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Michigan Wolverines left tackle Taylor Lewan is "fine" after limping off the field in Saturday's loss to Alabama
The Michigan Wolverines were beaten soundly by the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night in Dallas, but more damaging for the team's long-term outlook was the loss of top corner Blake Countess for the rest of the season. Here is Anthony Mammel of SB Nation's Wolverines blog, Maize n Brew, with a quick assessment of the loss of Countess:
Michigan has some depth to work with at corner but that doesn't mean that he's replaceable. He's the best cover man the Wolverines have and the sledding will only get tougher without him.
The most likely replacements for Countess are junior Courtney Avery, sophomore Ramon Taylor and true freshman Terry Richardson. The Wolverines also experimented on Saturday night with moving safeties Jarrod Wilson and Thomas Gordon into the nickelback slot.
Michigan will have a few weeks in practice to work out the kinks in the secondary rotation. Their next opponent, the Air Force Falcons, features a run-heavy option offense.
For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Detroit. For more in-depth coverage, visit Michigan Wolverines blog Maize n Brew. And for more news, notes and analysis from around NCAA football, check out SB Nation's college football hub.
Michigan's 41-14 loss to Alabama in the season-opening Cowboys Classic exposed some notable deficiencies the team must work to improve. Anthony Mammel of Maize 'N Brew has the defensive line near the top of that list:
The entire front seven looked bad, and at times the defensive line looked more impressive than the linebackers. The linebackers were supposed to be a strength on the defense but the loss of Martin and RVB has lead to an easy path to blocks on the second level for opposing lineman. The defensive line was controlled by the Alabama front and the linebackers just didn't make plays, taking poor pursuit angles and failing to shed any blocks whatsoever. Teams with big, experienced fronts will have success, and although it won't be to the same extent it will still force Michigan to move Kovacs into the box.
Mammel also noted that the pass rush did show potential to get better, however:
Jake Ryan's spin move was sweet, and big Will Campbell made a move on a stunt as well. The front created pressure on a handful of plays against the most talented line in college football, meaning teams that don't have five draft picks up front could give up a few sacks to these guys.
While Michigan's 41-14 loss at the hands of Alabama on Saturday was an anti-climactic way to premier the college football season, it's not that the hope for Wolverines fans should be thrown out the window. The bloggers at Maize N Brew are here to remind us that a loss to the No. 2 team in the nation, no matter the score, is just one loss.
Anthony Mammel writes that while disappointing for Michigan, the outcome shouldn't discourage the belief that the Wolverines will be atop the Big Ten come the end of the season.
After all is said and done this team will be right there in the thick of the conference race and be ready to redeem itself in a high-end bowl game. Expect the offense to be one of the best that the Big Ten has to offer and pray that the defensive front seven can turn things around against offensive lines that aren't totally comprised of NFL talent.
Sure, there were some problems. Denard Robinson's decision-making looked suspect at times, as he threw two picks and only connected on 11-of-26 passes. He and the Wolverine backs were swallowed up by the Crimson Tide defensive front, but that is indeed a pretty good defensive front. That's not to mention the team was without suspended running back Fitzgerald Toussaint.
As for Michigan's own defensive front seven, well, that wasn't so good either. The Wolverine defense gave up 232 rushing yards to the Crimson Tide.
The defensive line was controlled by the Alabama front and the linebackers just didn't make plays, taking poor pursuit angles and failing to shed any blocks whatsoever. Teams with big, experienced fronts will have success, and although it won't be to the same extent it will still force Michigan to move Kovacs into the box.
But again, don't expect Michigan to run into any offensive lines similar to what Nick Saban has to work with. As for the offense, don't expect Robinson to struggle that mightily through the air or on the ground again.
Alabama jumped on Michigan early with a 21-0 advantage after the first quarter. It didn't get much better for the Wolverines from there. However, Denard Robinson rushed for a six-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and Michigan saw the end zone one more time in the third quarter when Robinson connected with Devin Gardner for a 44-yard touchdown pass play.
Michigan and Alabama were about even in the passing game, but it was on the ground where the Tide dominated. Alabama recorded 231 yards compared to Michigan's feeble 68 yards rushing.
Alabama has slowed down a bit against Michigan, but the Wolverines haven't come close to threatening the Crimson Tide's lead. Michigan trails 34-14 after three quarters of action at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.
Michigan fans have reason to be worried about Denard Robinson having two close calls with injuries, one in the first half when he delivered a hit with his right shoulder to a Bama defensive back after throwing an interception, then again on a fourth down run play in the third.
Robinson seems fine, but whether it's the play calling or Bama's defensive strategy, he hasn't been his usual self. The Wolverines did, however, convert on a 44-yard pass play from Robinson to Devin Gardner at the end of the third quarter.
The Wolverines finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a short touchdown run by quarterback Denard Robinson. Up until then, Alabama was punishing Michigan in this season-opening matchup at Cowboys Stadium. The score at halftime is 31-7, with that Robinson score breaking Bama's 31-0 run.
Michigan found itself in a hole early when the Crimson Tide took a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Things slowed down a bit in the second, but Bama won that period as well, outscoring Michigan, 10-7.
It was encouraging for Michigan fans to see Robinson get in the end zone, particularly because he hasn't seemed particularly active in this game, which could be attributed to the blistering Bama defense. Also, Robinson seems fine after banging up his shoulder in the first quarter trying to tackle a Bama defensive back who picked him off.
Robinson did, however, throw a pick 6 before halftime.
Michigan is going to have to climb out of a 21-0 hole if the Wolverines want a shot at winning their season opener against the defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Alabama wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in this one, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on a nine-play, 61-yard drive that took 4:22. Then a bit later on, it was A.J. McCarron hooking up with DeAndrew White for a 51-yard score and an Eddie Lacy nine-yard touchdown run.
Denard Robinson appeared to have injured himself trying to tackle Dee Milliner, who intercepted one of his passes toward the end of the quarter. Robinson leaned in with his right shoulder (his throwing shoulder), trying to keep Milliner from taking the interception back for a touchdown. Robinson came back into the game, but that shoulder will be worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the night.
Brady Hoke is 1-and-0 against the Ohio State Buckeyes, but on Saturday night in Dallas he will encounter what may be his biggest test to date as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. That test comes in the form of Nick Saban and the defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The Wolverines will enter the game ranked No. 8 in the AP poll, and there's not many better ways to gauge how a team stacks up with the nation's elite than by taking on the title holders.
Michigan, though, will be shorthanded. Hoke announced on Friday that RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and DE Frank Clark will not travel with the team after both were arrested over the summer. Clark was a mere rotation player along the defensive line, but Toussaint was Michigan's second leading rusher in 2011, having racked up 1,128 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Game time, TV channel: 7 p.m. ET, ABC
Point spread: Alabama favored by 13.5
For news, discussion and more: For more on Wolverines football, visit Michigan blog Maize 'n' Brew, plus Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire and SB Nation Detroit. For more on Tide football, visit Alabama blog Roll Bama Roll, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:
SB Nation Detroit's writers take a stab at predicting Michigan's 2012 record.
Toussaint was suspended after being arrested for drunken driving, and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge on Tuesday. Clark was suspended for his involvement in an alleged laptop theft. Both are expected to be available for Week 2.
Toussaint led Michigan running backs and was second on the team with 1,041 yards on the ground last year.
Head coach Brady Hoke said in a release that the decision was made in the best interest of the program and the players themselves, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"The decision was not easy, but I feel it is in the best interest of this program and for these kids, and those always will be my priorities. We have choices every day, and you have to be accountable to this program, your teammates, your family and the University of Michigan. […]
"They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family."
Michigan takes on Alabama at 8 p.m. Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium.
After opening as an 11-point underdog, the No. 8-ranked Michigan Wolverines are now 14-point dogs against the No. 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the line tracker at OddShark.com showed on Wednesday. The Wolverines play the defending national champions on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on ABC) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Michigan will enter the neutral-field game with a Heisman Trophy favorite, quarterback Denard Robinson, behind center, but it could be without its starting tailback, Fitzgerald Toussaint, who has been listed as a starter but has not been cleared yet to play by head coach Brady Hoke.
Meanwhile, Alabama enters the season with 11 returning starters from last year's national championship squad, and the Tide are one of the favorites to win the national championship again this season.
The Michigan Wolverines haven't decided whether or not to play running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark in the team's season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 1, as Kyle Meinke of MLive writes. The two players are currently suspended for off-field behavior by head coach Brady Hoke.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Hoke said that he's still undecided on whether or not to keep both players suspended. They're both currently practicing with the team in anticipation of the biggest game of college football's opening weekend, but Hoke still refuses to say whether or not they'll play.
Toussaint is the bigger absence as Michigan's starting running back, but Clark is also an important player as a backup defensive end. They're both suspended for offseason arrests, but Hoke seems to be seriously considering the idea of playing one or both of them on Saturday.
For more on Michigan's football camp, stay with this StoryStream. Be sure to check out Maize n Brew for more coverage of the Wolverines, and head over to SB Nation's NCAA football hub for more college football news and analysis.
When the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines takes on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday (8 p.m. ET on ABC) fans can expect the roof on Cowboys Stadium to be closed. The news came from Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, who talked about the scenario to the media Wednesday.
No reason was given as to why the roof on the 100,000-seat stadium would be closed, but heat could be a factor, as the weather forecast is calling for a sunny, 96-degree day in Arlington. One could assume that closing the roof would give some cover to the thousands of fans that are expected to be attending the anticipated showdown.
In the past, Cowboys Stadium has been closed for cold weather or rain, but neither should be in the cards for the primetime start.
Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been listed as the starter for the season opener against Alabama despite being arrested, and subsequently suspended, for drunk driving in July. Head coach Brady Hoke maintains that he has not yet been cleared to play, according to MLive Michigan football beat writer Kyle Meinke.
Defensive end Frank Clark, who was also suspended this offseason stemming from his involvement in a dorm room laptop theft, is also listed on the depth chart, but he too has not been cleared to play, according to the official University of Michigan football Twitter account.
News of Toussaint's and Clark's possible availability comes somewhat as a surprise given the declaration by Hoke that both players had been suspended indefinitely. If indeed both players are active, the Michigan Wolverines would add two much needed weapons as they attempt to defeat the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 1.
Toussaint rushed for 1,041 yards last season, second on the team behind quarterback Denard Robinson, along with nine touchdowns.
The annual tradition that is becoming the Cowboys Classic matches two big-time college football teams to kick off the season, and when Michigan and Alabama play at mammoth Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 1 in Arlington, Texas, ESPN's College GameDay crew will be there.
The popular college football morning kickoff show starts at 9 a.m. ET on ESPNU, then moves to ESPN at 10 a.m. until noon ET. It's Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, former Wolverines receiver Desmond Howard and David Pollack, with a wild crowd behind the studio set waiting to see what mascot's head Corso will don for that week.
College GameDay enters its 26th season on ESPN and 23rd as a traveling road show. It's ratings made it the most-watched season ever for the show in 2011.
The Michigan-Alabama game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The Wolverines are currently in the middle of fall camp in preparation for the season.
Two more start times have been announced for the Michigan Wolverines' 2012 football schedule. It is now official that Michigan's game against Alabama on Sept. 1 in the 2012 Cowboys Classic will kick off at 8 p.m. ET. It's also official that Michigan's game at Ohio State on Nov. 24 will kick off at noon ET on ABC.
Start times have now been announced for six of Michigan's games in 2012. Interestingly, three of the start times are in primetime. In addition to playing Alabama at 8 p.m. ET, Michigan will take on Notre Dame on Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET and Nebraska on Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. ET. Both games are on the road.
The other three start times that have already been announced are as follows: at Purdue on Oct. 6 (4 p.m. ET), vs. Illinois on Oct. 13 (3:30 p.m. ET) and at Ohio State on Nov. 24 (12 p.m. ET).
The start times for Michigan's other six games will be announced at a later date. If no more announcements are made during the summer, then start times will be announced six or 12 days before the games.
The great Michigan marching band crisis of 2012 has come to an end. Less than a week after it came out that Michigan's band would not be traveling to the Cowboys Classic in September, the plans have changed. Thanks to a change in costs and the help of donors, the band will now be able to make the trip for the Alabama game. From AnnArbor.com:
"We just received an email from AD David Brandon saying that Athletics has now decided that, as a result of some work we have done to reduce costs and with the help of some donors, they will be taking us to Dallas for the Cowboy Classic game vs. Alabama," Boerma wrote in an email to his staff.
This is good news, because let's face it, not having your band at a game of such importance would have been absolutely embarrassing. It's embarrassing enough that it took public outrage for the issue to be solved. Then again, that was probably Dave Brandon's plan all along. The outrage led to donors stepping up to pick up the cost, and the only thing Michigan suffered in the process was some bad publicity.
I don't think it should have ever come to this, but at least the band is now set to make the trip.
There is quite a bit of anticipation surrounding the 2012 Cowboys Classic, and not just because it is the season opener for Michigan and Alabama. The fact that two of college football's most storied programs are squaring off in Cowboys Stadium should make for quite the atmosphere. Many have said it will be like a bowl game but better, but perhaps not so much for Michigan fans.
It came out on Thursday that the Michigan athletic department has decided to not bring the band to the game in Arlington. The reason? Money, of course.
The marching band was told that the Athletic Department’s decision to leave the band behind was made recently, and the determination was made that because the game is not a typical road game, it will not be treated like a bowl game.
Reports are that the band was initially told there would be room in the budget, but that was later reconsidered and overturned.
As pointed out by MGoBlog, the contract for the game includes seats reserved for the band. I have no idea why it was only now determined that there wouldn't be enough money in the budget to bring the band along, especially when you consider Michigan is making so much money off of this game.
One thing that is for certain is the backlash surrounding this news is only getting started. Michigan fans are not happy, and you can bet Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon will hear about this quite a bit if the decision isn't reconsidered.
Less than two weeks ago, Michigan started allowing people to buy tickets to the 2012 Cowboys Classic, the season-opening game against Alabama in Arlington, Texas. At the time, only people with a large number of "priority points" were able to purchase tickets, but that didn't slow down the sales one bit. By the end of last week the highest two price levels had been sold out, and now all 25,000 of the tickets in Michigan's allotment are gone.
"We have received unprecedented interest in tickets for the Cowboys Classic game with Alabama," said chief marketing officer Hunter Lochmann. "The demand is on par or greater than our athletic department has ever seen."
Michigan made tickets available to people on its season-ticket interest list and to people with one or more priority point on Monday. In around 24 hours, the final tickets were sold. The public was set to get a chance to buy tickets at the end of February, but that won't be happening now that all of the tickets are accounted for.
The sale of tickets for the Cowboys Classic shows just how much interest there is in the season-opening matchup between Michigan and Alabama. Michigan failed to sell out its 17,500-ticket allotment for the Sugar Bowl, which is a BCS game, but already the Cowboys Classic allotment is gone.
I suppose this shouldn't be a huge surprise. After all, in the eyes of many, a game played on Labor Day weekend to open the season against the defending national champions is more appealing than a bowl game on a Tuesday night against the ACC championship game's runner-up. Of course, it also helps that people have known about the trip to Texas since October 2010, whereas they only had a few weeks to plan for the trip to New Orleans.
In any case, demand to see the Michigan-Alabama game is already high, and I would imagine it will only increase as the 2012 season nears.
If there was any concern in the Michigan athletic department about losing a home football game in 2012 when the Wolverines play Alabama at Cowboys Stadium, news of the payout the school will receive should ease any fears about potential lost revenues.
According to the Detroit News, Michigan will be paid $4.7 million for participating in the “Cowboys Stadium Classic” on September 1, 2012. That is approximately the same amount that the school would draw from a game at Michigan Stadium.
The News discovered this in the contract agreement, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Strangely, details of Alabama’s payout were not seen in the contract.
Other information the News found in the contract: 25,000 tickets will be alloted to Michigan for the game. And roughly 50 suites at Cowboy Stadium will be for sale to Michigan and Alabama.
Two open dates remain on the Wolverines’ 2012 football schedule. Those will both presumably be home games, as Michigan currently only has four games scheduled at home for 2012.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon went on WTKA 1050 in Ann Arbor last Friday to talk about the Michigan-Alabama game, which was finally made official last week. Brandon talked about why Michigan decided to get involved in this neutral-site game with Alabama and he also discussed how it all came about.
"Very soon after I got the job I started having some conversations with folks internally, and some of our boards of advisors and one of my questions was: how would you feel about the University of Michigan on a very rare but exceptional and special basis playing a game at a neutral site because it affords the ability to create these big matchups, go to really interesting and exciting venues and get on the big stage?
'The feedback I got was very positive and there had been discussions long ago about the Meadowlands when they were opening up the new stadium there and some other things that had been discussed but really didn’t get deep into it. Then when ESPN contacted me and Jerry Jones had an availability of interest the whole thing started to bubble and the next thing you know we got it done."
Brandon later talked about if this game will have an effect on the rivalry with Notre Dame. Currently, Michigan is scheduled to play at Notre Dame in 2012, meaning the Wolverines' schedule not only is tough, but it only has six home games. Brandon didn't say anything definitive about the game, but he made it sound like Michigan and Notre Dame are working toward making a change to the series. A two-year break at some point in the future has been discussed, but originally it wasn't going to happen until later in the decade. Perhaps it could be moved up so Michigan has more flexibility with its schedule in 2012, allowing for an extra home game.
"It's a great opener," Rodriguez said on his weekly radio show Thursday night. "That's going to be a very exciting day.
"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."
Rodriguez is definitely right about it being the talk of the summer. Usually fans are looking forward to the start of football season in general rather than the specific game that will open the season. That was the case with UConn this past summer for Michigan fans. The excitement was for the start of football season, not to play UConn. For the Alabama game in 2012, however, it will be very exciting to not only get football season started again, but it will be just as exciting to play the Crimson Tide down in JerryWorld.
After months of rumors and speculation, the Michigan-Alabama game in Dallas to open the 2012 season has officially been announced. Here is an excerpt from the press release sent out by Michigan:
The University of Michigan football team will face the University Alabama in the 2012 College Football Kick-off Event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 1, 2012. The game will be televised nationally in prime time.
"This is a great way to kick off the 2012 season with two of the nation's winningest college football programs," said U-M director of athletics Dave Brandon. "We are excited about playing a regular-season game in the state of Texas, a region of the country where we have traditionally recruited. Our goal is to get as many Michigan fans to the game as possible to witness this match-up of traditional powers."
The Wolverines will be the away team with the Crimson Tide designated the home team. The game officials will be a crew from the Big 12 Conference. This will be the fourth time in school history that Michigan faces Alabama, and it will be the first contest played during the regular season by the two programs.
The previous three matchups between Michigan and Alabama all occurred in bowl games, with Michigan winning the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 2000 Orange Bowl. Alabama beat the Wolverines in the 1997 Outback Bowl.
Michigan's 2012 schedule is now two games away from being complete. The Wolverines have three open dates (Sept. 8, Sept. 15 and Sept. 29) for two non-conference matchups at home. Florida Atlantic was rumored as a possible opponent in 2012, but so far nothing official has come of that.
With a neutral-site game thrown into the mix, Michigan will actually only end up having a total of six home games during the 2012 season. Michigan hasn't had fewer than seven home games since 2004, when there were only 11 total games on the regular season schedule. Under Bill Martin, the attitude was to get as many home games as possible, but Dave Brandon is obviously willing to pass up a home game in order to be on a national stage down in Dallas against Alabama. Personally, I would have rather just done a home and home with 'Bama, but there's no doubt kicking off the 2012 season down in Dallas will be very cool.
Although Nick Saban proclaimed last week that Michigan and Alabama were set to play in Dallas in 2012, the game has not been officially agreed to just yet, according to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon.
"There have been a lot of discussions," Brandon said. "I've said that I am all for us occasionally playing on a big, prime-time stage and showing that we're not afraid to play anyone anywhere."
Every time something comes out about how the game is basically a done deal, someone else seemingly comes out and says nothing is official. Once again that has happened, although at this point the game appears to be all but official. All signs point to the game happening, and I'm sure Michigan and Alabama just want to announce it on their terms.
All of the previous reports of Michigan playing Alabama at Cowboy Stadium in 2012 were corroborated by a pretty credible source... Nick Saban:
It hasn't been announced officially yet, Alabama coach Nick Saban said tonight on his radio show, but he announced it anyway: Alabama will play Michigan in 2012 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The original title of the linked source on al.com is really poorly written because it makes it seem like Michigan is also playing Alabama in Atlanta in 2013 and 2014:
Tide will play Michigan in 2012 in Dallas and in Atlanta in 2013 and '14
My excitement was subdued when the article said 'Bama will actually be playing ACC opponents, which makes sense considering the annual Atlanta game is usually apart of the ACC/SEC season kickoff. Anyway, a Michigan/Alabama match up at Cowboys Stadium is going to be amazing. Unfortunately, it's almost two seasons away. I guess we can put our excitement and the impending hype, which will be a lot, in our back pockets for now.
The Wolverine recently caught up with Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, and although the content of that conversation is in a premium story, I think the headline says it all.
Brandon: Exciting news is coming
With all of this talk about future schedules and Alabama, it would be hard to believe if Brandon is talking about anything but the rumored game in 2012.
As speculated in the previous update to this StoryStream, all signs point to an announcement being made soon, so I would bet that exciting news involves Michigan and Alabama and the rumored neutral-site game in 2012. Nothing is guaranteed until the contract is finalized, of course, but it seems like it's on the path to being made official.
About a week ago, rumors about a possible matchup in 2012 between Michigan and Alabama started to surface. At that time they were still in the "I read it from a guy on a message board who heard it from some radio station" phase, meaning there wasn't a whole lot of credence behind it. Shortly thereafter, however, the rumor started picking up serious steam and appeared to be more than just a rumor when mgoblog reported that a contract signing was set for this past Monday.
As it stands right now, it is unknown if a contract is going to be signed in the immediate future, and Michigan officials have declined to say a whole lot about the rumor. Even so, it does look like things are moving in the direction of a game being scheduled, as evidenced by this report from Angelique Chengelis.
Still, another source involved in the negotiations, but not as a representative from either school, has indicated the deal is not done, but Michigan and Alabama are working on the matchup. The source said the teams want to control when the announcement is made if the game is finalized.
That last sentence is the most interesting thing to me, because it may say a lot about the "nothing is imminent" denials Michigan gave earlier this week. If this matchup does actually happen, you can bet that Michigan, Alabama, ESPN, Cowboys Stadium and whoever else is involved will want to make the announcement on their terms, not have it leak out prematurely on a blog. If that is in fact the case, then it would be similar to the announcement that happened earlier this year about the Notre Dame night game in 2011. Word of that leaked out but was met with a "nothing is close" type of response, yet days later an official announcement was made by Michigan.
Right now it appears that Michigan and Alabama are working out the final details of a deal to play in 2012, and it probably is only a matter of time until the matchup becomes official. From mgoblog:
My source re-iterates: it is happening, with all three parties set on an agreement and just waiting to announce it when everything gets dotted and crossed.
Although last-minute issues could always come up and become an obstacle for a deal getting finalized, I would bet we hear something official one way or the other pretty soon.
It's definitely possible that Michigan and Alabama could help get the 2012 college football season started with a game against each other at a neutral site, but for now it doesn't look like a deal will be happening in the immediate future. From the Mobile Press-Register:
A high-profile football game against Michigan in Dallas is being considered as a possible addition to Alabama's 2012 schedule, but a deal between the two schools is not close to being finalized at this point, a UA source said today. [...]
Deliberations have taken place, but Alabama's opponent for this proposed big-ticket 2012 non-conference game has not been finalized and may not be for some time, the source said. The same goes for the site of the game. UA is still considering Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., (two sites where it has recently played non-conference games) in addition to Dallas.
A spokesman for Michigan wouldn't get into specifics involving scheduling, but he did confirm that nothing is expected to happen in the near future.
“We are looking to fill open dates in our future schedules and have been in discussions with multiple schools,” U-M spokesman Dave Ablauf said. “Nothing is currently imminent.”
Even though both sides are saying that nothing is imminent, color me a little skeptical based on how the news broke about the Notre Dame night game in 2011. Shortly before the announcement was made, there were rumblings of a possible night game, but they were sort of shot down because things were supposedly still in the very early stages. What ended up happening is the announcement was made just days later, indicating that things were moving faster than originally thought. I'm not saying that is what will happen with the possible Michigan-Alabama game, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit.
Late last week, a rumor from Alabama emerged about the possibility of the Crimson Tide playing Michigan in 2012. Specifically, the rumor suggested that the two teams would play in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium in the first week of the 2012 season, which would be one of Michigan's biggest non-conference games in a long, long time.
The rumor itself seemed a bit iffy just because of the way Michigan's schedule is set up for 2012, but it continued gaining traction over the weekend, and now Brian of mgoblog is reporting that the contract for the game will be signed tomorrow.
Why is this game going to happen? Brian's source indicates that a "desperate" Jerry Jones "overpaid" to bring Michigan and Alabama together at Cowboys Stadium. Why is Michigan taking part in a game like this, which is unprecedented for the football program? Once again from Brian's source, it appears that Michigan will end up with more money from this event than Alabama and will be the "nominal home team." At the very least, one can conclude that Michigan will receive more money than they would for a regular home game at Michigan Stadium, because that is the only way athletic director Dave Brandon would consider playing at a neutral site instead of at the Big House.
Initially when I heard this rumor, I was very excited about the possibility of not only getting to play Alabama, but also the possibility of playing at "JerryWorld" down in Dallas. It is quite possibly the most luxurious football stadium out there, and it would be a cool experience to get to watch a game there featuring Michigan and Alabama (and getting an in-person look at the biggest scoreboard in the history of scoreboards).
As I started to read more of the comments about this rumor, my opinion changed a bit. I'm still excited for the game, but as many have suggested, it would be cooler if this was a home-and-home series that brought 'Bama to Michigan Stadium and allowed the Wolverines to play a game in Tuscaloosa. That way the two teams would get to play twice, and instead of having a game at an NFL stadium that will lack the atmosphere of a college venue, each team would get to host a game. It would provide fans of each team a chance to watch these two historic programs play in their backyard, and it would also allow them to travel to the opposing venue, which would be a very cool experience as well.
While I would prefer a home-and-home series, there's no doubt that I am already looking forward to this huge matchup, and it's still two years away assuming the contract is in fact signed tomorrow. Aside from the fact that Michigan would be doing something different with their schedule for a change, the magnitude of this game is going to be off the charts. It's not like either program needs more publicity or anything, but you can bet College Gameday would be in Dallas for this game and it would likely be the first Saturday night contest of the season. To say the least, there would be a lot of hype surrounding this game, especially if the coaches are still Nick Saban, who used to coach Michigan State, and Rich Rodriguez, who turned down the Alabama job before Saban was hired.
If this game does happen, it would certainly make you wonder about Michigan's schedule. Currently for 2012, the Wolverines are scheduled to play at Notre Dame. Nothing else has been announced yet, and Michigan's conference schedule is unknown because it needs to be redone now that Nebraska is in the Big Ten. Usually you won't see Michigan giving up a home game in a year they already play at Notre Dame, which would mean hosting only six games at the Big House in 2012. In that regard, playing a game against Alabama in Dallas doesn't make much sense.
On the flip side, Michigan and Notre Dame are currently scheduled to take a two-year hiatus from the rivalry in 2018 and 2019 to "play home-and-home series with other schools." Perhaps it's possible that the hiatus could be moved up or replicated in 2012 and 2013, because Michigan is scheduled to play a road game against UConn in 2013. By taking the two years off starting in 2012, it would allow Michigan to play seven home games, which has basically been the minimum ever since the schedule expanded to 12 games every season.
It will certainly be interesting to see how all of this plays out if the Michigan and Alabama game at Cowboys Stadium does in fact come to fruition, but all I can say is I will be booking my tickets to Dallas if it does.