ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez might get his wish after all.
The former Michigan coach, now at Arizona, had joked with his new boss, Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne, that he should try to get the Wolverines on the schedule in the future.
Thanks to the Big Ten’s new partnership agreement with the Pac-12 in football starting in 2017, that could happen.
The agreement will also encourage the league’s other sports to schedule more inter-conference games against Pac-12 schools, which could be interesting for the Michigan men’s basketball team as it continues to improve.
However, this deal was done with football in mind and the Wolverines are one of the league’s most marketable properties.
While no schedules have been set and 2017 is a long way off in the football landscape -- who knows if Rodriguez or Michigan coach Brady Hoke or any of the other coaches involved will still be at their schools by the time the deal starts -- it creates an interesting dynamic.
If the Big Ten treats this like it does the Big Ten/ACC basketball challenge, the Wolverines will almost certainly draw a marquee matchup almost every season. So does that mean more USC, Oregon, UCLA and Washington -- four of the more high-profile names in the Pac 12 -- for Michigan?
It very well could.
The other question, at least in the short term for Michigan, is what to do with Notre Dame. If the Big Ten stays its course with going to a nine-game schedule, the series with the Irish would either likely come off the table or the Wolverines would routinely play one of the toughest schedules in the country.
A Notre Dame spokeman told ESPN.com in an email yesterday that the deal between the schools is a “four-year rolling agreement that automatically renews unless someone suggests a change -- there’s been no suggestion to us that the series will not continue.”
The nine-game schedule would also tinker with Michigan athletic director David Brandon’s stated philosophy of trying to get as many non-conference games at home. If the league stayed at nine games plus a rotating home-and-away series with Notre Dame and the Big Ten/Pac-12 partnership -- that’d leave only one guaranteed non-conference home games per season.
If the Big Ten decides to scrap the nine-game schedule and stick with the current eight-game format, the Wolverines could keep Notre Dame on the schedule, play a Pac-12 team and have two guaranteed home games in the non-conference schedule and at least six home games per season.
A email seeking comment from Brandon was not immediately responded to.
What it does do is strengthen Michigan’s schedule no matter what. It’ll also raise the league’s profile and give the Wolverines another high-quality game to market, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.