Michigan is going to have a choice: Play in Rentschler field of pay $2 million.
Michigan is scheduled to visit Rentschler Field in 2013 and if the Wolverines do come they will easily be the highest-profile opponent to step on UConn's home turf. The problem? Michigan might not want to come. Rentschler Field is small -- it only holds 40,000 people -- and although Michigan's AD has promised to honor the contract, he's indicated a desire to play in a larger venue.
However, yesterday Warde Manuel spoke to Desmond Connor and made it very clear that UConn, who controls the site of the game, has no intention of moving it away from East Hartford. His exact words? "[W]e have a contract to play at Rentschler Field and that's where we're gonna play."
Despite Michigan's desire to honor the contract, Connor has also heard some chatter about the Wolverines having an interest in buying out the game, a decision that would cost the school $2 million. That sounds like a lot -- and it is -- but seeing as they play in a 110,000 seat stadium I'm sure they could make up the balance pretty quickly. The game is obviously much more valuable to UConn, as hosting a marquee opponent like Michigan still means a lot to a new program.
Manuel deserves credit for sticking to his guns -- I'm sure he was made aware of the heat Jeff Hathaway took for the UConn-Notre Dame scheduling debacle a few years back -- and a lot of people in the state will be thrilled to see this. Still, I'm not sure I'm among them. Just like with Notre Dame, I'd rather play Michigan in New York than not play them at all. Having a marquee opponent is great and having them in Rentschler Field would be even better, but having an extra $2 million and an emergency game against Rhode Island would be a disaster. Let's hope we avoid that third option.