Michigan and Notre Dame announced Thursday that their historic rivalry on the football field will resume in 2018 and 2019 while both schools work to play on future schedules, as well.
Here are my initial takeaways from the return:
Cool That It’s Returning, But at what Cost?
It is always an interesting time when the Wolverines and Fighting Irish meet on the field and good for college football when they play each other. With that being said, the rush to get right back into the series does not make a whole lot of sense when you consider what each side is giving up in 2018 and 2019.
For the Wolverines, they give up a home game to Arkansas and pay $2 million to buy out of that match-up in 2018 to head to South Bend. Not only will they play ND on the road, but they will also play Michigan State and Ohio State on the road in that same season, leaving them without a tentpole rivalry game on their home schedule.
Notre Dame finds themselves in a similar situation in 2019 when they head to Ann Arbor. They will also play road games at Georgia and Stanford that season.
Fans will say it does not matter where they play as long as they are, and that is probably true from an on-field standpoint, but it is kind of a weird situation considering that last game in the series took place in South Bend.
Added Buzz to Non-Conference Slate
These are two of the biggest fanbases and two of the winningest programs in college football, so it is a notable game whenever the two meet on the field.
The 2015 season’s non-conference slate of Utah, Oregon State, UNLV and BYU was something different, but still lacked the punch and excitement of what a match-up with Notre Dame usually generates.
Hawaii, UCF and Colorado coming to Ann Arbor this fall combined probably do not add to the hype that a game with Notre Dame would have.
The two sides appear to be working out a way for the series to be annual again, which means some of the other series Michigan has planned for the future with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma could potentially be affected. For entertainment’s sake, here is to hoping the old can be fit in with the new and one of those aspects does not suffer from it.
Notre Dame has scoffed at the idea of joining a conference for years in their conquest to remain independent, but the Big Ten still allows them to come around when they please to play teams in the conference. Some will view this as Michigan bending at the knee for the Irish, but both Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly have been pushing for the series to return and the sides were able to come to an agreement.
Both of the scheduled games could have huge ramifications for the teams depending on the result, and that is okay. Fans should not run from that or be afraid of what could happen. In a world where FCS schools are written checks for millions of dollars to take their beatings and leave, this is a much better alternative to fill a non-conference game slot.
Michigan-Notre Dame is back. We’ll see what happens from here.