The Royal Heffernans

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Michigan "Rivalry"

The outcry over the loss of what has suddenly become the most storied rivalry in college football is both disingenuous and laughable.

Mark May:
"I can't have much doubt. I think it's a terrific rivalry. And when GameDay comes to town they know it's a big game, everybody knows it's a big game. Growing up in upstate New York, I used to watch it when I was growing up, when it was on television."

Skip Bayless:
"This is not an historical... Are you kidding me? I mean, I grew up, I couldn't wait for Michigan-Notre Dame, going back to Bubba Smith."

Really Mark? The first time Notre Dame played Michigan in your lifetime was 1978. You were at Pitt and had a game that day against Temple, so I assume you didn't watch it. Skip, you were 26 the first time these teams met in 1978 - and Bubba Smith played for Michigan State!

Without going into too much detail, there is an amazing article that talks about the actual facts behind this rivalry. Jim Lefebvre gives a great summary of this series' history. Here are some highlights:
  • 1887: Notre Dame's first football game is a loss to Michigan.
  • 1888 - 1909: These schools play 8 more times as college football is born.
  • 1909: Notre Dame finally beats Michigan.
  • 1910: Notre Dame boards the team bus for the road trip to Ann Arbor for the Michigan game. At Niles, they are turned around, as Fielding Yost cancels the game. How's that for notice!
  • 1910-1941: Yost's hatred of Notre Dame, born of that loss and his well-known anti-Catholicism, prevents Notre Dame from playing Michigan, and blackballs them from joining the Big Ten. Don't believe anti-Catholicism was real? Read the linked article above or try this one: Notre Dame Battles the KKK.
  • 1942-1943: The series resumes only after Yost retires.
  • 1944-1977: Another loooong hiatus as Michigan just can't get over it's ND hatred.
  • 1978: The rivalry is renewed and carries on in the modern era.
  • 2007: Both schools sign a 20 year extension of the series that runs through 2031.
  • 2010: Michigan athletic director David Brandon announced that the deal had never been signed, and that the two schools were playing without a real "contract" right now. He continued to say that their mutual agreement to play allows for either side to pull out of the rivalry with three years notice.
  • 2012: Michigan notifies Notre Dame that they will exercise that option and cancels games in 2018-2019 with "plans" to renew after 2020. No reason, except rumored Big Ten expansion to 9 conference games.
  • 2012: Notre Dame later notifies Michigan that they will also exercise the same option and cancels games in 2015-2017. This is due to Notre Dame's deal with the ACC.
So you can see that Brady Hokes posturing and ripping Notre Dame for "chickening out"  is ridiculous. He is blatantly ignoring the actual facts and history of this series. Clearly, Michigan has called the shots and continuously crapped on Notre Dame out of hatred, bigotry and spite. The current hiatus that will begin in 2015 is simply due to conference realignment. Had the B1G not added 2 ACC schools, we probably wouldn't have allied with the ACC, and likely would still be playing Michigan every year.

So as we all sit back this Saturday night, drink our Pumking, and watch the Irish kick the living crap out of Michigan, pull this post up on your iPhone and reference the facts every time some yahoo rips ND for cancelling this "storied" rivalry. I'm sure Brent and Herbie will have a field day tearing into Notre Dame.

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