Brandon's Blog: Noon, 3:30 or Night?

Dec. 2, 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.

When it comes to Michigan football, the passion that fuels the enjoyment of the game also creates a plethora of opinions and ideas that cascade into my inbox and onto the Twitter page. One of the recurring themes is game times.

Everyone has a need and a reason why we should have kickoff at noon, 3:30 or even more night games. The idea that football should start at 1 p.m. was a wonderful tradition that ended years ago when television became a big time player in college football.

In 1984, when the Supreme Court ruled the NCAA's television plan was violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, the landscape of the game started to change.

Beginning with the 1984 season, televising of college football ceased to be under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. Schools were free to televise games at their own discretion. Add the influx of cable TV networks and college football soon became must-see TV. As it grew, fans weren't happy to see just a few games on television; college football fans at major universities now believed they should see every game possible.

The last time a Michigan football game was not televised was Sept. 30, 1995 at home against Miami University. Since that date, 206 consecutive Wolverine football games have been aired.

Starting in 2006, each Big Ten institution assigned its traditional and "new media" rights to the Big Ten Conference office in order to negotiate a contract as part of the Big Ten Network. The assignment of television rights now gives us the opportunity to air football games on ABC, ESPN and the BTN. It also guarantees all U-M football games will be televised.

With TV comes the fluctuation of game times. All television networks work with certain parameters to select games and game times. The networks make their selections and announce game times two weeks prior to the game with few exceptions. These are network selections that are then forwarded to the Big Ten and then sent to each school. Athletic Directors don't determine start times -- networks do!

Scheduling night games is different too. All night games are scheduled in advance of the season. There is no "flex" schedule like the NFL is using this week with the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints game moved to Sunday night. In this case, the NFL and NBC tell the teams when the contest will be played.

For instance, with this past year's Notre Dame game, we first had discussions with the conference office and the network to make sure our game would be aired nationally. Once it was confirmed, we scheduled the Wolverines' first night game at Michigan Stadium.

Though our media partners have all the power in determining our kickoff times, the schools are allowed some autonomy when it comes to night games and which days of the week the game is played. The conference office and/or the network would have to ask us for permission if they felt a game would be better suited for its needs to be played at night or on another day.

If asked, the answer will be that Michigan regular-season home football games will always be played on Saturday and a night game will only be scheduled if it is a "special game" with significant fan interest. We are not going to schedule a home night game just to play a night game.

In addition, we have no plans to move Michigan State or Ohio State to a night game in Michigan Stadium.

Even though television determines our game start times, we will work hard to make them a "wow" for our fans regardless of what time they begin!

Congratulations to our 2011 Wolverines and good luck in the upcoming bowl game. We will soon know where that game will be played!

Plus a special congratulation for our head coach Brady Hoke -- Big Ten Coach of the Year!

Go Blue!

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