I guess I’m a dinosaur.
I much prefer watching sports events under the sun, in the afternoon. Under the lights seems somehow artificial to me. It doesn’t seem right.
I still like the fact that the Chicago Cubs play a lot of day games at Wrigley Field.
That’s why I was unexcited when the University of Michigan announced breathlessly last fall that they will host Notre Dame in first night game in the history of the program. The school’s athletic director Dave Brandon said it was a big event for the university.
I was wrong. This Saturday the Wolverines and Irish meet at 8 p.m. at the Big House. And it’s a big deal. A really big deal.
Brandon said earlier this week the ticket demand is the highest ever for Michigan football.
“This game was literally sold out five minutes after we put the tickets on sale,” he said.
That’s not surprising (Michigan hasn’t had an empty seat for a home game for more than 10 years). But Brandon said he could have sold at least 50,000 more tickets. Stub hub reports tickets are going for as much as $7,000 per seat.
And this is for a nonconference football game between two unranked teams.
Still, it’s Michigan against Notre Dame, the two winingest programs in NCAA history. And ESPN will broadcast it and Game Day will be in Ann Arbor all day.
Brandon said extra security has been added and events are planned all day, including a special, Brunch with Brady (with head coach Brady Hoke) for the students.
Hoke, by the way, said he preferred playing noon games. But he quickly added, as the Brandon was looking over his shoulder. “But it’s OK. It’s not my decision and that’s a good thing.”
Hoke, of course, has coached more than a few games at night while head coach at San Diego State and Ball State. And Michigan has played a number of night games on the road, including last year at Penn State.
Michigan center David Molk agreed with his head coach. He’d rather play earlier because he’d rather not wait around all day to play.
Michigan legendary coach Bo Schembechler famously said all games at Michigan should start at noon or 1 p.m. and he vowed not to let television networks dictate when his team was going to play. He also said Michigan’s program was a statewide one and he knew many drove from all over the state to attend games and it would be easier to do that in the daytime.
Brandon, who played for Schembechler, when asked how his old coach would react to a night game at the Big House, said Bo would probably not like it.
“Times have changed,” the athletic director said.
Indeed they have.
One big windfall for Michigan and for Notre Dame comes from special uniforms both teams will wear in the contest. Both will don “throwback” uniforms from the past and replicas will be sold for a special price for souvenir hunters.
Other bells and whistles are planned. Desmond Howard, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan, will be honored at halftime in recognition of his entry into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year. And before the game, the 14 University of Michigan graduates who died at the World Trade Center as part of 9/11 ten years ago will be remembered and a military jet flyover will take place.
Brandon said he hopes the night games will be an annual event at Michigan.
To me, night games are for the Southeast Conference and other southern schools. But then again, I’m a dinosaur.
Notre Dame enters as a 3 ½ to 4-point favorite. The Irish are coming off a loss to Central Florida while Michigan, 1-0, defeated Western Michigan last week in a game that was called with a little more than a quarter to play because of lightning.
For more information: mgoblue, annarbor.com, espn