ANN ARBOR — Jarrod Wilson grimaced when he was asked about his memories of one of college football’s most memorable upsets — and one of Michigan football’s more dubious defeats.
“I was 12,” said Wilson, a junior safety for the Wolverines. “I was not watching Michigan.”
If that’s the case, Wilson missed a historic moment on Sept. 1, 2007 — the upset of one of college football’s blue-bloods. With six seconds left, Appalachian State’s Corey Lynch blocked Zoltan Mesko’s 37-yard field goal attempt to create one of college football’s most seminal moments: The Mountaineers’ 34-32 win against the Wolverines. It was the first time a Division I-AA (FCS) team had upset a top-25 FBS program.
“You almost remember where you were when it happened,” said Charles Davis, the lead college football analyst for FOX Sports. “That game was so big because it was Michigan, one of the elite names in college football. Who the heck knew what Appalachian State was?”
That day, Davis found out. So did the rest of college football. The Division I-AA teams that their I-A counterparts had scheduled weren’t just tackling dummies.
Yet with the changing landscape of college football, the NCAA’s approval of a governance structure that will give the five power conferences (Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, and ACC) and their 65 members more autonomy. The David-versus-Goliath matchups in college football could be in their dwindling days.
“Autonomy is going to create a real separation of the classes,” said Joel Klatt, an analyst for FOX Sports and a former Colorado quarterback. “The rich are going to get much, much richer, and it’s going to become more of an NFL-style schedule among the power-five conferences. They’ll create nonconference partners among themselves.”
UM coach Brady Hoke doesn’t think many more of these matchups in major college football are on the horizon, either, because of the advent of autonomy and the College Football Playoff, which factors in a team’s strength of schedule when it determines the four-team playoff. A win against a major FBS program would have a much heftier weight than a win against an FCS program. Hoke also cited economics as a factor in the future of these games.
“Athletic departments aren’t going to be as willing to pay the payout that some of these teams are getting or asking for, and that will have the business side of it being in that discussion, also,” Hoke said.
In a contract dated Aug. 25, 2011, and obtained by The Blade through a Freedom of Information Act request, Michigan will pay Appalachian State the $1 million guarantee by Feb. 1, 2015. The guarantee amount was originally $850,000 but rose to $1 million after Appalachian State announced in March, 2013, that it would become an FBS program.
Still, the FCS-FBS matchups are falling by the wayside, even after seven FCS teams upset FBS teams in the first week of the 2013 season, which garnered the schools a collective payout of $2.375 million, per ESPN. Eastern Washington received $450,000 after its upset of No. 25 Oregon State — only $50,000 more than Appalachian State received after its win over Michigan in 2007.
That upset gave Appalachian State immediate recognition. The Mountaineers made the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week and went on to win their third consecutive I-AA championship.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, finished 9-4 in 2007 but have had only one season with more than 10 wins since then — Hoke’s first season in 2011, when UM went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl.
“Our guys know about that game, and it’s the only school on the schedule this year that we have a losing record to,” Hoke said. “Obviously, I wasn’t here then, and neither were the 115 guys on this football team, and it won’t be the same Appalachian State team.”
RECRUIT COMMITS: Michigan received a verbal commitment from Darian Roseboro, a four-star recruit from North Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound lineman is the 11th player to commit to the 2015 incoming class.