Will Michigan contact Louisville for a football series?
Tom Jurich isn’t waiting for the telephone to ring. With Notre Dame having opted out of a series so it could play five games with Atlantic Coast Conference opponents annually, the Wolverines will have open dates on their schedule from 2015 through 2017.
Associated Press writer Ralph Russo has emerged from relative obscurity, proactively suggesting possible opponents to fill the void for Michigan. Other than his AP credentials, Russo is just another person with an opinion unless someone at Michigan put him up to getting involved in scheduling issues. He devotes considerable attention to Auburn, Brigham Young and Florida State before getting around to discussing Louisville (or Cincinnati) …
The Cardinals have room on the schedule and might even agree to a two-for-one deal, in which they make two trips to the Big House for one visit to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium by the Wolverines. How about this: Michigan and Louisville at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati? If nothing else, it might tick off Ohio State fans, and doesn’t that alone make it worth it for Michigan? Striking a similar deal with Cincinnati makes sense, too, but the Bearcats are booked up for 2015.
… Oregon and Oklahoma State.
If he had done his homework, Russo would know that Jurich is unlikely to enter into a two-for-one deal, no matter how highly regarded the opponent. Admittedly, the Michigan brand is certainly attractive, enough so that TJ would have to think long and hard about it before passing on the idea. Quality opponents have been hard to come by for UofL in recent seasons. Those that have agreed to play, like Georgia and Georgia Tech have opted out in the end. Even Duke bought out of a series.
Russo’s idea of Louisville and Michigan playing at a neutral site in Cincinnati would be impossible to turn down, especially if the revenue were to be split 50-50. An easy trip for UofL fans who would grab every available ticket, even at astronomical prices, a prospect which might appeal to Jurich.
Let’s say Michigan did call and that Jurich did agree to some kind of arrangement. What would that say about Louisville’s chances of getting into another major conference? Future scheduling would certainly be a concern if he were in back channel discussions with another league. If he did agree, would it mean continued residence in the Big East? If he turned down a shot, the speculation would begin all over again.
Let’s just admit a series with Michigan is a pipe dream. As long as Louisville is trending upward under Charlie Strong and becoming competitive again, Michigan is not going to call. Visions of UofL returning to the level of the Bobby Petrino era are enough to discourage lesser opponents. Unless something changes, the traditional powers are not going to change their modus operandi.
One could argue whether change may or not be coming. The creation of a selection committee in 2015 to determine which teams wind up in the playoffs would be a catalyst for change. Conferences like the Big 12, Big 10, SEC and PAC12 are leaning toward nine-game league schedules. To impress the selection committee, it may behoove many schools to beef up their out-of-conference games to improve their odds, giving the nod to Louisville over the many directional schools that currently occupy their schedules.
That’s expecting a lot from the big boy schools who dominate college football.