Reports: Irish and Miami set for 2012, 2014, 2016

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After nearly 20 years, one of college football’s best rivalries is returning. There are reports out today that Notre Dame and Miami will renew their rivalry in 2012, starting a three game series with a date at Solider Field in Chicago, followed by home-and-home games, played in 2014 and 2016.

The Chicago Tribune was the first to report that negotiations were nearly complete, but the three-game series has been in the works for over a year. Back in March of 2009, the Miami Herald reported that Jack Swarbrick and Miami AD Kirby Hocutt were discuss a three-game series.

Here’s what the Herald wrote then, courtesy of Blue-Gray Sky:

After a nearly two-decade break, Notre Dame athletic director Jack
Swarbrick said the Fighting Irish is ”very interested” in playing
Miami again in football, and the interest is mutual.

UM’s Kirby
Hocutt initiated talks with Swarbrick, who became Notre Dame’s athletic
director in July. No dates are set, but talks will resume in April,
Swarbrick said by phone Monday.

NBC’s Notre Dame contract
includes seven Irish home games and one prime-time neutral site game
annually through 2015. ”You could do that,” Swarbrick said of the
neutral site game, “plus do one home and home.”

It looks like that’s exactly what Swarbrick and Hocutt did, and now some much needed energy is infused into the Irish schedule. This is more concrete evidence that the Irish are adapting their schedule to fit a more realistic 6-5-1 model, after it’s been clear that Kevin White’s 7-4-1 construct was fatally flawed. While many have been after Swarbrick for his inability to fix the 2010 slate, he’s worked aggressively — and behind the scenes — to get games like this done. 

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better 2012 schedule than what the Irish are rolling out right now. Opening the 2012 season in Dublin against Navy. Dates with Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona State and now Miami throughout. That’s the kind of true national schedule an independent team can play when an athletic director and a university begin to flex their muscles.

(As a response, expect news to leak from Jim Delany that the Big Ten is now looking to expand to 24 teams, swallowing the best four teams in the Pac-10, ACC, and Big East, and possibly Texas as well. Will that finally force the Irish to join?)