Many observers thought it more than a bit curious that officials from Ohio State and Michigan said nothing publicly to thwart what seemed to be momentum for ending the timing of the Buckeyes-Wolverines annual showdown in late November.
Jim Tressel couldn't be coaxed into entering the debate. OSU AD Gene Smith would not even state his personal preference. OSU president Gordon Gee said in Dayton that he was warm to the idea of adjusting the timing of the game.
New Michigan AD Dave Brandon went even further, suggesting on Aug. 20 that it'd be preferable to move the date from late November to ensure the arch-rivals couldn't meet in back-to-back games (if both advanced to the Big Ten championship game).
Today, Brandon hinted to Michigan reporters that it may have all been a ruse to spark a public outcry to save The Game's final-week status. When asked if he made
Brandon added, "Hey, my sense was that was a jump-ball situation, and I ran a public company for 20 years and learned about managing expectations. It's easier to exceed expectations if you manage them properly. So I wanted people to understand that was a possibility, and the fact we got some reaction to that was helpful. It all worked out."
The fact that his comments two weeks ago came a day after Smith told the Dispatch the OSU-Michigan game might be moved?
"Totally coincidental," Brandon said, smiling again.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the notion of moving the OSU-Michigan game was not a trial balloon. He said floating trial balloons isn't his style. But he said he couldn't speak for others.
"There were a lot of models being run in the early stages (and) that game was a late game but not the last one," Brandon said. "At one point there was a very real possibility that the game would be moved off the last game of the year, and all I have to say about it is I love the fact we're able to retain it. It's important to our fans, its important to me, and I'm glad we got there."