The 2014 Michigan football opener foe (that would be Appalachian State) looms out there like kid who sucker-punched you in fifth grade waiting to set your shoelaces on fire at graduation. But there are myriad get-even possibilities for future schedules.
First, let's talk about the Mountaineers. Some Michigan fans bemoan that remake like they'd decry Halo II. They foresee a summer-long buildup of ugly memories, rivals taunts and ESPN flush-, er, flashbacks.
Other say, hey, bring on the Mountaineers, but get it right this time. Put it behind us. Michigan Director of Athletics David Brandon knows one thing - that's a 2014 non-conference game (not against somebody named Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas or USC) that fans are already talking about.
"If that game wasn't of particular interest, why would people keep asking about it?" Brandon mused. "My job is to work with the coaches, and work with the available teams out there to create match-ups that are interesting and topical.
"It's fascinating to me how people want to keep talking about this game, when it doesn't even happen for a couple of years. They're already talking about it, and they're all questioning it. The networks are all fighting over it. They all want to broadcast this game.
"Fans seem to be really intrigued by it. It seems to be as topic of conversation. I get asked about it a lot. I keep thinking, that's what you want to do when you're scheduling games - make games that are interesting, and controversial."
Brandon shrugs off detractors, like he did when the Wolverines planned to play a night game in Michigan Stadium, and like he did when U-M donned alternate uniforms.
"There are people out there that love the fact that we play them again, because they want to wipe the slate clean from what happened before," Brandon said. "There are other people out there who think it's just a horrible idea, because they don't want to play them again.
"The reality is, that's a very good program, that is considering going Division I. They may be Division I by the time we play them. They'll challenge our team. It will have a lot of interest. I kind of sense we'll have all the seats filled in the stadium for that game."
Well, if there's to be a get-it-right tour, no small list of potential opponents exists, even for the winningest football program of all time. At last check, Michigan holds a .500 or worse record against 25 different programs.
Now some, you're not going to do anything about. The ship has sailed (so to speak) for Iowa Pre-Flight (1-1). The Wolverines can't do a thing about Chicago Athletic Club (0-1), and trying to get even with Chicago A.A. (0-1) is a sobering prospect.
The Wolverines could opt for a Bust The Brainiacs tour, getting even with or ahead of Cornell (6-12), Harvard (1-1) and Yale (2-2). They could slip Wesleyan (0-1) in as the second half of a doubleheader when they travel east to face Connecticut next year.
Utah (1-1) is already on future slates, and the Wolverines should try to knock the bosco out of Brigham Young (0-1) while they're out west. The Mid-American Conference roster has shrunk, much to the delight of some, wearied of MAC attacks. A couple of contests against the University of Toledo (0-1), though, might serve to wipe away the sting of
well, you know.
Michigan could encounter Arizona State (0-1) in the Big Ten-Pac-12 match-ups in years to come. It could follow up this year's clash against Air Force with a much-needed square-up contest versus Army (4-5).
After that, Brandon could get really serious. He's looking to load up with some bigger-name foes, especially if the new playoff system (as he expects) includes a significant strength-of-schedule component.
So here are some traditional bruisers and more recognizable names with whom the Wolverines have a score to settle or a stalemate to break: Auburn (1-1), Florida State (1-1), Georgia (1-1), Miama, Fla. (1-1), Mississippi State (0-1), Missouri (2-2), North Carolina (1-2), Oklahoma (0-1), South Carolina (1-1), USC (4-6), Tennessee (0-1), and Texas (0-1).
The goal ought to involve being on top in at least half of those series, by the time Brady Hoke retires in 2031. Young at heart head coach-in-waiting, Greg Mattison, can clean up the rest afterward.
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