Ending Michigan-Notre Dame is a shame
Traditions come and go, but some shouldn’t be fooled with.
The Michigan-Notre Dame football game should have been preserved by an act of Congress, an act of God (one school has definite connections there) or something, anything, to keep the tradition alive.
They are the two most storied and successful programs in college football history. Most every meeting has been something special.
There was Raghib “Rocket” Ismail taking two kickoffs to the house in 1989 to launch his Irish legend.
There was Desmond Howard stretching out like a human Slinky to catch the pass that won the game in 1991 for the Wolverines and paved his way to the Heisman Trophy.
There was Bo Schembechler matching wits with Lou Holtz, and Denard Robinson leading Michigan’s check-your-heart comeback win in Ann Arbor in 2011.
Unfortunately, it will be no more after 2014, thanks to a letter Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed to Wolverines athletic director David Brandon before Saturday's game that exercised a three-year out clause in the scheduling contract for their games in 2015-17.
There are definitely longer rivalries -- Michigan leads 23-16-1 after just 40 games, and the two teams have played regularly since only 1978 -- but the issue here is preserving the quality of competition the two schools have produced.
It’s also about the winged helmets and the Wolverines' No. 1 victory total of 897 versus Touchdown Jesus and the 857 wins.
I understand what’s going on here.
Notre Dame is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in everything but football but still has to play five games against its new brethren each year. So room must be cleared in the schedule.
The Irish apparently want to keep Southern Cal and Michigan State while Navy and Purdue are other long-time schedule regulars.
But why get rid of what has become one of college football’s most-anticipated pairings of the last 50 years?
Notre Dame broke a three-game losing streak in the series Saturday, and now sends a Dear John letter:
“Dear Wolverines: We can still be friends, but ...”
Hey, Oklahoma-Nebraska no longer settles a major conference championship, and that used to be a pretty big game, too.
Life goes on.
Really, though, does Notre Dame-Wake Forest get the fans excited? How about the Fighting Irish taking on the Blue Devils in that dinky, little stadium in Durham, N.C.?
About the only game that will get any sort of national interest is Notre Dame-Florida State.
And who will Michigan be able to schedule on short notice to fill the gaps left by the Irish? Miami of Ohio? Northern Illinois, maybe?
The Yankees must play the Red Sox. Ditto for the Lakers and Celtics. Montreal and Toronto taking a hockey hiatus? I don’t think so.
But Michigan-Notre Dame has just two years left.
It simply doesn’t seem right.
Say it ain't so.