Michigan to Play Irish at Night in 2011

You're eyes don't deceive you. Announced today, Michigan will host Notre Dame in the Big House on September 10, 2011...under the lights!!

Clearly, the impact of new AD David Brandon is being felt.

In case you don't remember, it was right about this time last year that we weighed in on the potential for night games at home. This is very good news Michigan fans.

How it Feels to be a Michigan Fan These Days



That. Just. Happened.

The Gods have a sense of humor.

Notre Dame, Bowls and Michigan's Spring Game

A few quick notes on this Wednesday...

• The spring game will be held at 1PM on April 17th at the Big House (Gates open at 10AM). Admission is free and open to the public. Also, the alumni flag football game, which debuted last year, will make a return for 2010 and will be held two hours prior at 11AM. [mgoblue]

• This came about a week or so ago, but the Big Ten announced it's slightly adjusted bowl lineup for New Years Day. In year's past, the Outback Bowl would begin at 11AM, Capital One at 1PM, and we had no affiliation with the Gator Bowl. But that's changed now. As of 2010, the bowl lineup for the Big Ten looks like this:

- Outback Bowl, ABC, 1PM ET
- Capital One Bowl, ESPN, 1PM ET
- Gator Bowl, ESPN2, 1:30PM ET

So not only does the Disney family of sports networks cover the Big Ten like crazy on that day (with also the Rose Bowl at 4PM on ABC), but it also makes the Big Ten compete against itself for coverage. Now I'm all for having 3, possibly 4 Big Ten bowl games in one day, but not 3 at the same time. If I were Jim Delany, I'd be a little upset that I'd have 3 marquee bowl teams all competing for a national audience with each other. [Rittenberg]

• Turns out, Notre Dame is very well indeed in the mix for addition to the Big Ten. And maybe not by choice. With all of the talk swirling around college football about the Big Ten, and now the Pac-10 possibly increasing their conference rosters, this could have a dramatic impact on every conference if it plays out the way things are looking. If the Big Ten goes to 12, 14, or even 16 teams, that will effect every conference in the country. There's no way it couldn't.

So it seems like the Irish are seeing the writing on the wall...and starting to realize that maybe joining the Big Ten, the only football conference that really makes any sense for ND, might be the best option both financially and strategically. It's clear that with the way things are going, the money from a Big Ten affiliation with their very successful Big Ten Network far exceeds the revenue from being independent and having a TV deal with NBC.

An interview with reporters in New York with ND's athletic director Jack Swarbrick yielded maybe some of the most dramatic statements ever about Notre Dame finally ending it's football independence.

“I believe we’re at a point right now where the changes could be relatively small or they could be seismic,” he said. “The landscape could look completely different. What I have to do along with Father Jenkins is try and figure out where those pieces are falling and how the landscape is changing.”

Also...

“We start that process with a clear preference,” he said. “You each could invent a scenario that would force our hand. It’s not hard to do. We just have to pay attention and stay on top of the game and talk to people. That’s what I’m spending 50 percent of my time doing right now. I’m talking to people who you’re writing about and trying to make sure I understand what they’re thinking and what’s going on.”

Clearly, without as much as even picking up the phone, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has sent a message loud and clear to the brass in South Bend. Changes are happening in college football. All this change will likely effect Notre Dame either positively or negatively. When asked about the scale of the potential changes, ND's AD said:

“I think seismic is a possibility,” he said. “I don’t know where the spectrum falls out. You have such an interesting media environment here. It’s having such an impact on people. You have two conferences who have separated themselves economically. And you have all the other conferences lined up in successive years for broadcast negotiations. That’s a tough situation for everyone in that position. The bar has been set so high, and the media market is so tepid, that it creates tension.”

He added: “I’ve been in and around this business for 29 years now. This is as unstable as I’ve seen it.”
Clearly, Notre Dame joining the Big Ten could have just as much of an impact as say, Texas. The larger benefit is that South Bend fits squarely in the middle of the Big Ten footprint. Financially, I'd have to think that both parties would reap the benefits from an affiliation. The only thing in the way up to this point is the rather large egos that reside under the golden dome in South Bend that have always felt they are above any conference for their beloved football team.
[NY Times]

Pre-Spring Bold Predictions

Inspired by a fellow co-worker who asked me to give him a no-BS prediction for how the season was going to go for Michigan this year, I've decided to write up a whole post filled with not only pre-spring game-by-game W/L predictions, but some personnel predictions as well.

Defensively:

• Demar Dorsey will see the field early in 2010, perhaps by the end of September. Where? Safety.

• JT Turner will start at CB in Donovan Warren's spot. JT Floyd at the other spot.

• Jordan Kovacs will be in the starting rotation for the spring game at safety, but will not be the starter by the end of September, Dorsey will replace him. He could however shift to the hybrid LB/S position vacated by Stevie Brown. But he'll have a tough time getting any playing-time ahead of Marvin Robinson.

• Troy Woolfolk will return to safety where he belongs.

• Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh will be drastically improved.

• Our defensive line will be rock solid with Van Bergen, Roh, Campbell and Martin. We might not miss Brandon Graham as much as people think we will.

Offensively:

• Forcier and Robinson will continue to alternate at the QB position early in the season. But by the Michigan State game, we will have explored using Denard at both RB and slot...with moderate success.

• Devin Gardner will red-shirt 2010.

• David Molk will earn all-Big Ten honors at the center position if he can remain healthy.

• Vincent Smith will return to the lineup in-time for the opener, but will still be feeling effects from his off-season ACL surgery.

Game-by-Game:

• UConn: Win
• ND: Win
• BGSU: Win
• UMass: Win
• Indiana: Win
• Sparty: Win
• Iowa: Win
• Penn State: Loss
• Illinois: Win
• Purdue: Win
• Wisconsin: Loss
• tOSU: Loss

Yes, you're eyes don't deceive you. 9-3 is my very early, pre-spring BOLD prediction for 2010. A New Year's Day Bowl is in our future!

Keep in mind though, that I have really no idea what I'm talking about. Go Blue!

2010 is the Most Important Year for Michigan Football. Ever.

Sit back Michigan fans, and relax. I'm about to take you on a wonderful journey. A journey through the mind of a Michigan blogger.

Just a quick disclaimer: This is not going to be pretty.

Rant: Start.

I'm pissed.

I'm pissed at Rich Rodriguez. I'm pissed at Lloyd Carr. I'm pissed at Greg Robinson. I'm pissed at Scott Shafer. I'm pissed at Ron English. I'm pissed at Bill Martin. I'm pissed at pretty much everyone who has taken the one thing I thought I could count on, and screwed it up so bad that I can barely tell what it is anymore.

It's not that each one of those people did anything individually. It's the collective disregard for the greater good and knowing what's best for the program and the young men that strap on the winged helmet each Saturday in the fall that depend on these people to know what they are doing.

I blame Carr for being responsible for leaving the cupboards bare when he left. I blame Carr and English for the loss to Appy State and squandering the total mass of talent we had in 07, which we only got to see in the bowl game against Florida. I blame Martin for elbowing Carr out of the program, and completely screwing up the coaching search that ensued.

I both blame and respect Rodriguez for being so devoted to his system. It was his blind devotion that chased many great players from the program in 2008. Most were apprehensive about the spread-option system. But Rodriguez didn't flinch. This may indeed pay off over time for Michigan, but the growing pains are extensive. And so far 2 years have been sacrificed in this experiment.

For as long as I care to remember, I have been a devoted fan of the Michigan Wolverines. Even when I was going to college at Bowling Green State University and our football team was kicking some MAC ass and Urban Meyer was still cool, all I cared about what John Navarre, Chris Perry and Braylon Edwards.

I can not express enough to you, dear reader and loyal Michigan follower, that if we don't restore the order in 2010, Michigan football...hell, Michigan sports, the University of Michigan...even the entire state of Michigan will suffer for least 10 more years of floundering ineptitude.

How can Michigan football's struggles effect other sports or even the state as a whole? Easy. Michigan football is the pulse of the entire population. Millions of Michiganders call themselves Michigan fans. And football is easily the biggest and most popular sport in America. When Michigan wins, people are happy. When they lose, the fans lose. Call it juvenile, call it whatever, sports transcend life. And it matters a lot, to a lot of people.

The Michigan football program is the face of the University. More people show up for football games in a season than ever step on campus or into a University of Michigan hospital. Now I'm not going to say that U of M or the U of M health system are not both worthy of high praise. We all know they are. But try as they might, Michigan football is the standard for how the University is viewed by the general public. For better or worse.

And for the past few years, it's been for the worse. Much worse. You think that it's just a coincidence that the state's economy has taken a severe beating just like the football team has? Maybe it's not completely coincidental, but I'd be willing to make a wager. Why does Mary Sue Coleman, the University's president come to a press conference thats regarding NCAA allegations about the football program? Because she knows the University's bread is buttered on Saturday afternoons in the fall.

I am telling you right here and now, if Michigan doesn't get it right in 2010 and secure it's place at the top of the Big Ten and national standings, it's going to be a very rough next 10 years. This moment, right now, is the biggest and most important time ever for the future of Michigan football.

If Michigan doesn't win at least 8 or 9 games, Rich Rodriguez will be fired. No doubt about it. He must beat Sparty, he must beat tOSU. There is no middle ground.

And as a Michigan blogger and die-hard supporter, I have my doubts that this is going to happen this year.

Over the last 3 seasons, I've been sitting in the stands, in the press box, and in my living room watching Michigan fumble away games to:
- Appalachian State
- Oregon
- Utah
- Notre Dame
- Toledo
- Northwestern
- Iowa
- Purdue (twice)
- Illinois (twice)
- Sparty (twice)
- Penn State (twice)
- Wisconsin (twice)
- tOSU (3 times)

20 losses in 3 years.

By comparison, tOSU has had only 7 losses in 3 years. And those were to Illinois, LSU, USC, Penn State, Texas, USC and Purdue. In his 9 seasons at tOSU, Jim Tressel has only lost 21 times. And 5 were in his first year.

In 2007, we were 0-2. In 2008 AND 2009, we lost 5 games in a row.

I mean, my God...what the hell has happened to Michigan football?

You can't just blame Rodriguez. He's screwed up a lot so far, but not all of the blame falls in him. Carr screwed up too. So did three defensive coordinators. And while Bill Martin has done a lot for this University from a budget and infrastructure standpoint, he's been at the helm during this whole debacle. But later this month, Martin gets to sail away into the sunset while new AD Dave Brandon and Michigan work to clean up the wreckage he's left behind.

And while we're talking about tOSU, lets not forget that it's been 2,293 days since we've beaten them. Or...6 years, 3 months and 9 days.

At this point, I don't even remember what its like to beat them. And I can pretty much guarantee that they can't remember either. I hate tOSU with the heat of a nova, and yet all I can do is be completely and utterly jealous of their program.

They have done just about everything I wanted Michigan to do over the last 6 years. They've beaten us every year, they've played a home-and-home series with Texas AND USC, they've played in 5 BCS bowl games (including 2 national championships), they've won 5 straight Big Ten championships, and have sat atop the Big Ten standings pretty much the whole time.

Soooooo...what's not to envy?

But for as much as I sit here and rant on and on about how bad we've been, there have been bright spots. And we've done our best to put a positive spin on three years of failing to live up to the high standard that Bo has established.

But when Bo died in 2006, the essence of Michigan football died with him.

2010 marks the either the bitter end for a struggling young coaching staff, or a vindication of 3 years of hardship for Michigan faithful. If we can somehow get 8 to 10 wins (against our rivals, please), then Rodriguez will be safe and all the controversy surrounding him will disappear. Michigan will stable itself and Rodriguez will have a 4th year to work his spread-option magic. But if we struggle to make a bowl and lose to Sparty or tOSU, then it will be open season on RichRod. And Michigan will be replacing it's entire coaching staff, again. We will flounder and wallow in the cellar of the Big Ten and major college football for many years to come as we search for a light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

Rant: End.