ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As schools in the FBS barrel toward a four-team playoff, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon realizes there isn’t much he can do to stop it.
What he can do, though, is make suggestions to how a potential four-team field is put together. If Brandon has his say, he would like to see the schedule a team plays be a factor in picking the teams competing for a national title.
“I’ve tried to be a loud voice on the notion that strength of schedule should be weighed more heavily in how we ever end up who these top four teams are,” Brandon said Friday on WTKA-AM as part of the Mott Takeover event. “I think you have a lot of programs that will start scheduling high schools in September thinking people will forget who they played in September by the time they get to the end of the poll season.
“You punish teams that play tough opponents in that non-conference season, that’s just wrong. So I really think there should be a strength of schedule component that is more significant than it is today to make sure we don’t devalue the regular season competition.”
Brandon looked at Michigan’s own schedule, which will have 10 Big Ten, Pac-12 opponents or Notre Dame on it starting potentially in 2017, and said it is an example of the difficulty of schedule the Wolverines will face on a yearly basis.
That set schedule, which combines the Notre Dame rivalry, conference games and a collaboration with the Pac-12 for a yearly game, leaves Michigan with two games to fill each season.
Knowing this, he is planning on searching for balance in future scheduling.
“We’re going to do our best to give our fans a great mix of opponents and football to see at Michigan Stadium,” Brandon said. “When they buy that ticket book, they are going to be excited about going to those games.”
Brandon said when possible, the school tries to play other non-conference games against teams within the state, but it isn’t always possible to work out.
Brandon’s other concerns issues with a playoff
The Michigan athletic director said pushing for home games as part of the playoff process “wasn’t salable” due to the probably of significant home field advantage and the need for consensus to bring about change.
He said he also understands the perils of adding another game away from home due to travel concerns for fans.
“it’s a problem and it is one of the ways when you shift from the status quo and go to the 15th game, for those two teams, you’re creating the punishment of a 15th game,” Brandon said. “Ask Brady [Hoke] how many players wouldn’t have been able to play in another game after the Sugar Bowl. So you’re going to take the physical punishment of the kids, extend the season and put pressure on their academics, you’re going to put tremendous pressure on their families and fans to travel.
“Everybody wants this extra game and this championship game. There are unintended consequences of any changes and you just outlined them.”
Brady Hoke on rivals
During the hour-long interview with Brandon and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke on the Takeover, the second-year Wolverines football coach was asked about certain parts of his team’s main Big Ten rivalries.
He was asked about the shift in the offense at Ohio State stemming from the hiring of Urban Meyer and didn’t seem to think it would be anything Michigan hadn’t seen before.
“For the most part, the spread and different people run it different ways and different combination of plays and run with it,” Hoke said. “But I don’t think there’s anything that’s breaking new ground right now. It really comes down to how much you run the quarterback, how much you want to open it up and stretch with the seams and some zones in the run and pass game and how much you want to have a guy in the backfield besides the quarterback run the football.”
Similarly, he was asked about a comment from Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio when he told ESPN.com “We’ve beat Michigan the last four years. So where’s the threat?”
Hoke, in some ways, agreed with Dantonio.
“They beat Michigan the past four years,” Hoke said. “And we need to do something about it. That’s what it’s all about. We haven’t done our job.”
Brandon said he believes the expansion and almost complete overhaul of the Crisler Center is on schedule and expects it will be completely finished before the 2012-13 season begins in November.
Michigan’s other major project, the renovation of Schembechler Hall, is in the final preparation stages of being presented to the Michigan Board of Regents for approval. In that proposal, Brandon plans on showing his ideas for what they will do with the football facility.
“We’re pretty excited about the prospects there,” Brandon said.
Michigan, Brandon said, is also in the midst of raising funds for a $250 million renovation and expansion plan for 15 other sports.