Notre Dame’s move to the ACC in most Olympic sports and a tandem football scheduling agreement has cost college football one of its most notable rivalries of the past couple of decades, at least in the short-term.
The Irish, the Detroit Free Press writes, “has notified Michigan it is exercising a three-year out in their contract, meaning their last scheduled game against each other will come in 2014.”
The paper obtained a letter from ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick to his counterpart at UM, David Brandon, of the school’s intent to not play the games scheduled for 2015-17. Swarbrick had previously stated that he would like to keep annual games with Navy, Stanford and USC when the Irish embark on its five-games-a-year ACC slate that will begin no later than 2014
Whether the ND-UM rivalry will resume at some point in the future remains to be seen — the teams are still scheduled to play annually between 2020 and 2031 on a contract that was announced in 2007 — although Michigan has made it clear that, one, it was the Irish’s idea to cancel and, two, they’d like to see it renewed.
“The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame’s and not ours,” Brandon said in a statement posted on the program’s Twitter account. “We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series.
“This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries.”
The news comes three days after the Irish beat the Wolverines for the first time since 2008. The final two games of the series will take place Sept. 7, 2013, in Ann Arbor and Sept. 6, 2014, in South Bend. Still to be decided is whether future games other Big Ten schools (Michigan State, Purdue) will become casualties of the alignment with the ACC as well.
Thanks to the last two-plus years of conference roulette, the game has been stripped of rivalries such as Oklahoma-Nebraska, Texas-Texas A&M, BYU-Utah and now Michigan-Notre Dame, among others. Your mileage may vary as to whether such developments are good for the long-term health of the sport.