Soccer is Michigan AD Brandon’s latest way to make use of idle Michigan Stadium

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What once was speculation has become a reality. Michigan Stadium will be the host site for a highly anticipated soccer match this summer between two of the top club teams from Europe, Manchester United and Real Madrid. The match was formally announced on Friday, ending months of rumor and speculation.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are scheduled to play in Michigan Stadium on August 2 as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup. Michigan made the joint announcement with Relevant Sports, the company in charge of putting on the match.

“We are excited about the opportunity to host two of soccer’s premier clubs at Michigan Stadium,” said Dave Brandon, Michigan’s athletic director, in a statement Friday. “This is a rare chance for the Ann Arbor community and thousands of soccer fans in and around the southeast Michigan area to watch elite level professional soccer. This event will have a positive economic impact on the city of Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan and will continue to extend the Michigan brand internationally.”

One of the goals for playing the game in Michigan Stadium will certainly be to draw a massive crowd. Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States, and Manchester United and Real Madrid figure to draw a large crowd.

“The Big House represents the best in American sports and Manchester United and Real Madrid are the most famous teams in the world,” said Relevent Sports chief executive officer Charlie Stillitano. “Whether you are one of the hundred thousand fans packing University of Michigan Stadium or viewing nationally on FOX, we know the atmosphere will be unlike anything fans have ever seen.”

No matter what the turnout for the game ends up being, this should be a big win for Michigan Athletics, which will benefit from hosting another non-football event inside the historic football stadium. In an age when universities continue to explore possibilities to generate more revenue off of large facilities that typically get used seven or eight times a year for its intended purpose, Brandon seems to have found another event that could become a more regular feature on the schedule. Earlier this offseason Michigan Stadium hosted the NHL’s Winter Classic. Could more hockey and soccer be helping to fill the void in Michigan Stadium in the offseason? This is, after all, one of the reasons why Brandon was hired by the university.

The tentative locations  for matches in the soccer series were reported in late January. Ann Arbor, Michigan was among the cities listed, leaving Michigan Stadium as the rumored host site. Among the other cities to host soccer matches will be New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Hartford.

LOOK: Notre Dame unveils alternate uniforms honoring Knute Rockne’s legacy

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As you may know, I’m hardly a fan of the alternate uniform craze.  These, though, I can very easily get behind.

Notre Dame on Friday released images of new uniforms the Fighting Irish will wear for their Nov. 18 game against Navy.  From helmet to shoes, the new duds will serve as a head-to-toe tribute to the legendary Knute Rockne.

The players will all have the name “ROCKNE” emblazoned on the backs of their jerseys, while the helmets replicate the leather ones of Rockne’s era.  The cleats also will pay homage to the era in which Rockne, also a former player at the school, coached the Fighting Irish to five national championships from 1918-1930.  In those 13 seasons, the Irish lost just 12 games under Rockne.

Additionally, the sleeves will be adorned with the words from one of Rockne’s most famous speeches.



Penn State OKs James Franklin’s new deal, reportedly worth nearly $6 million annually

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James Franklin is now in some very heady financial company.

Friday morning, Penn State’s Board of Trustees Committee on Compensation, as expected, unanimously approved an amended contract for their head football coach.  While no details were released — that’s expected to happen later today — it’s believed the amended deal will extend through the 2023 season.  Franklin’s old contract ran through 2019.

Additionally, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that the new six-year deal will average $5.8 million annually.  What Franklin’s compensation for 2017 and beyond will, again, be divulged later on today.

The average of $5.8 million a year would make him the fourth-highest-paid coach in college football, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban and a pair of fellow Big Ten coaches — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

Set to enter his fourth season with the Nittany Lions, Franklin has an overall record of 25-15 at the school.  After a pair of 7-6 seasons to begin his tenure, 2016 was a breakout one for the program as they went 11-3 and won the Big Ten championship for the first time since 2008.

Expectations are extremely high coming off that breakout season as the Nittany Lions are ranked sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

WATCH: Chris Simms cops to accepting $100 handshakes at Texas

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Given the content, what could possibly go wrong in the comments section below?

Chris Simms was a quarterback at Texas from 1999-2002, starting for the Longhorns his last two seasons in Austin. During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Simms, now a studio analyst on NBC‘s coverage of Notre Dame football, freely admitted that he accepted “$100 handshakes” from what he described as “random” boosters at various times while at the school and part of the football team.

“He might have 10 football jerseys for you to sign real quick and you’d sign it, and then he’d… ‘hey, thanks for this I appreciate that’ and give ya a $100 handshake,” Simms said, before going on to say, essentially, it happens everywhere so get over it already.

“For people out there to think like that doesn’t happen, that’s just stupid,” Simms explained. “Like get over it, it’s not a big deal, it’s happening everywhere. It’s happening at Harvard, it’s happening at Division II schools, it’s going on everywhere.”

The pertinent discussion starts at around the 4:16 mark.

Report: there will be a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl this year

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I think we can all agree with this: it’s about damn time.

Since the St. Petersburg Bowl was launched in 2008, it’s undergone several name changes, from the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008) to the St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef O’Brady’s (2009) to the Beef O’Grady’s Bowl (2010-13) to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (2014).  Now, the game that’s been known as the St. Petersburg Bowl the past two seasons is set to undergo its most glorious name change yet as Brett McMurphy is reporting that it will now be known as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

See, absolutely and utterly glorious.  In a similar vein, move over Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl as we have a new king wearing the “Greatest Bowl Game Name Ever” crown.

Bad Boy Mowers bills itself as “delivering the finest cut lawn care professionals and serious landowners demand;” the fact that the home of the bowl game, Tropicana Field, utilizes Shaw Sports Turf as its playing surface merely serves to add to the greatness of the name. And from where does Gasparilla come? McMurphy describes it as “an attempt to make the bowl seem more regional for the Tampa Bay area since the annual Gasparilla Parade is held each year in Tampa.”

The name change for the game, which pits teams from the AAC and Conference USA against each other, is expected to officially be announced Monday.