Yesterday Notre Dame exercised their option to end their annual rivalry with the Michigan Wolverines. The contract between these two schools is based on a rolling three year basis meaning their last meeting will occur in 2014. Notre Dame and Michigan have met up a total of 39 times in which Michigan has maintained the series lead 23-16. The very 1st meeting between them started all the way back in 1887 which saw Michigan shutout the Irish 8-0.
Its obvious that Notre Dame feels as though keeping Michigan on their schedule does not benefit them for several reasons. Firstly, Notre Dame has signed a contract with the ACC which means they will play a total of 5 ACC teams per year for the forseable future. Also, Notre Dame seems intent on keeping Stanford, USC, and Navy as regularly scheduled games. Notre Dame also has a contract signed with Michigan State that isn’t set to expire until 2031. So in looking over their strength of schedule adding or keeping Michigan is of no consequence.
Neither Michigan nor Notre Dame need each other on their schedule to bolster recruiting. Each are national programs whose reach extends far beyond their respective regions. Additionally Michigan can maintain a solid non-conference slate by playing games just like the game they played against Alabama this year.
So is this a new trend Notre Dame is starting by their decision to end the Michigan rivalry? More than likely yes, with the trend being the possible slow elimination of Big Ten schools that grace the Irish’s schedule. The one team that has not been mentioned is Purdue, which ironically has played Notre Dame the toughest this season. The Boilermakers stand to lose the most if this series is eliminated-mainly because they are a fellow in-state school that can really use the publicity they get from the Notre Dame matchup. Although Michigan State has a contract with Notre Dame until 2031 the possible elimination of their series shouldn’t scare the Spartans much. With the scheduling of Boise State this year and their future games that include 2 year contracts with both Oregon and Alabama, MSU will do just fine without the inclusion of Notre Dame.