Notre Dame Schedule Snub A Wake Up Call To Michigan Wolverines


Aug 30, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines cheerleaders on the sideline against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Reading Between The Headlines:

Notre Dame’s Choice Of Ohio State Over Michigan Is More Clever Than Coward

The Michigan Wolverines will play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the last time in….forever.  At least that is how it stands right now after Notre Dame refused to schedule anymore non-conference match-ups with the Michigan Wolverines.  Notre Dame and Michigan may end up playing again but due to the changing landscape of college football the rivalry will never be restored to its former luster.

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Tit For Tat

After last seasons 41-30 victory over Notre Dame, the Michigan Stadium public address system played the ‘chicken dance” polka in tribute to the Irish’s apparent refusal to play Michigan beyond 2014.

Notre Dame slapped back by announcing a series of games with Ohio State on the eve of the final game drawing the ire of Michigan fans.

Is Notre Dame’s refusal to play the Michigan Wolverines based on cowardice? Or does Notre Dame no longer consider the Michigan Wolverines football program among the nations elite?  The answer lies behind Notre Dame’s recent announcement of a non-conference series with Michigan’s arch rival the Ohio State Buckeyes.

"“I am excited we are able once again to bring these two programs together on the football field,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a release. “Football games between Notre Dame and Ohio State make great sense from a strength-of-schedule standpoint. In addition, with [Ohio State athletic director] Gene Smith having both played and coached football at Notre Dame — and with [Ohio State coach] Urban Meyer having served as an assistant football coach at Notre Dame — there are some obvious, high-profile connections between our two institutions.”"

Notre Dame’s departure from the rivalry with Michigan has more to do with strength of schedule than anything else.  As an independent football program, the Fighting Irish are solely responsible for filling their schedule.  In order to have a strength of schedule on par with the countries other elite football teams, Notre Dame cannot afford to schedule a key early season match-up with a school that is no longer a perennial top 10 program.

Notre Dame also has other factor’s to consider.  The Irish have a contract with NBC to televise their games. That means Notre Dame is obligated to schedule programs that have a National interest or risk losing a lucrative television deal.

A Fan Base In Denial

While Michigan fans have been ignoring the fact that the Wolverines are no longer an elite program, the rest of the college football world has taken notice. Michigan’s inability to compete for a National Championship, much less a Big Ten Championship makes them a less attractive option to teams looking to boost their strength of schedule.

Or for television networks to boost ratings.

Or for Bowl committees trying to fill stadiums.

Nationally televised games and Bowl invitations are vital to a major college football programs financial survival.

Is losing Notre Dame a precursor to Michigan missing out on other revenue generating opportunities?

Michigan fans should be angered by Notre Dame’s refusal to continue the rivalry and it should serve as a wake-up call .  Michigan Fan’s anger should not be directed at Notre Dame but the Michigan program itself.

Athletic Director David Brandon’s stubborn refusal to admit and correct mistakes made related to his own management style has left Michigan program struggling to maintain National relevance. Without relevance, Michigan runs the risk of losing revenue. Without relevance, Michigan runs the risk of becoming the footnote in the ever-changing modern landscape of college football.