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Rivalry-gate: Where were you during these fictional games?

Sep 3, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT


It’s not news, but it’s certainly funny.

Brian Kelly did his best to clear the after after his rivalry comments got people all over the place hot and bothered. Opening his weekly Tuesday press conference, Kelly laid it on pretty think when talking about the match-up

“It’s a great and historic rivalry that we’ll be playing this Saturday, so let’s get that out of the way right away so we don’t have to answer any more questions about this rivalry,” Kelly said in his opening statement.  “We’re excited about the game, excited about playing it.  This will be decided by the players on the field and the preparation that goes along with it so we can stick to that and dispense with the nonsense.”



Talking heads everywhere (to be fair, so far mostly on ESPN, who will both broadcast the game and have GameDay in Ann Arbor) are all over Brian Kelly for his dismissive attitude towards the Notre Dame – Michigan rivalry.

Last night during ESPN’s studio show surrounding the Florida State – Pitt game, ESPN’s Mark May talked about how much he enjoyed watching the Irish and Wolverines battle when he was growing up in upstate New York.

Skip Bayless did the same thing on ESPN’s First Take this morning, nearly falling out of his chair that the Irish would back out of a rivalry that Bayless cherished “going back to Bubba Smith.” (Smith is one of Michigan State’s best known college football players.)

The only problem? The Irish and Wolverines were in the middle of one of their thirty-plus year breaks during May and Bayless’s respective childhoods.

As you’d expect, Deadspin was all over it. (May and Bayless)

At this point, this is getting kind of funny and hopefully this will be the end of the artifical outrage. Because nobody wants to hear Bayless discussing some of the real reasons that actually led to this series not being played every year.

  1. kiopta1 - Sep 3, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Drama queens rarely have the facts straight.

    • runners00 - Sep 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      If I could give you fifty million thumbs up here, I would do so. Drama queens rarely have the facts straight.

      We have a lot of teams on our schedule that we annually play. We’ve played Michigan State 75 times, including almost every year since 1959. We’ve played Navy around 85 times, and I believe we’ve played them every year since 1927. We started playing Purdue in the 1890s.

      But Southern California is our rival.

  2. irishpuma - Sep 3, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Keith quick edit “Brian Kelly did his best to clear the after after his ” I am sure you meant clear the ‘air” Just looking out for you brother.

    Hilarious article, and these guys get paid for their nonsense.

  3. mickeyirish9 - Sep 3, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Mark May is such a tool.

  4. blowedout - Sep 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  5. mcirish27 - Sep 3, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    The best comment on the Deadspin article so far:

    “He can’t even think of those epic Notre Dame / South Florida match-ups without being immediately bombarded with childhood memories of his dad hurling empty Bud Lime cans at the family Roku in frustration.”

    • irishair - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      I may have just pee’d in my pants a little bit! :)

      • 1historian - Sep 4, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        thanks for sharing that with us

  6. 9irish - Sep 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Talk about tools, Skip Bayless and the other clown, Smith, make me want to throw something at my television. Look, it’s a big game (makes or breaks somebody’s season) but it’s not Army/Navy or something. They took a break to play OSU in the 90s, nobody went spastic then. It’ll be back.

  7. notthatconfused - Sep 3, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    “Smith is one of Michigan STATE’s best players”. Yep. Definitely tools.

    Why, when I was young, I remember the great games between ND & Michigan featuring Archie Manning and Roger Staubach.

    • irish4006 - Sep 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      I am not that old, but I certainly remember when we won 4 straight games with Peyton Manning.

      • yogihilt - Sep 3, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        I remember those Manning games .. with the Colts, right?

  8. irish4006 - Sep 3, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    This is just how media can take things out of context and make a big deal out of it. The way I read BK’s comment was that it’s not, from Irish point of view, as important as the Navy or the USC series. There is a long history and tradition around those games.

    UM is a great game because of the weight these two programs carry in the CFB world and I am certainly disappointed that it has to go, but when you think about the annual games vs. Navy/USC/Stanford/MSU plus the 5 game commitment with ACC, what other choice do we have? We could probably give Purdue the boot and keep them on, but they are the ones who asked first to skip a couple of years.

  9. 1notredamefan - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Great STUFF Keith!! Love that stuff and the facts that come from real Reporters! as always keep it up and GO IRISH!!!

  10. irishaggie - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    This comes as no surprise. These guys are paid to piss people off and to love the SEC unconditionally. ESPN thrives on off the field stories and boy do they love drama. They spent 48 hours talking constantly about Riley Cooper’s racial slur. They have a bromance with Jadaveon Clowney and Rex Ryan. They have made fun of Tim Tebow for being a virgin, yet they love Jay Z now that he’s also a sports agent. Jay Z throws several racial slurs during rap songs but he’s forgiven and no one says anything. But when Riley Cooper says it, everyone overreacts, and when they do ESPN makes a ton of stories off of it, while cashing in lots of ratings. Half of their daily line ups involve Johnny Manziel, A-Rod, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, and the SEC. To ESPN the SEC is everything, and all others are a bunch scrubs. I’m from Idaho and grew up liking Boise State as well as the Irish. I know Boise State has had limitations and weaker schedules. I know they were never truly worthy of being in the NC hunt, no one needs to tell me that. But Mark May has always bashed on them besides the fact they have wins over Oreon, BYU, Utah, TCU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Washington, and Virginia Tech in recent memory. Their love for the SEC is unreal.

    • papadec - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      espn is the video rag replacement for the scandal magazines at supermarket checkout stands. You might “glance” @ a few pages while waiting on line, but buy one? Nahhhhhhhhh.

  11. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    ESPN manufactures the news. They are the Fox News Channel (that’s right fnc I said it) of the sports world.

    • bbdaines - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      This is way worse than fnc, this is more bottom of the barrel like msnbc.. In fact I am certain that it is a racist conspiracy.

  12. domerboyirish - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid (I’m 46 now) and watching Penn Stae play Nebraska in all of the Big Ten tilts.

  13. domerboyirish - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid (I’m 46 now) and watching Penn State play Nebraska in all of the Big Ten tilts.

  14. dillonbigred - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I remember those battles with the Bump Elliot teams in the 60s. and beating the Big Ten champs in Bo’s first year in 1969 befor uh 300,000, yeah 300,000 in the Big House. Yeah, good memories.

  15. dickasman - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Lets see, unlike mark may, During the fictional games, I was either taking a giant dump or fingerblastin 3 drunken freshman cheerleaders.

  16. footballnut85 - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Hey Mark May And Skip Clueless – can you two spell Duh???

  17. deaconjack - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    There you go again dickasman.

  18. deaconjack - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    There you go again dickasman. I guess you will never change.

  19. goirishgo - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Mark May, Skip Bayless, et al are entertainers not football experts. They’re paid to get ratings not to be correct. I’m not sure why anyone values or cares about anything they say.

  20. irishdodger - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    ESPN makes up these stories. They are the CNN of the sports world.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      Damn straight. What do you think puts more asses in their recliners to watch this drivel? Some vanilla story about ND going to the Big House this weekend or some contrived controversy between Kelly and and all of Michigan fandom? You’re being manipulated irishdodger. I want you to open your window, stick your head outside and yell as loud as you can, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

    • goirishgo - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network airs mostly entertainment programming. The talking heads are actors playing parts – doing their schtick, if you will. Berman is probably the Godfather of this type of programming with his Swami persona and “he could go all the way” catchphrase. Smith is today’s most evolved version of the same.

      The silly banter is designed to elicit emotional responses from viewers. May’s character does a great job of it by appealing to the throngs of ND haters and pissing off ND lovers. Neither ESPN nor May care a bit about whether he is ever right. They care that his “Guy Who Hates ND” character stirs the emotional pot, increases ratings and, by extension, drives advertising revenue. And it’s working.

      Jerseyshore, I love the “Network” reference. These panel-type shows really are cleverly manipulative a la that film. My guess, though, is that May sees himself more aligned with Russell Crowe’s character in The Gladiator shouting to the Coliseum throng, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

      On a related note, has anyone ever seen Guy Fieri cook anything? He’s made millions by eating burgers and talking about it!

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        Yeah I hate that effing guy too.

  21. yaketyyacc - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    If Notre Dame played St Joe High school, Mark May would pick St. Joe. He always has this “friendly” banter with Lou Holtz, that reminds one of a cat that is purring while its tail is going swish swhish.
    I do not hear what Mark May says, because when he opens his mouth, I exercise my right and hit the “mute” button.
    BUT on sat. Notre Dame is not playing Mark May or Espn. The Irish are engaging the puppyines of Michigan. remember to bring your “pistol”. Go Irish!

  22. bernhtp - Sep 4, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    This is a simple case of “she’s way more into me than I was into her.” Michigan is some Play-Misty-For-Me psycho stalker that Swarbrick rightly decided to put some distance between. And Jack did it with panache – handing the envelope containing the termination notification just minutes before the game deadline. Great bitch smack.

    • irish4006 - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      I disagree, bern. I think this was handled poorly by Jack, who is otherwise an expert negotiator and a smooth operator.

      It was probably because they didn’t make that decision until the very last minute (which makes sense since we are talking UM here and you don’t just drop them as you please) and ran out of time to deal with it in a more politically correct way.

      • bernhtp - Sep 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        The deadline was known for a long time and I imagine that the envelope was prepared long before it was delivered. It is quite possible they were exploring/negotiating other options when time ran out and had no choice by hand over the envelope. In any event, I personally like the way it was handled. Muck Fichigan.

      • irish4006 - Sep 4, 2013 at 7:58 PM

        Yeah, what I meant by “didn’t make that decision” is that it wasn’t final until they ran out of time to do things differently.

        On a side note, I love to shove it down someone’s throat as much as (or maybe more than) the next guy, but people do take notice of such things and you tend to lose credibility/respect in the long run. Besides, we are ND. Aren’t we supposed to always take the high road?

  23. 1historian - Sep 4, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I have a sneaking feeling that Kelly started this whole thing just as a joke to see how it would play out.

    And that he’s laughing his ass off at how it did play out

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