After taking a year off from having a night game, Michigan will return to primetime at the Big House in 2013. Dave Brandon announced this today, along with the mentioning that it will NOT be in November, ruling out Nebraska and Ohio State. There would be huge risks with the weather and current Big Ten Conference rules stipulate that teams cannot have games starting in prime time in November. This means, that the night game options will be: Central Michigan (8/31), Notre Dame (9/7), Akron (9/14), Minnesota (10/5), and Indiana (10/19).
There are only three options for a Night Game, Notre Dame, Minnesota and Indiana. If I were a betting man, I would put all my money on Notre Dame. Brandon and the Notre Dame AD have decided to take a break in the rivalry in 2018 and 2019 and have it reconvene in 2020. Sadly, I will be 30 at this point, which is more depressing to think about than Michigan not getting to play Notre Dame. It’s a game I thoroughly enjoy because I hate Notre Dame so much, and watching it under the lights is even better. If Wisconsin had made it onto the home schedule, you could have guaranteed they would be the team to get the game, but I would expect a rematch with Notre Dame or on the off-chance they don’t want to repeat the game, a match up for the Little Brown Jug should suffice.
In other news, Michigan will not be breaking its contract with Connecticut, and will have to go there to play a road game against them in 2013. Initially Brandon tried to get the game moved to the new Meadowlands Stadium, where the Giants and Jets now play, but there is legislation in Connecticut that UCONN cannot play a home game away from home. Their football stadium was partially paid for and is owned by the state, and this was one of the stipulations for the state to donate to them. I was initially surprised that Michigan was going to keep the game with UCONN, seeing as they could make more money having a game at home, but Brandon said today, “That’s not Michigan, it’s a contract. We agreed to play them, we negotiated the contract, my predecessor did that and I’m not going to come in and screw up (UConn’s) schedule and then run around trying to find another game.”
Buying out the game for $2 Million is chunk change, and they would be able to make all of that back in one home game. My guess is that Brandon thought they could pack into the new Meadowlands stadium, and get more publicity and more people into the stadium. But now that they can’t, they’re stuck with Rentschler Stadium and it’s 40,000 person capacity. I think that the underlying reason for keeping the game is that Brandon wants to show Michigan will honor their contracts and that they will use this showing of good faith to get a contract for a home and home series with an SEC team potentially. That would be a night game that would bring in the big dollars for sure.
Or maybe, Brandon tried to schedule another team, but he couldn’t get anyone to play them at home except for some FCS teams, and he decided it was better not to piss off UCONN and keep the game there. This is one of those situations where we will never know the full truth of what happened, and we can only speculate. Either way two things are certain, Michigan is playing at UCONN in 2013 and they will have another night game.