As it turns out, the chatter on resuming the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry has indeed come to fruition, even as it may not move the needle much for one of the coaches involved.
Following up on nearly a year’s worth of said chatter, Michigan and Notre Dame announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement on a new home-and-home series between the two storied football programs. The Irish will host the Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium in the season opener on Sept. 1, 2018, with a return trip to Michigan Stadium scheduled for Oct. 26, 2019.
“This is a game that holds great significance for the student-athletes and coaches who compete on the field,” said UM athletic director Warde Manuel in a statement. “A great deal of credit goes to Coach Harbaugh and Coach Kelly for initiating the discussion of scheduling this series. This rivalry is also important for the fans of both programs, and we look forward to renewing one of college football’s great rivalries.”
“The competition between Michigan and Notre Dame has created a fair, healthy and productive rivalry over time, and it brings out the best in both programs,” said UM head coach Jim Harbaugh. “We look forward to facing Coach Brian Kelly and the Irish in the coming years.”
“Today is a great day for Notre Dame, Michigan and college football fans across the country,” Manuel’s counterpart, Jack Swarbrick, said. “Shortly after Warde Manuel was hired as Michigan’s athletic director, he and I began working to make this renewal of the series possible. That we could get games on the schedule as soon as ’18 and ’19 required a lot of work by our staffs and some great cooperation by the Big Ten, ACC and other schools that were on our future schedules.”
“I’m excited to see Notre Dame and Michigan, two brand-name programs, get back together on the football field,” said Irish head coach Brian Kelly. “Both programs have a long and storied history of success. We’re talking about the two winningest programs in all of college football.
“We’ve wanted to make this happen for quite some time. We wouldn’t be able to make today’s announcement without the work from Jack (Swarbrick) and other members of our administration. This is a win for everyone involved, not just those at either institution, but both fan bases and fans across the entire college football landscape.”
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) July 7, 2016
Manuel added that the two sides “are having on-going discussions regarding extending the series with Notre Dame [beyond the 2019 game] but nothing is finalized.” “While the schedule commitments of both Notre Dame and Michigan make an annual series impractical, we’re optimistic that additional games can be scheduled in the future,” Swarbrick was quoted as saying on that front.
Notre Dame and Michigan have faced each other in football 42 times, with the Wolverines leading the series 24-17-1. While the two programs first met in 1887, the series has been sporadic and seen a couple of significant breaks between games (1910-41; 1944-77). Since 1978, they had met 18 times in 37 years before the series took another sabbatical.
There is one casualty of this resumption as Michigan will drop a home-and-home series with Arkansas, scheduled for the same years as the Notre Dame games and announced in 2012. The decision to buy out the series with the SEC program will reportedly cost UM $2 million.