Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis announced a "Celebrate the State" tour for his school's football program today. This initiative includes a scheduling agreement with three in-state MAC schools, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan that will send the Spartans to all three universities for "true" road games in the next 12 years.
In return for the Michigan State visit, the Chippewas, Eagles, and Broncos will each play in East Lansing three times between 2011 and 2020.
The just-announced football series seems to represent another brilliant brainstorm for Hollis and the Spartan athletic department. Playing in the western, central, and eastern parts of the state can only help build the MSU fanbase (and the state's economy), while getting a 3-for-1 deal in return visits with each school helps simplify the scheduling process for the next decade (and provide legitimate FBS opponents when most Big Ten schools are settling for FCS programs to fill out the home slate).
Hollis has always been known as an outside-the-box thinker, and was one of the driving forces behind drawing world-record crowds to see MSU's basketball (Basketbowl in Ford Field) and hockey programs (Ice War in Spartan Stadium). The announcement today further illustrates Hollis's willingness to use a mix of creativity and common sense, and football fans across Michigan and the Midwest should applaud him.
This article is also featured on FirstandBigTen.com, a Bleacher Report blog dedicated to Big Ten football.