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Mailbag: Night Games and MSU Recruiting

The first question comes from RJ, who you may remember from the last edition of Mailbag:
The University has been fairly consistent about being against night games. With Rich Rod as coach might that change?
The University has indeed had a pretty consistent aversion to playing games under the lights. Lloyd Carr's Wolverines never played a home game with a start later than 4:30, whereas Rich Rodriguez's Mountaineers played night games regularly. This may give the impression that it was Carr preventing the team from taking the field at 7 or 8 PM. However, I think it was the athletic administration, rather than the football staff, that was preventing this.

AD Bill Martin has stated several reasons for wanting to not play a night game, and the retirement of Lloyd Carr didn't really change any of them. Some of the reasons include:
  • Alumni pressure. A lot of the older alums really want to be able to get in bed by 8, rather than sitting down in the Big House. Luxury boxes and indoor club seating might make night games a little more appealing to elderly fans.
  • Curbing all-day drinking. If people wake up at 7 to tailgate for a noon football game, they get very drunk. If they wake up at 7 to tailgate for a football game that is more than 12 hours away, they get very very drunk. This is a public safety issue, and the administration doesn't really want to get involved with that.
  • Wanting to allow Michigan fans to drive home while it is still light out. Afternoon starts don't really avoid this, and a lot of people live far enough away that they may end up driving in the dark anyway (especially with post-game traffic).
  • No permanent lighting in Michigan Stadium. The portable lighting that has to be brought in for later games (which is paid for by the networks, not the school, in case you were interested) is both a hassle and a poor solution that doesn't adequately light to playing field. With the stadium renovations, there will be footings for lights, but according to Dave Ablauf, still no permanent fixtures. However, the footings will allow for better lighting in the future.
In the first year, there is almost no chance of a night game, especially with the stadium renovations ongoing. However, with an enthusiastic young coach, and ever-increasing money to be made from TV, night games are something that it may be possible to see down the road.

The next question comes from an anonymous commenter who asks:
tim, i apppreciate the work you put into this blog. it is very well done. do you think that msu will keep both of their backs. i have to believe that one of them will bail.
Well, a lot of the players that are currently committed to the Spartans are not that highly regarded. I doubt State would lose Maxwell, Spencer, or Treadwell to a less prestigious program. That leaves the following three prospects:

Edwin Baker RB 5*, 5-11, 200, 4.40

Baker's recruitment had been pretty quiet until he committed to State. Michigan has offered him, though the offer didn't come until he was already a Spartan. It does not seem like he is probably going to stick with State, though I would be VERY surprised if he is the #2 running back in the country come February (I'll even be mildly surprised if he ends up with all 5 of those stars).

Chris Norman LB 4* 6-2, 200, 4.60
Norman had seemed pretty open, and perhaps even leaning towards Michigan. Then State offered, and he committed abruptly. If you had asked this question a while back, I would have said he was a strong candidate for decommitment. However, with each day that passes by, it seems less and less likely that the Spartans lose his pledge.

Larry Caper RB 4* 5-11, 210, 4.41
Caper seems like the most likely of Michigan State's verbals to leave the recruiting class. He committed to the Spartans before Baker (a more highly-ranked player) did, and though he says all the right things about not being scared off, the dread spectre of sitting on the bench has to be at least somewhat disheartening. However, State did do a god job splitting time between many guys last year (Jevon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick each had more than 220 carries), though they probably should have run it more, i.e. when it could have won them the Champs Sports Bowl. Caper's favorites prior to his commitment had been Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Michigan, and with Charlie Weis's cupboard currently bare, he might pursue Caper pretty heavily.

As always, thanks for the questions guys. Keep sending them in and I'll keep answering to the best of my ability.

Etc.: Texas quarterback GJ Kinne has announced that he will transfer. No word yet on whether this will affect the decision of Sherrod Harris, another 'Horns backup who was considering a transfer (with Michigan as a potential destination).

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“Mailbag: Night Games and MSU Recruiting”

  1. Blogger Bob Says:

    True on your points regarding night games. Another point is that Alumni/fans that travel 3+ hours for games don't want to get home at 2AM after an 8:00 kick off. With that said there will be a ton of pressure from ABC/ESPN to do more night games. Does only doing night games on the road still continue to make sense?

  2. Blogger RJHOVE Says:

    I agree with the point about when people get home. I don't see how there could be anymore partying than before a 3:30 start though. I do see how much exposure could come from being the the number one that week with all the hype of the day leading up. It would have to be a game early in the season