For a brief moment, let’s forget about the nonsense revolving around whether or not Michigan will be or should be allowed to send its spring football practices down south over spring break. Instead, let’s take a look at the actual spring game. Michigan announced Friday morning its annual spring game will be played on Friday night, April 1, in Michigan Stadium. The exact start time has yet to be announced, but this being Michigan in the Jim Harbaugh era we should expect this to be a headlining event on the spring game schedule. Anything less would be a disappointment at this stage, right?
Michigan’s spring game, which will be aired by Big Ten Network, moving to Friday night puts the Wolverines in their own timeslot on the spring game calendar. Not that spring games generally battle for TV ratings the way actual games will in the fall, but Michigan is now the only program slated to play on that evening (per FBSchedules.com), although the Wolverines would have been the biggest name playing a spring game on the following day (the next biggest name would have been TCU). We will have to wait and see how Michigan handles this spring game and how much of a big deal they make out of it as well, but if the signing day event was any indication it would seem to be Michigan is in “go big or go home” mode with promoting the football program. With Big Ten Network setting up shop for the game, odds are Michigan will have some nice plans up their sleeves for the primetime event, which is free for all fans.
Last year’s spring game in Ann Arbor drew a school-record crowd of an estimated 60,000 fans. The hiring of Harbaugh generated quite the spark and renewal of enthusiasm surrounding the program and that was proven by the large turnout for the spring game. Michigan traditionally has not been a huge spring game draw the way others in the Big Ten (Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State) or SEC (Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee) routinely are. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio made it a point to encourage fans to show up in big numbers for the Spartans’ spring game last year as well, knowing that a big turnout and help keep interest high in the spring as well. Michigan State did turn in a respectable number of fans for its spring game too, with 48,000 showing up.
For what it is worth, the release from Michigan also confirmed Michigan plans to hold its first spring football practice in Bradenton, Florida on February 29.