guy who roots for a program that brought The Jersey Shore's The Situation in last season for an appearance at one of their football games makes it that much funnier.....


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

More gimmicks than Barnum and Bailey! Why doesn't Hoke take a HC position at one of the academies if he is so gung ho? Doubt that they'd want him unless he dropped about a hundred.... Where's the threat?


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

I'll take your avoiding the subject means my point was made. Good.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

"The Situation" is as follows: MSU will CRUSH Michigan on October 20th! That will be 5 in a row. There is no threat!


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

It's a good thing the air craft carrier game wasn't a gimmick, nor the bronze uniforms. And am I wrong when I recall MSU AD Hollis failing to excite the MSU fanbase by tweeting about Jersey Shore's Mike "The Situation" attending a football game last year?


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

you have a way of taking a good and positive story and twisting it negative and ugly (I GUESS THAT'S YOUR GIMMICK)! these type's of games would be a great way to help SUPPORT are men and women in uniform. . . you know the people that defend your right to post your CRAP on a schools blog that you don't support!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

It's really okay with everybody if you want to just keep repeating what MSU's coach asked in a press conference... We'll all see once the season starts, but for most of us here I think we can pretty easily answer that question. As a side note, do you know that whole routine of a child caught doing something they shouldn't be suddenly denying they were doing it, repeating "I didn't do that, it wasn't me" over and over again? Well, it only makes them look more guilty, right? What are you repeatedly posting on this website over and over again? How does it make you look?


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

I love the scheduling of Appalachian State. I hope it'll be the last FCS team we schedule, but considering what happened in 2007, I think getting a monkey off of the Michigan back is justified, and fans and non-fans alike will watch it. I also love seeing the program become more patriotic by scheduling academy teams and honoring the armed forces during the game. I was proud to see the American flag patch on the uniforms late season last year. I would love it if that became a permanent fixture to the uniform. Keep at it, Mr. Brandon. Keep shaking the old out of this fanbase and continue to renew this team and Michigan tradition. Go Blue!


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

I see no reason that we should lose to them again. It is understandable to me why we lost to them in 2007. I never thought that team played up to it's potential every game. I don't see that debacle happening again under coach Hoke.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I disagree. Yes, the 2007 loss will never be forgotten, but never facing them again would be running from the problem in my book. I like Michigan putting them back on the schedule. The last time we played them, we lost. I'm hoping we can't say that after the next meeting.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Rude, we'll never get that 2007 monkey off our backs because it's in the books forever. All we can do is grin and bare it and for gods sake, win the next match up with them.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

On this type of change, we can all agree with Brandon (change of scheduling service academy, giving tributes, etc). Re: entertainment value: I look at the collegiate sports world as the best "entertainment" of my year, especially football though lately, softball also (and longtime bball and hockey). But the point of colleges is to challenge the mind, the body, the individual and we should keep that in mind also. You don't get an advanced degree by taking home ec and bowling. You get it by tackling the tough courses. That does not mean that every course has to be 400 level or graduate level, but you want to strive to maximize the challenges in order to grow. I hope that Brandon and Hoke take that approach, rather than the "maximize my dollar for a sure victory" approach--which will bite them as App State and Toledo have shown.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

You realize who they are playing in the season opener, don't you, foresaking a home game worth $5.5 Million? I think they are doing exactly what you and I are hoping they do.