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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michigan, Notre Dame Renew Rivalry for All Eternity

Well, so much for Michigan-Texas, Michigan-Georgia, Michigan-Florida State or a host of other intriguing - and fresh - big time college football match-ups.

Instead, say hello to more Ball States, Appalachian States and any school with a North, South, East or West in its name.


Michigan and Notre Dame have signed a 20 year contract extension which will keep the rivalry chugging along until 2031. And while obviously a classic clash of the two winningest programs in the land, as the Detroit News article linked above even states, that probably means there won't be room on the Wolverine schedule for another major powerhouse team.

Which, in my not-so-humble opinion, sucks ass.

Look, let me start by saying this isn't anti-Notre Dame. Now, let me say it again, because last time I broached this subject, some Domers got all in a tizzy: This isn't anti-Notre Dame. It's simply a desire to change things up a bit.

I was really hoping we'd do maybe two years on, two years off with the M/ND rivalry. That way, we could have a home-and-home with some other elite teams. Again, just to change things up. Get some fresh blood in the Big House as well as plan a couple awesome road trips to see the team. Lincoln, anybody? Gainesville, folks? I hear Knoxville is beautiful in September.

Plus, I believe taking a break every few years would have actually strengthened the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry. Absence makes the heart - and college football fans - grow stronger. But playing it every year, I think both fan bases take it for granted and the game loses a bit of its "specialness."

And for those who naively think we can still add a Texas or Georgia or Florida State as one of our other two non-conference games each year, not gonna happen. It doesn't work that way. Not in the BCS-era in which one loss practically eliminates a team from National Title consideration.

And that's not just Michigan, that's every team with BCS title dreams nowadays. It's what I call the Three Little Bears non-con schedule: One really good team, one (or two) average teams and one (or two) squads that has warm bodies on scholarship.

Thus, we'll play Notre Dame, one/two lower-to-maybe-mid-level major conference team (Vandy, Rice, etc.) and the usual cheese puff(s) like Eastern/Western/Southern/Northern INSERT SCHOOL NAME HERE.

And we'll be doing that for a looooong time.


Seth said...

Since there are now four little bears at the table it will be ND, Big Conference Bottom Dweller, Directional Michigan, and ???. There is only room to make ??? a good team if the B10 season is extended by a week to allow a mid-season bye. Otherwise we will continue to throw a cream puff MAC or D-1AA school in the mix. Playing 12 straight weeks is difficult, and if you throw a Tennessee or Nebraska in the mix it becomes even more difficult.

Robb said...

I have to agree with you, as an avid ND fan and Michigan lover come final game of the year....I too was hoping to change it up some. I like the games that have been against UM even if some have been ugly (last year, yuck), but lets face it....change is good. Oh well.

El Pendejo Grande said...

Yawn. Way to further dilute the product, Bill. Anybody know if we got the offset year like we wanted, or did Billy Baroo screw the pooch that way as well.

On the flipside, if ND sacks up and joined the conference, that would then free up a non-con slot for a different top tier (hopefully) opponent

Matt said...

I'm conflicted. I like the UM/ND rivalry. I mean, I hate ND, so I guess that's a good thing. But I was interested in seeing things changed up a little. I think that we can still add another interesting school to the schedule though. This year, as in 2003, we play Oregon in addition to ND. For a while in the 90s we had a series with Boston College, a respectable program. I know it's not UF, FSU, Tennessee, Nebraska, or any other elite program that we hate and are dying to settle a score with. (Nothing really happened with FSU, I know.)

We can still add an interesting program like Wake Forest or Oklahoma State (the other OSU). Sure we would ruin their season, but they can't expect to go too far.

Kelly said...

"And for those who naively think we can still add a Texas or Georgia or Florida State as one of our other two non-conference games each year, not gonna happen. It doesn't work that way. Not in the BCS-era in which one loss practically eliminates a team from National Title consideration."

you mean like USC-tOSU? USC-Auburn? USC-Arkansas? USC-Nebraska? All while USC-ND goes down every year. No need to make excuses.

Sundawg said...

You mentioned Florida State twice, and then Gainesville. While I understand your were simply rambling, FSU is in Tallahassee, a party city if there ever was one.

Kelly may have a point; you can schedule more than one or two big name teams in a season - SEC teams do it every year.

Yost said...


What SEC team plays two tough non-conference games this year? And by tough, I mean traditional Top 25 programs. Curious.

Temp430 said...

t's good that Michigan and ND have renewed their rivalry. College football would not be the same without it. And I don't buy into the concept that Michigan can not schedule another top shelf non-conference team. Michigan has done so in the past and should again. Dump the Appalachian and Eastern Michigan States and sign Colorado, Miami, or Florida State as they have in the past. Show some real balls and sign Nebraska, Texas, or Oklahoma. Stop trying to make Michigan into a MAC team for crying out load. Piss on the BCS and it's formula.

John said...

I'm glad USC doesn't think like you guys do in terms of nonconference games. Last year USC played Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Then USC played you guys in our bowl game. Just for historic value, I doubt anyone else's nonconference schedule compares to the one USC played last year in terms of tradition.

This year USC has Nebraska and Notre Dame.

Next year USC has Ohio State, Notre Dame.

Please don't tell me that nobody plays more than one tough non-conference game anymore.

Yost said...

Yes, last year was impressive for USC in non-conf games. But are you really including Michigan like it was a "planned" non-conf game? C'mon. USC doesn't get credit for that. They get credit for Neb, Ark and ND, which was probably the toughest non-con in the country.

But your example of this year isn't any better than Michigan's. SC has ND and Nebraska, U-M has ND and Oregon. So that's a wash.

As for next season, we have ND and Ohio State, too. :) And two open dates that haven't been filled, so the jury's out.

And Michigan isn't alone. Find other top tier schools that play two top tier (say, using ESPN's ranking of Top 25 programs in last 10 years) non-con games. They're hard, if not impossible, to come by.

ohio_guy said...

I don't like it because it means I have to root for Notre Dame once a year for the next 24 years

John said...

Nah, I wasn't including Michigan as a planned non-con, just mentioning the fact that the 4 non-conference teams USC ended up playing were some of the most storied in football. However, it was able to control for 3, and none of those were gimmes.

You are right that this year Michigan is playing ND and Oregon for '07, but let's look at 2008. Neither Miami of Ohio and Toledo are BCS conference opponents. USC has Ohio State, Notre Dame and Colorado State for '08, all BCS conference teams. In its recent past, it not only has played Nebraska and Arkansas, but it has also played at VA Tech, had a home and home with K-State, and another one with Auburn recently. And that's only in the last 4 years. Michigan's recent non-conference schedule doesn't even come close.

I mean, its one thing to play crappy I-A teams, but I-AA teams?

Don't think that I'm a Michigan hater tho. I really like Michigan. They are my second favorite team after USC (which is why I read this blog). I'm just saying that its stupid for fans to accept the statements by athletic directors that you are only allowed one big non-conference game a season.

Sundawg said...

Yost, my bad; must have just left the EDSBS Friday Cheesecake site with a scrambled brain.

I was thinking of conferences that have one dominating team choosing weak non-conference competition as opposed to the SEC east and west which is a friggin' mine field in a good year.

Another distraction was the mention of the Domers, an average college team with an above-average publicity department.

Play Tusk! said...

You dont think you can schedule Notre Dame and some other good team? Why not? USC does it. Not that I need to remind you, but I will.

2002: Auburn, Colorado, Kansas St, Notre Dame
2003: Auburn, Notre Dame
2004: Virginia Tech, Notre Dame
2005: Notre Dame, Arkanasas
2006: Nebraska, Arkansas, Notre Dame
2007: Nebraska, Notre Dame
2008: Virginia, Notre Dame, Ohio State
2009: Notre Dame, Ohio State
2010: Notre Dame, Virginia

It's not that you cant...it's that you dont want to. USC has played at least two big BCS schools (including Notre Dame) since 2002, and has the same scheduled for the future. Also of notre is USCs 2 National Championships, and 2 trips to the BCS Championship in that same time span.

So, it is possible to have a hard schedule and win, Michigan just needs to man up.

MGoBlue93 said...

The recent Texas/tOSU home and home shows you can play and lose to a big time BCS team in the non conference portion of the schedule and still be in the hunt come November.

Martin must go!

Why does U of M kiss ND's ass so much? ND isn't the program they think they are (it's almost 'Bama-esque... sorry BiB). ND needs Michigan more than Michigan needs ND.

IamCris said...

It troubles me to find USC fans posting raving about their "brutal" non-conf schedule when they get to play Stanford and Washington every year (while if our memories serve us correctly UW got robbed out of an extra play last year at the end of the game)that could've given SC three losses in the BRUTAL Pac 10. Gosh. Wait till Oregon eats shit in the BigHouse, i've been waiting since '03 for this.

IamCris said...

I'm a tard for even replying to that shithouse flame inducing vulgarity provoking post. Go Blue and bring on the defending National Champs so we can beat someone, Indiana was so long ago.

MGoBlue93 said...

Is it really USC's fault that the Huskies have fallen on hard times and Stanford stinks? Look at every BCS conference. For example, the Big 12 has Baylor and Colorado. The SEC has Kentucky, Vandy, Ole Miss, Miss State. ACC, Duke and NC State, etc.

Every powerhouse has some games against the lower end of the conference and because those are conference games, there's not much which can be done about it.

I'll give props to any AD who goes out and looks for tougher competition. By way of comparison, Martin shuns Auburn and Georgia and gives us ASU and EMU.