God bless Brady Hoke.
During a time of year where just about anything counts as college football news, the Michigan head coach provided some real bulletin board material and ratcheted up a Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry that will be coming to a temporary end after the 2014 season.
“We are fortunate to have unbelievable rivalry games at Michigan,” Hoke said at a booster luncheon in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they’re chickening out of, but…” Hoke said, before being interrupted by applause, and pausing to appreciate the verbal haymaker he landed.
“They’re still gonna play Michigan State, they’re gonna play Purdue, but they don’t want to play Michigan. So… ” Hoke continued to an approving crowd. “I don’t know how they made that decision. I really do. But anyway, that’s a great national rivalry game. It’s a great game.”
It didn’t take long for Hoke’s comments to go viral, and we’ve got a YouTube video of the speech below. It also likely served Hoke’s purpose to poke a little fun at Notre Dame, who coming off a 12-1 season and an appearance in the national championship game, hold quite a bit more momentum than the Wolverines do after a disappointing 2012 campaign ended with five losses after opening the season ranked in the top ten.
There are plenty of points worth noting about the future of the Irish-Wolverines match-up, Notre Dame’s upcoming scheduling conflicts, and the alleged death of a rivalry. For Michigan fans, Hoke’s call out was music to their ears. For Irish fans, pointing out the murders row of Michigan non-conference games, which include games against Central Michigan, Akron, Appalachian State, and Miami (Ohio) in the next two seasons, probably serves as a worthy counterpoint if we’re discussing chickening out.
One interesting point to note is that Hoke’s comments all but guarantee that Michigan will honor their visit to South Bend in 2014, a game that some thought athletic director Dave Brandon would drop with the Big Ten changing to nine-game conference schedule in 2014.
Until then, this will throw a little bit more gas on the fire in a growing rivalry between Hoke and Brian Kelly, a head-to-head match-up that has seen Hoke’s teams win just once (2011) in five attempts against Kelly.
In case you were wondering, Notre Dame plays under the lights in Ann Arbor on September 7.