Among the many, many venerable and inviolable traditions at Michigan, one of the most arcane is the unspoken taboo on night games at Michigan Stadium: There have been exactly zero after-dark kickoffs in the stadium's storied, 83-year-old history, and only a few afternoon games that have even gone late enough to turn on the makeshift lights. With freezing temperatures in October and November and a notoriously sleepy crowd, it's just not done, you see.
At least it wasn't. That will change next year, when the Wolverines have finally agreed to make standard late-20th Century concessions to television and dangerously long tailgating sessions for the biennial visit from the Fighting Irish:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced today (Thursday, March 18) a historic night football game at Michigan Stadium between the Wolverines and Notre Dame on Sept. 10, 2011. It will be the first-ever primetime game played at home in the history of Michigan football.
"This will be an unprecedented game day atmosphere that our fans have not experienced at Michigan Stadium," said Brandon. "It's a great opportunity to showcase our program, university and Ann Arbor to a primetime viewing audience. This also adds a new chapter to the storied rivalry between our two great programs."
"Our players have always enjoyed playing night games and I think it's something that our fans will truly enjoy and embrace," said Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. "I expect the atmosphere will be electric for this matchup at the Big House."
Rodriguez (or his ghost press release quote writer) did not add, "And I sincerely hope I'm still around to see it." But with the ax hovering perilously above his head this fall, he can't really afford to look ahead to 2011, anyway. Where his future is concerned, this fall's date in South Bend ought to be electric enough at any time of day.