It might not fly too well on the handshake circuit, but Brady Hoke‘s dig at Notre Dame for backing out of the Michigan series might not be all that appropriate… considering Michigan asked to take a break first.
Last June news broke that the Irish and Wolverines were going to take a two-year hiatus in ’18 and ’19 created another offseason roar among the two faithful fanbases. And maybe Hoke was too caught up in summer break to remember, but the step away was at Michigan’s request.
Check out this story from last June by the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen:
The announcement Wednesday from Michigan that the Wolverines and ND would be taking a hiatus in 2018 and ’19 only surprised Swarbrick in one respect.
“To tell you the truth, I already thought it had been announced,” the Notre Dame athletic director said. “I was caught off-guard by the fact it was news.
“We got a request from (former Michigan AD) Bill Martin, I want to say three years ago, ‘Would you consider this?’ And I said, ‘Sure, as long we can keep the rivalry going afterwards.’ Checked it off my list and never thought about it again.”
ND and Michigan took a break from each other twice in recent years — in 2000-01 when Texas A&M and Nebraska rolled onto the September schedules, and in 1995-96 when the Irish had a home-and-home with Ohio State.
“(Current Michigan AD) Dave Brandon called to talk about future scheduling,” Swarbrick said, “and the 2018-19 issue sort of surfaced for him for the first time. We had already committed the dates, so hence the announcement.”
Obviously, Notre Dame’s scheduling alliance with the ACC didn’t exist last summer. And the manner that Swarbrick delivered the break-up letter, in a sealed envelope on the field before the Irish and Wolverines were set to do battle is pretty ice cold.
But in case you were wondering, this whole break-up thing was kind of Michigan’s idea, and the strength of this valued rivalry hasn’t exactly been on solid ground for quite some time.
Take for instance this statement from Brandon himself back in 2010:
“We don’t really have a contract right now,” Brandon said in May 2010. “We announced we had kind of reached a meeting of the minds for a 20-year extension with the potential for a two-year hiatus, but that was never codified into a contract. That was what I was handed when I came into the job. So what we’re going to need to do with Notre Dame is sit down and hammer out some specifics.”
Michigan’s official announcement of the 20-year extension back in 2007 said something far different, with then Michigan AD Bill Martin announcing, “We are thrilled that the series between two premier college football programs will continue uninterrupted for the next 25 years.”
What’s it all mean? Who knows. But all of this is just a lovely reminder of how much college football has changed in the last five years.