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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Michigan aims for more academy games

By Adam Rittenberg

Not to give away too much, but when we compile our list of potential trap games for the 2012 season, Air Force at Michigan will be on there. After the blockbuster season opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, Michigan returns home Sept. 8 to face the always dangerous Air Force Falcons. Air Force employs the triple option offense and, not surprisingly, plays with tremendous discipline. Regardless of what happens against Bama, Michigan will need to be locked in for Air Force.

Despite the tricky matchup, Michigan is embracing the Air Force game and hopes to add more contests against service academies in the coming years. Athletic director Dave Brandon said Tuesday that the Air Force game will take on a different tone at the Big House, as Michigan is planning a special tribute to "salute the military" and "celebrate the Air Force."

Anyone who read colleague Mark Schlabach's terrific piece on Michigan's recent leadership retreat to California, which included a training session with the Navy SEALs, understands the affinity Wolverines coach Brady Hoke has for those serving in the military.

Brandon on Tuesday said he'd like to add more games against service academies to Michigan's future schedules. The Wolverines, who will play Air Force for just the second time and for the first time since 1964, haven't faced Navy since 1981. Their drought with Army stretches back to 1962.
"We would love to schedule Navy, but that's been hard to pull off," Brandon said. "They schedule way in advance, and their department is restricted because their non-conference, they've got a lot of alliances [to honor]. We'd love to play Army, too, but it's a similar problem. We'd like to do more with the service academies, though. Brady would, too. With Brady, if the Navy SEALs had a team, he'd want to play them too."

Notre Dame, which like Navy and Army is an FBS independent, has an annual series with Navy but has faced Army just four times since 1985. Brandon doesn't anticipate adding Navy or Army for several years, if at all.

He also hinted Tuesday that Michigan is close to finalizing a matchup with a Pac-12 opponent as part of the Big Ten/Pac-12 scheduling partnership. Michigan is ready to sign a contract but needs to wait for its opponent. Brandon said they're "days away" from firming up the agreement.