One of the greatest aspects of the sport of college football has always been the rivalries, but some luster was lost on that front thanks to expansion. If the developments of late this past week continue, at least a couple of rivalries that have been lost of late could be making their way back.
Both Texas’ Charlie Strong and his counterpart at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin, have previously stumped for a resumption of that bitter in-state rivalry. In pointed comments Friday, Strong gave the strongest indication yet that a resumption of a rivalry in hibernation thanks to A&M’s move to the SEC could be closer to awakening than most had previously thought.
“They’re trying to work out something right now where we go play the Aggies,” the UT coach said in response to a Houston Touchdown Club question.
Sounds promising, right? Before you go getting too excited, however, take in this cold dose of reality:
Back in April, A&M’s new athletic director, Scott Woodward, was quoted as saying he has “no objection” to a resumption of the football rivalry, although even he acknowledged that such a decision is “well above my pay grade.” After both Strong and Sumlin came out strongly in favor of a renewal in April of 2015, and prior to Strong’s comments this week, there had been very little movement on that front, save for one A&M regent publicly wanting to renew it to give the Aggies a “cupcake” game.
The Longhorns and Aggies last met in football during the 2011 season, a 27-25 UT win in College Station. The Longhorns lead the all-time series 76-37-5, although the teams split the last six meetings.
In the Midwest, significant chatter also surfaced in resuming the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry, although this talk seems to carry more hope and stronger legs than Strong’s.
“I’ve been on board since the inception,” UM head coach Jim Harbaugh said of playing the Irish again, a notion that really began to take hold in February of this year. “It’s something that’s been working on for many months, going on seven, eight, nine months now. There are still some T’s to cross and I’s to dot, but I’ve been on board fully since the inception.”
“We’re still working on it,” Harbaugh’s counterpart in South Bend, Brian Kelly, said. “Obviously from our scheduling standpoint we’ve scheduled so far in advance and I think I’ve made it fairly public that I’d like to see this game happen and I know Jim wants to make it happen.
“We’ve got some hurdles that we’ve got to work through, but you’ve got two coaches that are committed to making it happen. I’m sure we’ll figure it out and get it done, but we’ve still got a little work to get it done.”
Notre Dame and Michigan have faced each other in football 40 times. 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, a span of 35 years, they have met 18 times.
It was announced in September of 2012 that the Irish had opted out of playing previously scheduled games from 2015-17, meaning the last game between the programs came in 2014. It’s thought that the earliest a resumption, even as one of the coaches doesn’t consider it much of a rivalry, would come to fruition would be 2018, with a more likely target of 2019.