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Greg Mattison on Notre Dame rivalry: "This will always be a really big game for me"

After spending eight years in South Bend, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has witnessed both sides of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry.


When it comes to a college football rivalry, not many can say they've experienced the hatred from both sides.

Michigan's defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has.

From 1997-2004, Mattison was a defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Fighting Irish and had a 3-3 record versus Michigan during his time coaching in South Bend. With Michigan, where he had two coaching stints (1992-96, 2011-present) at the same position, currently has a record of 3-2-1. The two teams did not meet during the 1995-96 seasons.

With Saturday's match-up (Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. NBC) looming, the hatred and preparation of the big game doesn't take away from the experience Mattison had living in South Bend.

"This will always be a really big game for me," said Mattison. "My daughter had a great softball career at Notre Dame and got her degree from there. My son grew up right there, we spent eight years living in South Bend. We had a great experience there."

Michigan football has the fortunate opportunity to schedule more than one rivalry game throughout the season. Something that not many other programs say it can do.

Being Midwestern-born (Madison, WI), Mattison had the opportunity to view most of the classic Big Ten rivalries growing up. Even though others could be considered larger and more important, nothing will ever compare to how big the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry was and continues to be.

In Mattison's mind, at least.

"It always is a huge game because forever it's been Michigan and Notre Dame in my mind," Mattison said. "I know there's a team in Ohio too, I understand that. There's a team in Lansing too, I understand that. Growing up, that was football."

With the series between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish ending for the foreseeable future, it is entirely possible that Saturday could be the last time Mattison will face the Irish during his coaching career. Also adding to the uncertainty is disappointment felt throughout the Michigan program.

However, a game still needs to be played Saturday night, it's also an exciting opportunity for the team to showcase what it can do against an opponent that has similar talent levels.

"It's really disappointing that we don't keep that rivalry," Mattison said. "I know in all my years of coaching and being around football there's always that game, it's a big one. Having been apart of it from both sides makes it special.

"I'm really excited about it. I'm really excited for our guys, I'm excited to take this team and taking the next step. It's a big game, no question about it."

Contact Joshua Henschke: or @JoshuaHenschke on Twitter.