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.