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Notre Dame to halt series with Michigan after 2014 — UPDATED

Sep 25, 2012, 11:57 AM EDT

Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

News broke this morning from an Associated Press report that Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick exercised an out-clause in the contract between Notre Dame and Michigan to halt the series with the Wolverines after the 2014 season.

That’s three years earlier than planned, when Michigan asked to take 2018-2019 off from the rivalry that was renewed in 1978 and has played annually since 2002. The shift is the first domino to fall after Notre Dame’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

From Larry Lage’s AP report:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Notre Dame has notified Michigan it is exercising a three-year out in their contract, meaning their last scheduled game against each other will come in 2014.

A letter from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon cancelling games in 2015-2017 was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

There’s been no comment out of South Bend, but Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon was quick to confirm the story.

“The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame’s and not ours,” Brandon said in a statement. “We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series. This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries.”

With Notre Dame’s future schedule anchored to five games against ACC opponents, Swarbrick has discussed the challenges of building a schedule in the future. He’s held firm to the Irish’s commitment to playing annual games against Navy, and continuing to keep a West Coast presence, with annual match-ups against USC and Stanford filling that role. Long standing rivalries with Michigan State and in-state Purdue also hold importance to many, and while Michigan is thought of as a traditional Notre Dame rival, the reality is that the teams have played 40 times, with over a quarter of those games coming before 1943.

Notre Dame will play in Ann Arbor on September 7, 2013 and then Michigan will visit South Bend on September 6, 2014.

UPDATE — More information is coming to light on the timing of the decision, including Dave Brandon’s acknowledgment that he received word of the decision from Jack Swarbrick in an envelope on the field before the game on Saturday. According to an AP report, the letter included the following explanation from Swarbrick:

“While this move is a necessary precaution as we begin the process of meeting our new scheduling commitment to the ACC,” Swarbrick wrote in his letter to Brandon, “please know that Notre Dame very much values its relationship with Michigan. (We) look forward to working with you to ensure that our great football rivalry can continue.”

Swarbrick’s letter is dated a day before the schools met on the field and cites last year’s contract.

“Because I am providing you with this notice prior to the commencement of this year’s football game on September, 22, 2012,” Swarbrick wrote, “there is no liability to Notre Dame for cancelling those games.”

Notre Dame senior associate athletic director John Heisler released Notre Dame’s reaction to the story.

“Our contract with Michigan has an automatic rollover provision — with a year being added each time a game is played. We needed to avoid the automatic addition of additional games until we can get a better understanding of our available inventory in those years – an understanding that will develop as we implement our five-game scheduling commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference.”

  1. bernhtp - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Purdue, Michigan State and Navy are longer rivalries. Michigan has become more important recently because they have been a more successful team.

    However, I don’t know if Notre Dame will every fully get over its bad history with Michigan, who blackballed Notre Dame from midwestern competition largely due to its Catholic/immigrant character. Ironically, this was the genesis of Notre Dame’s national program and independence that we cherish to this day.

    • papadec - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      bern – thanks for the history lesson – it explains a lot.

  2. irishsox05 - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Is there any benefit playing 2 Michigan Big Ten schools anymore?…Nope.

  3. nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    I don’t care about Michigan. Some great games with them, absolutely. And all things being equal, we’d continue to play them. But my history goes back to the early Parseghian years, and many here seem to forget UM was nowhere to be found on ND’s schedule back then.

    They have far less significance from a tradition perspective than Navy or USC. After those two, gotta’ keep Stanford or some other CA school on the schedule.

    One other thing: For recruiting purposes, this is actually a GOOD thing. ND already competes toe to toe with UM in the Midwest; now they can be replaced with FSU or Clemson or GA Tech, and most agree that the best HS football talent in the country comes from the southeast.

    I rate my heartburn at seeing UM go at about a 2.7 level, on the proverbial 10 pt scale.

    • bernhtp - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      I agree. Northwestern was our third Big Ten opponent during the Parseghian era. We don’t have the tradition with Michigan that we have with others, and some of the tradition we have with Michigan is just bad.

      We can put Michigan on our schedule every once in a while, but there is no need to indulge them every year.

    • NotreDan - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      Agree too. I’ve been thinking about the ACC deal, and you know, I think it will do the ND program a ton of good. Get some new opponents in there. The Big 10 is usually pretty brutish (in a bad way) and I think playing teams that participate in more than a slug-fest can help us.

      I think Swarbrick is a pretty savvy guy, and I think he has a long term plan that now includes the right coach.

  4. mtndguy - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Here’s to closing out the series with Michigan with two more wins.

    • midwestmd - Sep 26, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      ND will still have a losing record vs Michigan. ND #2 in wins and winning %. Michigan #1 in both.

      • 9irish - Sep 27, 2012 at 12:23 AM

        Alot of that goes wayyyyyyy back though (like pre-Rockne) since 1979 it’s almost 50/50 (I think ND is a little bit ahead…past 3 years didn’t help).
        It’s not a big deal to me…they’ve taken breaks before (Ohio State and Nebraska, I think), so just because it’s not going to be an annual deal, I’m sure that they will get into a home-away series every few years. ND is just kind of clearing the slate for the moment while they figure out the new schedules. They still have so much lee-way in the schedule even with the 5 ACC games, so it will be interesting.

  5. packhawk04 - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    When you need 6 turnovers at home to squeak out a 7 point win, time to play someone else.

    • irish91088 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      You must have forgotten that we had 5 turnovers last year at UM and you all won on a last second play. Idiot!

    • irish91088 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      Also, I heard Brady Hoke shutgunned 6 twinkies after the game, 1 for every turnover….yummy

    • runners00 - Sep 25, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      When you turn the ball over 6 times in a loss (including five straight passes), you should be embarrassed (and should stay away from the opponent’s blogs).

  6. North of Denver - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Hoo-ey. I am from the Holtz years when USC was a speed bump and UM was the rivalry of the year. The ND-UM game continues to be the 2nd best rivalry game of the year (KA: that’s why there was so much hyped-anticipation for this game) . Navy is a tradition (a tradition that should continue), not a rivalry. After sanctions take place and USC is relegated to a mid-tier PAC-10 team, ND won’t have a good solid rivalry game. I don’t like this at all. For the first time, I am disappointed in Swarbrick.

    KA: Looking at the numbers differently, we’ve played UM 29 of the last 34 years. That’s a tradition and a rivalry we shouldn’t have let go.

    • papadec - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      North – the past 34 years isn’t even 30% of ND’s 125 year history of football. Michigan did introduce football to ND – and gets some gratitude points for that. BUT, read the stuff @ bernhtp (above) – they are no friend of ND, and they dropped the games in 2017 & 2018. Time to move on.

      • chicagoirish23 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        North of Denver – It doesn’t matter how good or how bad USC is, that’s always the number one rivarly.

      • North of Denver - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        Papa – Ok, I went back and read it. Still, for those of us who were born since Rockne’s era, UM is a traditional rivalry that both ND and UM should have kept.

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        Who would you have them drop instead? If you say “MSU” or “Purdue”, my guess is that’s coming.

        They have to clear some space for the ACC teams, and from a recruiting standpoint, there’s better football – at all levels – being played in FL, GA, SC, NC. etc.

        I’m a native Chicagoan; grew up on ND and Big 10 football
        I’m biased in the BIg 10’s favor, if anything. I hate the SEC and the entire region football wise, academic wise and politically for that matter.
        But the time has come to move this thing in another direction.
        The Midwest and the Big 10 just are NOT on the same level as the southeastern US anymore from a talent standpoint

        Things change

    • North of Denver - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Purdue, MSU.

      The fact that UM and ND have the highest winning percentage among major colleges won’t change (at least for a while). This alone, makes them natural rivals, regardless of what happened in the first half of the last century.

      Chicago: there’s a difference between a tradition and a traditional rival. Navy is a tradition. USC and UM are traditional rivals; you’re right USC is the #1 traditional rival.

      • papadec - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:48 AM

        North – check out Keith’s update to the original article he posted. I’m fairly certain we’ll see a renewal of the ND/UM games in the future – probably sooner than most of us think. It just may be a change to odd/even year home games – depending on the ACC game schedules. I think we all need to be patient & see what happens in the ACC – they have to work Pitt & CUSE into ACC schedules too.

    • ttirish - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:59 PM

      I guess I’m just old school. ND football has always revolved around victories over Michigan, Michigan State and USC. But isn’t Florida State in the ACC? That might soothe me.

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Aw shucks, that means only two more opportunities to thump their asses. Will be sad to see them go…..always was a good game.

  8. dudeacow - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Does this mean that we take a break from 15-18 or do we just stop playing them entirely?

    • dudeacow - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Nevermind, I meant 15-19 but now I see there won’t be a series at all. I guess we will play them off and on, but would much rather cancel the Purdue game instead of Michigan.

  9. sinister23 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Wow…what a classy school to root for…cancel all your big games and maybe scheduel the Rice Owls, RIGHT 9IRISH

    • chicagoirish23 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      Notre Dame is only one of three schools never to play a D2 school. The other two are UCLA and USC. Michigan lost to Appalachian State.

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:16 PM


        Hey … wanna’ here something cool about sinister?
        So does Mrs. sinister

      • NotreDan - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        I do. I have a feeling he’s my asshole neighbor that drinks too much, shoots off fireworks in October, and has both a romney and UM sign on his porch.

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM

        Also …
        Owns 6 guns and has a weathered bumper sticker that says “America: Love it or Leave it”

      • NotreDan - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        is he YOUR neighbor too??

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        Well, you have to understand, living in AZ there’s no shortage of clowns like this.
        So yes, in a manner of speaking he’s my neighbor

        Favorite Book: The Turner Diaries
        Favorite TV Show: Anything with Hannity on it
        Least Favorite Show: Anything without Hannity
        Preferred Wardrobe: White robe and hood
        Biggest regret: Not being old enough to have personally derailed the Civil Rights Act

      • NotreDan - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:59 PM

        We gotta talk….

  10. yaketyyacc - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    dropping Michigan. hey, I’m still upset t hat ND dropped Harvard Prep School and Albion. and the nerve of Rockne and Dorais to come up with the forward pass, and Rockne that shift with four clidesdales, or the worse, going co-ed.
    looking back all those changes proved to be a leap forward. Once the Ivy League ruled, then the Big Ten dominated, and the young wipersnppers from the west coast, the Pac 10. Now, the SEC, and maybe with our entrance into the ACC, another shift is about to take place.
    Remember when the NFL was the NFC, and no one was for the new AFC. Who even remember that or cares. Forward, always forward.
    But, listen, for those mired in the past, I’ve got a couple of covered wagons you can buy cheap.

  11. bernhtp - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Regarding the update, I absolutely love Swarbrick. Not only is he a great strategist and negotiator, but giving the letter right before the game shows a lot of panache.

    • papadec - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:23 AM

      bern – I think the letter was a mere formality, following phone conversations beforehand. I don’t think Swarbrick would blindside any other AD – he’s too much of a gentleman for that. I also think ND will have UM on the schedule again, once the ACC schedule is formalized. In general to others – ND is playing three (3) ACC opponents this year (Miami, BC, Wake Forest). Also Pitt (moving from Big East to ACC. Does anyone really believe AD Blanton received a hand delivered letter from Swarbrick – and didn’t read it until Sunday? C’mon – he knew what was in the letter.

    • midwestmd - Sep 26, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      Classless move. Wait until the last moment and then hand a letter off with no time to discuss it. Enjoy the #2 in wins and winning %. Michigan is still #1 in both.

  12. sinister23 - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Nudeman, i gotta admit that was a good one!! Lol
    But you dont have to call her Mrs. Sinister….shes still your daughter

    • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      My daughter is 11
      Nice; one more thing to add to the indictment

    • NotreDan - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      yep, that’s him, my neighbor used to hit on my daughter when she worked waiting tables.

  13. smurphdoggy29 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    4-0 Check
    2 weeks to recover Check
    Props to Manti Check
    Ended UM’s luckiness Check
    Championship Defense Check
    Quality depth Check
    Pass Catchers Blowing up
    Coach Kelly’s foundation taking hold Check
    Haters Hating Check
    Notre Dame fans in a tizzy Check (Tizzy both positive and negative mind you)
    Time to kick back and enjoy til 10/6 Check

    GO Irish !
    Beat the wind and rain makers !
    God Bless Teo and his family and friends, excellent job Notre Dame Nation in showering him with love and support, made me choke up !

  14. bearcatirishfan - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Does anyone lose think that joke has an annoyingly high pitched voice? Don’t know about him as a coach but got think that voice would wear you out by season’s end.

  15. zorichmidriff - Sep 25, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Knew this was coming. Would much rather drop PU or Stanford, but I know, I know, recruiting… In the end this is, as Kelly says, “white noise.”

    Let’s talk about more pressing issues, like our pathetic offense (queue: OMG YOU HATE THE IRISH BLATHER).

    • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      I”m guessing they’ll be dropped too. Maybe an occasional game with each, every other year.
      No big loss
      Purdue hasn’t been relevant since LeRoy Keyes

      • bernhtp - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:09 PM

        They’ve had lots of good players like Drew Brees and Mark Herman, but few really good teams.

      • nudeman - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:12 PM

        He beat them 3 straight times in the 60s, I think

      • zorichmidriff - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM

        Man, I’d love to drop PU. What a nothing game that is. I’d rather play another Academy than PU. Can we swap PU for Army? Hell, that’s better than Wake too.

  16. ndnut - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    I’d rather drop Purdue. From a recruiting perspective, kids in Indiana know ND exists and don’t need to see us kick grass against Purdue to know we are better than them. Nobody stopped going to the University of South Dakota when South Dakota State moved up and dropped them. Same non-issue at Augustana College and other various schools in Minnesota (St. Cloud State, MSU-Mankato). So we could play
    5 ACC games
    and call it good.

    • papadec - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:37 AM

      ndnut – you need two more games in there – probably teams like Okla & Texas played @ neutral SW sites for regional recruiting.

  17. masalaswag - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Swarbick is pretty quick and decisive. ACC decision came out and it wasn’t a long wait for this one.

    • papadec - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:33 AM

      masala – I think this has been in the works for awhile – explaining games vs Maryland & Wake Forest (both ACC teams).

  18. ttirish - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Rotate Northwestern, Purdue and Michigan. Michigan every other year. Northwestern every 3 and Purdue once every 5. The folks in those areas really like those games. I’m a west coaster but think the Big 10 should be kept as a rival conference.

  19. thegloriousone - Sep 26, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    Who cares? Watching these two has been programs play every year is like watching two old fat women mud wrestle.

  20. bernhtp - Sep 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Here a Michigan guy seeks to blackball Notre Dame from midwest competition yet again. Meh. How did that work last time?

    What the imbecile also doesn’t understand is that Michigan had already ended the series; Notre Dame just changed the time table to its advantage. Swarbrick will renegotiate any new series with Michigan more to Notre Dame’s advantage.

    • nudeman - Sep 26, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      Actually I don’t think UM ended it; I think they asked to take a two year break.
      Still, who cares? This is done and there’s not much more to say

      Can someone please get arrested or caught cheating on a gym exam?
      Need some new mat’l here

      • bernhtp - Sep 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        Notre Dame’s announcement is also a “break.” It will ultimately be resumed, at least sporadically.

        I’ll pass on the cheating, but would love to see a top recruit commit. Or, Slaughter’s miraculous Achilles healing after a visit to the Grotto.

      • nudeman - Sep 26, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        I swear I saw something recently that indicated Collinsworth is a POSSIBILITY to still play this year. Have you – or has anyone else – seen that?

        The original plan was to give him a med red, but now with Slaughter and Lo Wood down, I bet they’d like to have him back.


      • bernhtp - Sep 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        I doubt that anything has materially changed with respect to how they treat Collingsworth here. I imagine that once he is ready – really ready to play and significantly contribute – they will see if they really need him vis a vis some combination of how the young guys are doing and how is the team doing. If he isn’t ready, or isn’t really needed, or the team isn’t in a position to materially benefit, they will keep the red shirt on. The stars would really need to align for that to change, IMO.

        BTW, there are no gym exams at Notre Dame, other than the swim test. Each freshman (for many decades) must take a mandatory gym class that is non-credit and pass fail for both semesters. You pass if you show up every day (mine was 8:00am, ugh!). If you missed three or more, you need to make them up or retake the class next year – a pass is a graduation requirement. My roommate overslept a few times and I needed to play racketball with him a bunch of times at the end of spring semester for him to pass.

        Everyone starts with the swim test in their first week. If you don’t show reasonable proficiency, your first quarter of gym is a swimming class. Otherwise you get to play other sports.

      • nudeman - Sep 26, 2012 at 1:34 PM

        Please don’t mention “swimming” and “school” in the same sentence again
        In HS, we had to do swimming class nude. And no, it wasn’t a co-ed school

        Really don’t think I’ve ever gotten over that. You’d think I’d have chosen a different screen name

      • don74 - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        LOL about the swimming. Was that way at ND until coed.

      • bernhtp - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        No, swimsuits were always worn. No nude swimming in Notre Dame pools even before coed, though I do fondly remember some past-midnight skinny dipping with some SMiC chicks.

    • papadec - Sep 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM

      bern – the guy is really a massive idiot. He wants to schedule more weak teams, and an occasional very good team, and he thinks that will help UM? I guess it would help maintain their #1 position in total wins and winning %. He should look at scheduling the Ivy League with his rationale. OR, maybe the Patriot league?

  21. fitz79 - Sep 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    I admit I have mixed feelings about this news. As an ND fan, of course, I hate Michigan. We all do. But I think that hatred goes a long way each and every year motivating us to whip Michigan’s you know what…It’s a rivalry that always provides a good game but I understand it’s time to move on with the ACC connection. I just hope the replacement team will be another quality opponent who is consistently in the top 25 year in and year out like the hated Wolverines. Go Irish (whoever you play)!

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