With Notre Dame opting to end its long-running series with Michigan after the 2014 season, the Wolverines are in the market for a new non-conference opponent.
Pickings are relatively limited with so many home-and-home contracts being agreed to years in advance these days. One team which does have an opening for the perennial powerhouse from Ann Arbor is the mighty Louisville Cardinals.
In turn, U of L has begun to pop up as a potential fill-in for Michigan from 2015-2017.
LOUISVILLE (OR CINCINNATI) - The Cardinals have room on the schedule and might even agree to a two-for-one deal, in which they make two trips to the Big House for one visit to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium by the Wolverines. How about this: Michigan and Louisville at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati? If nothing else, it might tick off Ohio State fans, and doesn't that alone make it worth it for Michigan? Striking a similar deal with Cincinnati makes sense, too, but the Bearcats are booked up for 2015.
Rumblings have already started to make their way around the Internet that the folks at U of L and UM have at least had a preliminary talk (or contact of some sort) about the possibility of this deal coming to fruition. For it to occur, however, Tom Jurich might have to back off his stance that Louisville will not enter into any 2-for-1 deals that would send the Cards to an opponent's stadium twice in exchange for just one return trip.
I think this is an instance where, if you have the chance, an exception has to be made. Louisville hasn't faced a truly elite non-conference program since Miami came to PJCS back in 2006 (still pissed, Georgia). We all saw what that moment in the spotlight did for U of L's national profile, and the Cards have been noticeably void of a game with that type of hype in the years since.
If Louisville does wind up sticking around in the Big East, then Michigan is the type of opponent the program has to get on the schedule in order to ensure that it doesn't wind up being unfairly disrespected.