Monday, July 13, 2009

Wanted: 2010 opponent

As you may or may not know, Michigan is in the midst of a massive stadium renovation. The primary reason -- as is the case with pretty much all stadium renovations -- is money, as the addition of luxury boxes will bring in all the big corporate spenders and help add to the athletic department's already-ridiculous income.

But one upside to the renovations is the opportunity to add some features that have been desperately needed, including my personal favorite: a classic brick exterior that not only ties the stadium's architecture to that of the surrounding campus, but also covers the metal framing that was terribly bland and for some reason had always been left exposed.

The first picture below is a rendering of the stadium last fall, while the second rendering is the finished product (which should be completed prior to the 2010 season).

It's been known for some time that UM has been seeking a quality opponent for the 2010 opener in the completed stadium -- the usual mid-major/Notre Dame/MAC/MAC nonconference slate doesn't really get people excited -- but that opponent has been difficult to find.

Michigan originally sought out Minnesota (a team UM doesn't face in conference play), which would have been interesting just because of the Little Brown Jug and the Big Ten rivalry and all that. A good idea, but the Gophers declined (they do already play USC that year, so I can't really blame them).

Michigan's student newspaper, The Michigan Daily, then reported that UM was discussing a possible home-and-home series with Georgia in 2010-11. I'm not sure exactly what the source was on this, but it seemed highly unlikely from the start: Georgia already faces both Georgia Tech and Colorado on the road and has only five total home games in 2010, and the 2011 schedule is completely full. And when Michigan officials said that there was "no truth" to the rumor, well ...

That brings us to Boise State. The Broncos were identified as a potential opponent early in the process by Mgoblog, and that would make sense -- they have an open date and they've made it clear that they're willing to travel in return for a decent paycheck. There'd been nothing official from anybody, though, until this intriguing quote from Boise State President Bob Kustra about a deal the Broncos have reached to fill the final spot on their 2010 schedule:
"It's going to be a good one," said BSU president Bob Kustra, who would not disclose the opponent or the game location.
There aren't a whole lot of "good" teams still looking to complete their schedules, and Bronco Nation basically narrows the list of likely opponents to Michigan and Oklahoma State. It sounds like an official announcement is coming next week, so we'll know something soon one way or another, but I'm somewhat lukewarm on this one.

Yes, I know Boise State has one of the highest winning percentages in the country over the past decade, but they still rarely start the season in the top 15. The payoff for a Michigan win would be relative low, while a loss would cause the irritating "Michigan can't even beat mid-majors" meme to continue indefinitely.

That being said, I would MUCH rather play Boise State than a MAC team or another Delaware State-type filler (heck, I'd even sign up for a home-and-home just to find out if I can watch an entire game on blue turf without having a seizure). Compared with Georgia or even Minnesota, Boise State isn't all that exciting, but from the list of available teams that would be interested in a visit to Michigan Stadium, the Smurfs are about as good as it gets.

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