Brandon's Blog: Bringing The Rock Back to The Big House
1979 Program Cover

Oct. 21, 2013

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.

In the world of college football, the sport itself is the main event. The way we perceive the game, it becomes more than X's and O's on the gridiron. In today's sports culture, it is a cultural commodity built around emotional values.

The tailgates, the bands, the campus, the stadium and the camaraderie of the fans create an atmosphere for college football that is difficult to re-create unless the components are in place.

Fortunately, the University of Michigan has all these components, and when we use it for Wolverine football home games six to eight times a year, the city of Ann Arbor and Michigan Stadium become electric.

On Oct. 18, 2014, we will host more college football in the Big House, entertaining a team that already has an emotional tie to Michigan football.

Slippery Rock's football team will return to Michigan Stadium for the third time in the history of the program when it hosts Mercyhurst. Most U-M fans know about Slippery Rock from the scores announced at Michigan home football games, but it has been more than 30 years since The Rock last played at Michigan Stadium.

U-M director of intercollegiate athletics Don Canham brought Slippery Rock to Ann Arbor for the first time on Sept. 29, 1979, when it played Shippensburg State.

Always the marketer, Canham helped fill Michigan Stadium with his advertising savvy and winning football teams. Band Day was just one of his ingenious ideas. He brought high school musicians -- and their parents, of course -- into Michigan Stadium to help create a special day of entertainment and Wolverine football.

By 1979, 100,000 crowds were the norm, and Canham was looking for new revenue streams. He knew Michigan Stadium in itself was a draw, Band Day had been a success, and Slippery Rock had an emotional pull.

Why not bring all this together to create a "wow" event?

Canham bought out a Shippensburg home game with Slippery Rock, brought Band Day back together, and set his sights on an NCAA Division II attendance record on a day when U-M football was on the road in Berkeley, Calif., playing Cal.

He did just that, setting the NCAA DII attendance record as 13,000 high school musicians were among the 61,143 fans watching Shippensburg beat The Rock, 45-14.

Two years later, Canham invited Slippery Rock back to play Wayne State, but The Rock has not returned to Ann Arbor to play football since 1981.

Once again we broadcast the Slippery Rock scores over the PA and on the video boards at Michigan Stadium, and now it is time to bring The Rock back to the Big House.

Michigan Stadium has changed drastically in the 30-plus years since Slippery Rock last played on the turf, but the mystique of Michigan Stadium and Wolverine football continues to grow, and this game provides an opportunity for Slippery Rock to remain part of our tradition that started in 1957 when Michigan Stadium PA announcer Steve Filipiak first gave the scores.

This will be a fun day and a fun game for fans of college football to enjoy, and it will be a "wow" event for the student-athletes of Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst.

We look forward to hosting the game in 2014, and we look forward to hearing our current PA announcer, Carl Grapentine, give us the score of Slippery Rock football for each and every home Michigan football game.

Good luck to The Rock, and Go Blue!

Slippery Rock defeated Clarion, 34-13, in its homecoming game Saturday (Oct. 19) to improve to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference.

U-M to Host Slippery Rock Football Game at Michigan Stadium
Ticket and Band Information
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