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The Future of Notre Dame Football: The End of a Rivalry?

 

One of the greatest things about Notre Dame football is its longstanding rivalries against other universities across the country. Traditionally, games against schools such as Navy, USC, and Michigan State are hyped beyond end. Students sell “Sparty’s Over” and “Trojans Break” t-shirts in the fall to get everyone else even more pumped for the upcoming games. Nearly all of us have at least a friend or two who attends one of said universities, and there’s absolutely nothing better than bragging when Notre Dame crushes his or her school. But, what happens when these traditions come to an end?  Unfortunately, this dreaded fear is becoming a grim reality…

After this year, the University of Michigan and Notre Dame are not scheduled to play each other again for at least the near future for the first time since 2002. Since their first match against one another in 1887, Michigan and Notre Dame have played each other over 40 times. That’s right, our northern neighbor, one of our biggest current rivals in Notre Dame football, will cease to compete with us until further notice. It might finally be time to put that “Muck Fichigan” tee into storage!

Prior to the upcoming hiatus, Notre Dame and Michigan took a 35-year break from each other between 1943 and 1978. Since then, the two teams haven’t gone over two years without playing each other. Although Michigan leads 24-16 in wins against the Irish, our losing record has only made the rivalry on the Notre Dame end more competitive as students, alumni, and fans everywhere pack the stadium everyone fall for this exciting matchup.

Brian Kelly, head football coach at Notre Dame, has pushed for the rivalry against Michigan to continue, but it gets complicated when you factor in the different conferences for both schools. Back in 2007, the universities extended their contract to play one another regularly all the way to 2031. However, because the contract is on a three-year rolling basis, it’s possible for either school to back out. According to ESPN, Notre Dame was the one who chose to cancel the games scheduled in years to come. Part of the reason for the change could be Notre Dame’s switch from the Big East conference to the ACC in all sports, except for football and hockey. The football team has agreed to play at least five games against ACC teams each fall, which leaves little room in the schedule for Big Ten conference teams such as Michigan.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick holds that the Notre Dame rivalries against USC, Stanford, and Navy should be held over others such as Michigan and Purdue. Because of Notre Dame’s decision to gradually switch its football team to the ACC, other rivalries may begin to change in the near future. 

As old rivalries come to a close, this only leaves room for many more new rivalries to come together. Although we look forward to these matches against teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue more than anything, we are lucky enough to experience Notre Dame’s progression into the ACC. The final scheduled game against Michigan will be played in South Bend on September 6th. So, brush up on all the student chants to cheer on our Fighting Irish in what could be the end of a football era and tradition! Go Irish, beat Michigan!

 

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