Four things to know about the Michigan-Notre Dame football game renewal
Michigan and Notre Dame are officially renewing their rivalry in 2018
Yes, that's right, after a somewhat contentious breakup back in 2012, and a finalized divorce in 2014, these two lovebirds have decided to give it another shot.
"The competition between Michigan and Notre Dame has created a fair, healthy and productive rivalry over time, and it brings out the best in both programs," said Jim Harbaugh in a release. "We look forward to facing Coach Brian Kelly and the Irish in the coming years."
Notre Dame will host Michigan on Sept. 1, 2018, with the Irish making the return trip to Ann Arbor on Oct. 26, 2019.
As of now, it's just a single home-and-home, and there are no plans to make it a regular game.
Whatever the case is for these two star-crossed lovers in the long-term, here's what you should know about both of them while waiting for the 2018 reunion.
1. It's hard to see this as anything other than a good thing for college football fans: If you're a Notre Dame or a Michigan fan, it's possible you aren't happy about this, and we'll get to why later. If you're just a neutral observer, however, it's hard to see this as anything but good news for college football. We're talking about two of the winningest programs in college football history here, and they'll be playing one another.
As we enter the 2016 season, Michigan has won more college football games (925) than any other school in history. Notre Dame is in second all-time with 892 wins. Notre Dame has the highest all-time win percentage of any college football team at .732. Michigan is in second at .730. What I'm trying to tell you is there's a lot of history here!
No matter your personal feelings for either school -- they both have very large fan bases, meaning they have just as many people who hate them -- the fact is that they're both historic programs who will enter each season as a College Football Playoff candidate. So any game between them will have large implications on the national scale.
The more games we have between during CFP contenders in any given season is a good thing.
2. This isn't the first time these schools have broken up and reunited: The first meeting between Michigan and Notre Dame took place in 1887, only 22 years after the conclusion of the Civil War. They then played two games against one another over an April weekend in 1888. Two games in one weekend! In April!
After that, though, the two schools took a decade off before resuming relations in 1898. Then they played four games between 1898 and 1902 before taking a five-year break and reuniting in 1908. It would be short-lived.
The Irish and Wolverines played again in 1908 and 1909, but before the schools would meet as scheduled in 1910, Michigan's Fielding Yost cancelled the game. Yost believed that two of Notre Dame's players were ineligible (it's nice to know that coaches have been snitching on each other for well over a century) and refused to schedule the Irish. Yost also did everything in his power to blackball Notre Dame from what was then the Western Conference, which would go on to become the Big Ten.
So, if not for Yost, Notre Dame may have joined the Big Ten over 100 years ago, and Jim Delany would have found himself with more free time during his Big Ten reign.
Anyway, after the Yosting, the two schools wouldn't meet again until 1942, but yet again, the reunion wouldn't last long. They played games in 1942 and 1943 before parting ways yet again before getting back together 1978. This time the relationship seemed to work out. While they wouldn't play annually, taking a short break here and there, the two schools met 31 times between 1978 and 2014.
So Notre Dame and Michigan are that annoying couple you remember from college. But this time they're not getting back together, they're just meeting for lunch. They still care about each other and want to remain friends. But we all know what that could lead to.
3. Which is good, because it is likely in both school's best benefit not to make it an annual game: In the CFP era, while having games against one another on the resume will look good, these days, it's probably best that both Michigan and Notre Dame have some variety. Things have changed a bit, after all. The biggest change is that, while Notre Dame may still be an independent, it has a scheduling agreement with the ACC. With its ACC games, as well as rivalries it wants to keep with USC, Stanford and Navy, having Michigan on the schedule every year would make it a lot more difficult for the Irish to reach the CFP as often as it wants to.
The same can be said for Michigan. With 14 teams in the Big Ten, the conference will now play a nine-game conference schedule every season, leaving only three nonconference games for Michigan to work with on an annual basis. The Wolverines clearly value their rivalry with Notre Dame, but they also want to play games against schools like Florida, Washington, UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma, all of whom are on future Michigan schedules.
Games against teams like that, plus Notre Dame, a random MAC team and nine Big Ten games makes for a rather difficult schedule.
4. Michigan is dropping games against Arkansas to fit Notre Dame in: Oh, and Arkansas is also one of those teams that Michigan was scheduled to play in 2018 and 2019, but those plans have changed!
Michigan has backed out of its games against the Razorbacks (though it'll reportedly still have to pay the Hogs $2 million, so Woo Pig Sooie) to make room for the Irish.
"While it's never easy to change football schedules," said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. "I appreciate Arkansas' Jeff Long understanding of the need for this change, as well as Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs and Coach Ash for agreeing to change the date of our conference game so we could bring this Notre Dame rivalry back to the field."
Which is all well and good, but I have to admit that I'm somewhat disappointed that we won't have a Harbaugh-Bret Bielema showdown in the near future.
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