Some of the biggest moments in Michigan football over the last decade have happened during the annual rivalry game with Notre Dame. I can remember being in the stands for the 38-0 drubbing Michigan put on the Irish in 2003, and I was there when it happened again in 2007. The 2006 game (Brady Quinn's Yakety Sax Extravaganza) was the game in which Michigan really announced itself as a serious contender.
Of course there were losses too. Michigan lost back to back games in 2004 and 2005, and again in an ugly 2008 game that was over nearly before it started. All three games stung badly in different ways.
Tate Forcier's career highs are encapsulated almost entirely in the 2009 Notre Dame game, and two of Denard Robinson's best moments came in the 2010 and 2011 games. Even the 2012 game helped launch Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend story as he supposedly skipped her funeral because she would have wanted him to play.
So there you go: thrilling upsets; lopsided, cathartic cakewalks; dead girlfriend hoax stories; Charlie Weis looking like an ass. What more could you ask from a rivalry?
Apparently something, as Notre Dame has been moving away from the Michigan rivalry since a scheduling agreement was started between the Irish and the ACC, something that will increase Notre Dame's number of games with ACC teams and cut out room for other rivalries. The teams were already scheduled to take a break in 2017 and 2018, but John Swarbrick delivered the notice he was cutting the series short before last year's game, as stipulated in the rolling three year agreement between the two teams.
Notre Dame will keep playing USC (of course), and Michigan State. Even Purdue made the cut. Why not Michigan? According to Hoke:
"The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they're chickening out of...They're still gonna play Michigan State, they're gonna play Purdue, but they don't want to play Michigan," Hoke continued. "I don't know how they made that decision ... I really do ... But anyway, that's a great national rivalry game. It's a great game."
While I can abide any rhetoric that gets down on Notre Dame, this is probably more of a matter of convenience and tradition than a turn-tail move. Michigan and Notre Dame have taken long breaks in their series before this one, so it certainly won't be off the table forever. Still, I'm with Brady that it is disappointing given not only A) all the great moments the series has provided in the last decade, but B) that both teams seem to finally be trending back upwards again, which could have led to some great games that actually meant something on a national scale (sorry, every year but 2006 and 2012 basically).
It was a good run, but hey guys, at least we get to replace it with annual games against Rugters and Maryland.