Brandon's Blog: A Wow Experience for Everyone
Under the Lights flag football

Sept. 12, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

One of the Michigan Athletic Department's guiding principles is to "create 'wow' experiences for our student-athletes, fans and department team members." For the student-athletes and fans, we continue to work hard creating those experiences. "The Big Chill at the Big House" ice hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State this past December with a world-record hockey crowd of more than 109,000 and this past Saturday's "Under the Lights" first night football game at Michigan Stadium with the another record crowd of 114,804 are two examples of our efforts.

Saturday night's "wow experience" went exactly as planned. I am very proud of my team at Michigan Athletics. And, of course, we are all proud of Coach Hoke, his staff, our football team and their great come-from-behind victory. It was a terrific weekend of activities capped off by one of the most exciting games we will ever witness.

These events do not come about easily. It takes a great effort by our U-M Athletic Department team to create and execute these events at the highest possible level.

Creating a Athletic Department "wow experience" is a different type of challenge. Recently, we discovered what it is like to be a member of the Michigan rowing team, as many of our department team members made a trip out to our rowing facility. We were given terrific (and patient!) instructions by coach Mark Rothstein, his staff and several of his student-athletes. It was educational and fun! We all left with a greater respect for the physical and mental demands of being a member of our crew team -- which was a great lesson for us all!

Last Wednesday, Michigan Athletics "went to the Big House" and experienced an "Under the Lights" football experience of our own! The Blue Team (coached by Jason Winters) and the Maize Team (coached by Brian Townsend) squared off in a "wet and wild" display of flag football frivolity in a very wet Michigan Stadium! At times, it was a pounding rain! (However, NO LIGHTNING!)

Participants had their own locker in the team locker room, complete with their own customized locker sign and T-shirt. Many couldn't resist the need for eye-black to ensure they looked (and were!) ready to play. After a brief pregame talk by yours truly, both teams slapped the "M Go Blue" sign over the doorway leading to the tunnel, ran down the tunnel, and, on cue, raced onto the field and ran under the "M Go Blue" banner and touched it (except a few who couldn't reach it!) to start the game.

We had referees, scoreboards, announcers, the Glee Club singing the national anthem, and many members of our department competing at a very mediocre level!! Most importantly, despite the rain, wind and somewhat chilly temperatures, a great time was had by all who participated.

The winning trophy was presented to the Maize Team for its decisive victory over a valiant Blue Team. By the way, we are a VERY competitive bunch, as evidenced by some pulled leg muscles, a few bruises, and just a bit of trash talking that took place during the event! And, as witnessed by an all-time record crowd in Michigan Stadium this past Saturday night and millions more watching on national television, my Athletic Department team is very competitive when it comes to working hard to be leaders and best at what they do!

Without the effort of everyone on the U-M Athletic Department team, "Under the Lights" would not have been the great success it was. We are going to continue creating and executing "wow" events for our fans, and one of the best ways to ensure that happens is to create a lot of commitment, excitement and enthusiasm among our department's team members. We want to be a great place to work!

It was sure fun to watch Michigan Athletic Department team members having such a good time at both the boathouse a few weeks ago and at Michigan Stadium last Wednesday as we played flag football "Under the Lights" in the rain!

And it was fun and rewarding to see our department team members have a great time executing one of the most unique and special games in Michigan football history, "Under the Lights!" Thanks to all of you who helped make memories that will last a lifetime.

Go Blue!

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