2006 National Champions to Begin Football Title Defense at Michigan

Longtime Dawg Sports readers know that, for more than a year, I have been an advocate of scheduling a home and home series between Georgia and Michigan. This effort has come to be known as "The Movement" and that would-be contest has come to be called the "Blog Bowl."

There are many reasons underlying my particular preference for the Maize and Blue as a prospective opponent for the Red and Black. These reasons have not been diminished by my recent inter-conference disputes with MGoBlog, as I continue to hold The Lawgiver in high regard and as I greatly appreciated the manner in which TheMile improved the civility of the exchange between the dueling conferences.

In the spirit of improved interleague harmony, I present as a peace offering the foregoing photograph of Kristin Davis.

Unfortunately, Bulldog Nation's efforts to get the Wolverines on Georgia's schedule have failed to bear fruit. Although Damon Evans has contacted Michigan about arranging such a series, the powers that be in Ann Arbor have "declined to enter into discussions."

This refusal to entertain the possibility of a series with the 'Dawgs came at a time when both Georgia and Michigan were looking for a 12th regular-season opponent for 2007. The Classic City Canines had an opening on September 1, which ultimately was filled by adding what is likely to be a nationally-televised night game against Oklahoma State.

The Maize and Blue, on the other hand, had an opening on their schedule for . . . September 1, as well, after Eastern Michigan was moved to the Wolverines' October 6 open date. Since the Bulldogs already had inked their deal with the Cowboys by the time Michigan rearranged its slate, Lloyd Carr's squad was left with Vanderbilt as its best-case scenario, which drew a stern rebuke from Brian Cook.

Among Brian's many valid criticisms of Vanderbilt was his stinging denunciation of Bobby Johnson's atrocious time management in "Cheaper by the Dozen."

Not to worry, though; Michigan athletic director Bill Martin (who, to his credit, provided a cordial reply when I wrote to him) didn't plan to set up a second straight tussle with the Commodores. Instead, as was brought to my attention by the Rakes of Mallow, Martin went in a different direction.

Michigan's recently-released 2007 football schedule shows that, next September 1, the Wolverines will be squaring off against . . . Appalachian State?

Rather than send the Maize and Blue on its own "Sun Belt [w]orld tour," Martin has opted to bring in the Mountaineers from Boone, N.C. From where I sit, this looks like a pretty lousy matchup, but perhaps I am selling Appalachian State short. In its aforementioned schedule release, Michigan noted:

Appalachian State is an NCAA Division I institution and member of the Southern Conference. ASU fields 20 NCAA Division I sports and has won back-to-back NCAA Division I football national championships. . . .

Appalachian State is the only school in North Carolina history to win an NCAA football championship. . . .

In a region that includes six BCS-conference programs, Appalachian State was named the "Carolinas' Best" football program in an objective study by the Charlotte Observer in 2005 (before ASU won its first NCAA Division I national title).

As Appalachian State's sports information department has noted, the Mountaineers and the Wolverines "have combined for 13 national championships."

Well, all right, then; I guess I stand corrected. It turns out that this is a clash of Division I titans. Still, I can't help but think that there might be a difference between Michigan's and Appalachian State's respective Division I achievements. (Yes, I know, one of them regularly takes part in a postseason playoff, but we will save The Great Debate for next week.)

What could that difference be? Ah, yes . . . Appalachian State's batteries are included:

Double-A batteries, that is. In fact, next Labor Day weekend's showdown with the Mountaineers will represent Michigan's first game ever against a Division I-AA opponent.

Just to clarify, here is the Wolverines' 2007 slate:

September 1 - Appalachian State
September 8 - Oregon
September 15 - Notre Dame
September 22 - Penn State
September 29 - at Northwestern
October 6 - Eastern Michigan
October 13 - Purdue
October 20 - at Illinois
October 27 - Minnesota
November 3 - at Michigan State
November 10 - at Wisconsin
November 17 - Ohio State

Three of the Maize and Blue's road games are against teams whose 2006 records were 4-8, 4-8, and 2-10. Coach Carr's team will not play an out-of-conference opponent outside of Ann Arbor prior to the bowl game.

With a non-league slate consisting of defensively-challenged Notre Dame, an Oregon squad coming off of a six-loss campaign, and a M.A.C. school with a directional indicator in its nomenclature, the Wolverines had to go out and get Appalachian State? Was this what Jim Delany meant by "winning our way"?

Kim Delaney . . . making more sense than Jim Delany.

To be fair, Brian has consistently advocated tougher scheduling and I believe he supports something like my suggestion that teams be limited to 13 total home games in any two consecutive seasons.

Furthermore, I get why, even if the Bulldogs had still had a September 1 open date at the time the Eastern Michigan game was rescheduled, the Wolverines couldn't realistically have been expected to play Georgia, Oregon, and Notre Dame as back-to-back-to-back season-opening non-conference opponents . . . especially since, next fall, the 'Dawgs play the Yellow Jackets on the road and the Maize and Blue play the Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes in the Big House, so a 2007 Georgia-Michigan game would have had to have been played between the hedges.

Nevertheless, there is no excuse for a Division I-A power scheduling a Division I-AA team, and, at a time when Georgia is recruiting and scheduling nationally (despite the fact that the 'Dawgs cannot seem to get a game in the Midwest), this latest refusal by a Big Ten team to schedule a Southern squad even as mighty as Vanderbilt raises anew the question that has yet to be answered satisfactorily . . . what possible justification could the conference have for steadfastly refusing to face S.E.C. teams during the regular season?

Go 'Dawgs!

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