Grand Rapids — Michigan has seven kickoff times set and now has two possibilities for night games this season at Michigan Stadium — Michigan State on Oct. 7 and Minnesota on Nov. 4.
In recent weeks ESPN and Fox have announced start times for several of Michigan’s games both at home and on the road, but Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said Tuesday at Egypt Valley Country Club where he participated in the Meijer LPGA Classic for simply give Pro-Am that it remains unclear if either or both of those games will be played in primetime.
“Don’t know yet,” Manuel said. “We won’t know until later into the season once we start the season. The way it works with night games is kind of the way it works with some of the other games in that nothing’s determined. It’s got to be 12 days out to be notified for a night game, but if it’s not a night game, it could be a six-day selection in terms of either noon or 3:30.”
Having networks deciding on a night game 12 days out is a new component in the TV deal with Fox, ESPN and BTN.
“Last year we would have known at the beginning of the year,” Manuel said.
He originally thought Michigan would not be playing night games in November, but the way the contract is written, a night game can be played within the first 10 weeks of the season. That makes the Minnesota game at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 4 a possibility.
“It could either be Michigan State or Minnesota or both,” he said. “Because of the way the schedule falls, depends what the first 10 weeks are. So I was thinking actually no night games in November, but it turns out that’s where the 10th week falls.”
This doesn’t leave schools a lot of time to get ready, but Manuel said he’s not sweating it.
“We’re preparing in case it is,” Manuel said. “And if it’s not, we’ll go to our normal 12 or 3:30 plan. The things you’re doing are what you would normally expect for night games with preparation for safety, security, more event staff, just doing different things on campus.
“We’re all preparing, and we’ve had the experience. Even though I haven’t had it here, but Michigan, when we hosted the last night game, it gave people a lot of great insight, so we have some good understanding. We’re preparing in case it is. It’s a new day as it relates to us not being able to control when we have night games.”