Published: October 23, 2013
Air Force has added an upcoming game with one of college football's traditional powers, but stands on the brink of losing another.
The academy announced Wednesday that it will play at Michigan on Sept. 16, 2017, a game that will earn the Falcons $1.3 million - the most ever for a "money game" in program history and nearly half a million more than it earned for a trip to the Big House in 2012.
But while Michigan is on the schedule, the 2015 neutral-site game against Notre Dame is very much in doubt.
"Bottom line, I don't think that game is going to go on in the immediate future," Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh said.
The location of the 2015 contest - which was to conclude a four-game series - had never been determined. Dallas and Denver were mentioned as possibilities. The Fighting Irish will be in Colorado Springs this weekend to play the third game in the series at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Long after agreeing to the deal with Air Force, Notre Dame entered into a pact with the Atlantic Coast Conference that provides five games each season. That cut out some of the flexibility in scheduling and has forced the program to rethink prior plans.
"They really love us and want to have a long-term relationship, but right now as you can imagine independents are having a real hard time scheduling," Mueh said. "Even the No. 1 independent, Notre Dame, decided they needed some guaranteed games."
Mueh left open the possibility that the final game would still take place, even if it is not in 2015. He also said there's still a chance the game will be played on schedule and intends to talk with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick about options this weekend.
If the Falcons do, in fact, lose the game with Notre Dame, the Michigan news certainly comes as a nice consolation prize.
The Wolverines narrowly held off the Falcons 31-25 in 2012, a game that drew a crowd 112,522 - the most people to ever see an Air Force game.
Michigan will not make a return trip to Air Force as part of the agreement.
"It was always going to be a money game," Mueh said. "It would have been neat to have a home-and-home, but to be honest with you between sequestration and starting up this nonprofit corporation and everything else, we need to look at that every once a while to bring some much-needed revenue into this department to sustain what we're trying to do.
"It's great to be wanted."
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon also included a $100,000 offer for a basketball game in Ann Arbor as part of the package. Mueh said he would leave it up to coach Dave Pilipovich - a former Wolverines assistant - if and when the Falcons would play the game.