Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Notre Dame Opts Out of Series With Michigan

It was announced earlier today that Jack Swarbrick sent a letter to Michigan AD Dave Brandon, exercising a clause in the Michigan- Notre Dame contract that cancels the games in 2015-2017. This information was obtained from the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. Now, I did touch on the story of Notre Dame football having to switch to playing 5 ACC schools in a couple years when Notre Dame and the rest of their sports have switched to the ACC. I outlined there what Notre Dame is probably going to end up doing as far as a buyout goes. I have a few thoughts about this whole thing, so please stick with me.

1. Jack Swarbrick did so underhandedly--Now in the story that was released, Dave Brandon was given the letter of notification from Swarbrick on the field prior to the game beginning last Saturday. In doing so, Swarbrick and Notre Dame evade any penalty outlined in the Michigan-Notre Dame contract. I know there is a bit of communication between athletic directors that the public is generally not privy to, but it seems to me Swarbrick could have come up with a less conspicuous time to hand the letter to Brandon. Considering the date of the letter was on the Friday before the game, Swarbrick had obviously given it a lot of thought. Basically, he's telling Brandon "we'll do one more home-and-home contest, then you can kiss my butt." There will be no buyout clause, as is the case in breaking most contracts. Now, all that is left is one game in Ann Arbor in 2013, and one game in South Bend for 2014. The contract initially was supposed to go till 2020, and therefore negotiations might open up for more contests in future years. After 2014, I don't envision Michigan playing Notre Dame for quite a long time.

2. If not Notre Dame, then who?--Notre Dame was already going to be off of the Michigan schedule in 2018-2019. Now, there are three more seasons to figure out, or three more open dates. Look at the 2015 schedule, and I can easily see a MAC team placed in what would be the second week. Michigan has non-conference games against Utah, Oregon State, and UNLV. Utah would or could be the only away game on that slate if there is a MAC team placed there. In 2016, the only non-conference game scheduled so far is against Colorado, so really that year is wide open, and nothing has been announced for the 2017 season. What could happen in 2016 and 2017 is a game against the Big12, SEC, or the Big East. I'd leave the ACC alone, since they seem to be creating a different atmosphere over there.

3. What about the history of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry?--College football is cyclical. There have been gaps in the rivalry before, and Michigan shouldn't be too concerned. Our rivalries are with "Ohio"  and Michigan State, and keeping the Little Brown Jug from Minnesota . Yes, Michigan is the winningest program in college football, and Notre Dame is second. There have been only 39 meetings so far, but there's nothing written in stone about it never happening again. Recently, we've had the "Under the Lights" games (Notre Dame tried to rip off ours), Denard winning 1 of them with hardly any time on the clock, and being embarrassed with 6 turnovers in the last contest. This rivalry will still exist, but it will definitely be taking a long break.

So in conclusion, yes this is a big story. It's not about Michigan losing the Notre Dame rivalry in a couple of years because let's be honest here--they're not the only team out there. However, I do think Brandon needs to keep a team of their caliber and tradition in the schedule. In the end, Notre Dame is taking the easy way out.

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