Last Saturday’s Michigan and Notre Dame game was one that helped boost the Irish in the eyes of college voters, but we may not be seeing the classic rivalry as regularly scheduled. The Irish have announced that they’re exercised a clause in their game contract that allows them to pull out of the series.
When the two teams agreed to terms and signed an agreement in 2007 that guaranteed the teams would play each other through 2031, but there was a clause in that agreement that allowed either team to opt out with three years advance. The Irish did that today, announcing that games against Michigan that were planned for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons have been canceled.
Notre Dame recently joined the ACC in all sports but football, but experts say it’s a matter of time before the Irish football team becomes a part of the ACC powerhouse.
Adding Notre Dame to the ACC would likely be a move to keep teams like Florida State and Miami in the conference, as there were talks the Seminoles were leaving for the SEC or the Big-12 this summer. Those rumors turned out to be false, but the ACC feared it would begin to lose it’s heavyweights and cease to be a powerhouse conference in the NCAA.
Canceling a block of games against the Wolverines doesn’t bode well for Notre Dame’s relationship with the Big Ten, a conference the Irish were themselves rumored to be moving to this summer during a mass realignment. Michigan’s athletic director Dave Brandon didn’t blast the Irish for their decision, but he didn’t fully endorse or accept the idea either.
“The ball is in their court because they’ve triggered the three-game notice,” Brandon said. “We’ll play them next year at Michigan Stadium for the last time in a while — it appears — and we’ll make our last scheduled trip to South Bend in 2014. There will likely be nothing on the board for five years after that. Beyond that, I don’t know what will happen.”
A move to the ACC in football would mean Notre Dame would have to abide by conference scheduling. Prior to this, they had been independent and could basically make up their own rules. The Irish want to keep their annual games against Navy, Stanford and USC and with conference play now an issue in scheduling, the Irish had to pick and choose which games they wanted to keep on their docket.
Michigan was apparently the odd man out.
There’s no guarantee that the two teams won’t renew their rivalry after the 2017 season, but with no games for a three year period, the Irish have ample time to let the Wolverines know that they are extending their decision. The Irish and Wolverines will meet in 2013 and 2014 with their last meeting occurring in South Bend.