Notre Dame vs Michigan - More Than A Rivalry Ending

Discussion in 'NCAA Athletics' started by little bear, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    http://espn.go.com/college-football...tre-dame-michigan-end-era-college-powerhouses

    Staying power doesn't always last

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    Michigan and Notre Dame will play for the last time in many years on Saturday.

    So I flip on "SportsCenter" on Thursday morning, and there's No. 16 Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, live from the ESPN bus, talking about the last showdown with unranked Michigan on Saturday night.
    This is an emotional rivalry in a sport fueled by emotion. I've covered quite a few of them on both campuses. I was there when Rocket Ismail proclaimed his stardom with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 1989. I was there 20 years later when Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw the winning touchdown pass with 11 seconds to play.
    We keep saying that college football is an oligarchy, ruled by the few over the many. Oklahoma has won the Big 12 eight times in Bob Stoops' 15 seasons.
    Alabama stormed the palace in 2008, took it in 2009 and refuses to leave. In fact, the Crimson Tide leaves only when Auburn defies logic (coming back from 24-0 in 2010) or time (the Kick Six with :00 showing on the clock last season) to win the Iron Bowl.
    Sounds right. The powerful stay in power.
    Until they don't.
    There's plenty of evidence to indicate that the majority of programs that have established themselves atop the sport throughout its history are coming up short these days. As far as staying power is considered, a decade may as well be a century. As we pointed out above, the Sooners have remained a power in their conference since 2000. But they are an exception.
    Take Miami, which won five national championships in 19 seasons (1983-2001). The Hurricanes brought credibility to the Big East when they joined and took credibility away when they left. Miami joined the ACC in 2004, and the Hurricanes have yet to win the conference title. In fact, they haven't played in any of the nine ACC championship games. And if Monday's 31-13 loss to Louisville is any indication, they won't be playing in No. 10.
    USC, the predominant power of the last decade, has yet to play in a Pac-12 championship game. Ohio State didn't make it to a Big Ten title game until last season, when they got run over by Michigan State. Granted, there have been only three such games in each conference. And both programs have suffered from the effect of NCAA punishment. But they are known as perennial powers in their respective leagues, and USC hasn't won a conference championship in six years, Ohio State in five.
    All of which brings us back to Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night. The Fighting Irish and the Wolverines conclude a stirring 35-year rivalry with a lot of fanfare and not much else. Tickets on the secondary market are more expensive than ever, an economics lesson in artificial shortage. If the Irish and Wolverines were playing next season, tickets wouldn't be so costly.
    I'm like everyone else. I wish Notre Dame hadn't pulled the plug on the rivalry. There may come a time in the distant future when this rivalry is resumed, when more than bragging rights are at stake. But the truth is, Notre Dame and Michigan are groping about for national relevance.
    It has been 26 years since Notre Dame won a national championship, nearly a decade longer than the previous longest drought (1949-66). How long ago? In 1988, Irish coach Brian Kelly was an assistant coach at Grand Valley State. How long ago? Four days after the Irish completed the regular season at 11-0 by defeating No. 2 USC 27-10, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was born.
    Notre Dame stayed nationally relevant into the mid-1990s under Lou Holtz. They came back to the top five as recently as two years ago. But they have yet to make it clear they will stay.
    It has been 17 seasons since Michigan won a national championship and that's not even the jaw-dropper. It's been 10 years since Michigan won a Big Ten championship. In the 10 years before that, Michigan won four Big Ten titles. In the 10 years before that, Michigan won six. In the 10 years ... you get the point.
    So we say that college football is an oligarchy, because we know that the last 40 national championships have been won by only 22 schools. But there are some different names among the powers that currently be. Yes, Oklahoma and Alabama are there. But so are Oregon and Stanford. So is Baylor. Florida State has just returned to the top after a decade in the wilderness.
    Michigan and Notre Dame will play for the last time in many years on Saturday night. It's a blow to anyone who likes neighborhood rivalries. But the national news being made has more to do with the end of an era than it does the top 25.
    I hope that changes. College football is more fun when Notre Dame and Michigan are near the top. Trust me. I'm old enough to remember.


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  2. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    ND should have joined the Big 10 imo. The longstanding tradition of the schools in the Big 10 conference best fit that of the Irish program. I think it was a mistake to join the ACC.

    But there might be a chance the Wolverines and Irish meet up in 2019. Both teams have at least four dates still open that year, and some of them coincide. Maybe on a neutral field, who knows?

    Anyway, today's game should be really fun to watch. :cheers:

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    http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/21185/michigan-notre-dame-its-complicated

    Michigan-Notre Dame: It's complicated

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Divorce is always messy, especially when the opposing attorneys are two of the biggest fan bases in all of college football.
    Notre Dame broke up with Michigan. Heck, the Fighting Irish had been flat-out flirting with other prospects beforehand, arranging to see the ACC five times a year from 2014 to 2025. The Wolverines are the scorned ex-spouse, refusing to see the Irish for the foreseeable future while letting it be known at every turn that "they" started it, not "us." The Wolverines accused the Irish of chickening-out, and in case that had gotten lost on anyone, they made darn sure to serve a reminder by playing the visitors out of the Big House last year to the tune of the "Chicken Dance."


    The Irish? Why, the Golden Domers are way too cool for Michigan anyway. It's the Wolverines who are distraught, remember? "We" dumped "them." "They" need "us" more, because Michigan doesn't have another big game (or two) to circle on its calendar every year. Nope. And in case you weren't already convinced just how little Notre Dame concerns itself with Michigan, Irish fans are shelling out only $349 per person to get into the building Saturday. You know, just to prove that they don't care.

    Michigan and Notre Dame will have gotten together only 42 times after this weekend. But the fact this relationship has been put on hiatus so often speaks to the complicated feelings between the two sides. Breaking up is hard to do.

    Want mixed messages? Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick may have delivered the divorce papers to Michigan AD David Brandon before the 2012 game, but the Wolverines had given off the vibe that this was an open relationship. Less than three weeks before delivering the edict, the Irish had set up future dates with the ACC and were feeling a little claustrophobic. There was a three-year out clause in the Michigan agreement that simply made this affair the easiest for Swarbrick to get out of. Four months beforehand, Brandon himself had been non-committal about anything long-term. And there was already a fork in the road awaiting both parties in 2018 and 2019.

    Brandon said he was blindsided in 2012. Swarbrick told the AP this week that he had let Brandon know in a phone call beforehand. In case that wasn't clear, Notre Dame announced Thursday -- two days before its last meeting with Michigan -- that it has a pair of dates with Ohio State.

    We've heard you've been talking about us, Michigan. Now excuse us while we make arrangements to see the homecoming queen down the road ...

    "For a team to opt out of that contract, and to opt out of playing another team that is a great rival and is one of those great games, it's almost like a slap in the face," Michigan defensive end Frank Clark told reporters.

    Countered Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson: "I don't think I get into all of the hype of the game and things like that. But at the same time, you have to take care of business and you have to prepare."

    This latest wave of accusations from each side of the family simply follows what's in their bloodlines.

    Michigan may have taught Notre Dame how to play football ... but then the Wolverines blocked the Irish from Big Ten entry.

    Michigan may have canceled the 1910 game a year after its first defeat in the series ... but Notre Dame had been using ineligible players.

    On and on it goes, from the Fielding Yost-Knute Rockne feud that kept the union on ice for a 32-year stretch, to the tit-for-tat on the all-time winning percentage record -- a battle that, fittingly, is at stake Saturday.

    "Who knows when is going to be the last game?" Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said. "We just know we aren't going to play them in the near future."

    Irish coach Brian Kelly is also looking ahead.

    "We understand the great tradition and the rivalry of the Michigan game, and if it could have worked, it would have worked," Kelly said. "But it does open up some pretty exciting games in the future."

    It was hardly a picture-perfect marriage, but it was far more than a fling. Here's to one more fond memory Saturday night.

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