Enough is enough already. The whole conversation is getting ridiculous. This "discussion" about whether or not Michigan and Notre Dame are rivals is getting distorted and twisted into whatever people want to make it- as usual.
This debate has gone on for quite a long time, but it really got going last season when it was announced that Notre Dame wanted to discontinue the series. Add Brady Hoke's "chicken" statement during the offseason, and throw in a cup of Kelly's comments that this series was not a "historic" and "national" rivalry, and now you have a recipe for something that rises in the oven, but falls flat once you are ready to eat.
I should take this slowly, since reading comprehension is a problem for some people.
I shouldn't be too harsh on some of those people. After all, the term "rival" has a definition that basically could describe every team that lines up against another, and in this day and age of sensationalistic headlines and over the top storytelling that pushes aside fact for entertainment; people are not only confused, but brain-washed.
So, who are Notre Dame's rivals? Ask an alumnus and the response that you'll get the most is that USC is Notre Dame's one and only real rival. Sure, you might get the occasional inclusion of Michigan State, Purdue, Navy, and even Michigan, but at the very least, I think we can all agree that Notre Dame's biggest rival is Southern Cal.
In a college football world that is so compartmentalized by conferences, it's hard for people to fathom the uniqueness of Notre Dame. People want to peg every team that Notre Dame regularly plays as a "rival." This is why Boston College and Stanford get thrown into the mix as well. Hell, now we're looking at a schedule of 7 or 8 rivals. Yeah… that's not legit, at all.
Where is all of this angst coming from? Short memories and Michigan playing the victim better than Jaime Lee Curtis in Halloween. Seriously, an Oscar might be in order for the University of Michigan for their role in "OH MY GOD NOTRE DAME IS LEAVING ME FOR NO REASON AND THEY MUST BE SCARED TO PLAY US." (Back story to the main character: Michigan is bipolar).
Let's take just a little bit further of a stroll down memory lane about the demise of this series. Michigan asked out of the series first in the summer of 2012. The games scheduled for 2018 & 2019 were canceled, and there were only little waves made of it all. Michigan wanted to play other opponents- far lesser opponents. But hey, that was OK. I mean, a team in a major conference in this day and age has to do what it has to do with all this realignment and increased number of conference games, right?
Flash forward to the fall of 2012, and Notre Dame does the same for 2015-2017 games. Notre Dame had to make adjustments for a deal that would now have 5 ACC teams on the schedule and they were adding Texas. Somehow, that makes Notre Dame afraid to play Michigan. Notre Dame is afraid to play Michigan, so they schedule the meek and mild Texas Longhorns. Yeah, somehow that just keeps getting glossed over.
Brian Kelly was right when he said the ND / Michigan series was not a great historic and national rivalry, and I was displeased when he recanted in today's press conference. The keywords being "historic" and "national." This game is on the same level as Texas A&M and Texas- oh wait… that's done too.
If Michigan wants to continue to play the victim, it needs to look at the real attacker in the situation and it isn't Notre Dame. Michigan merely needs to look at its own conference and itself. Perhaps if Michigan had allowed Notre Dame to join the Big 10 when the Irish wanted in, many many years ago, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Perhaps if Michigan would have been willing to schedule Notre Dame during the Yost era, instead of cancelling the series and lining up the other schools in the Midwest to not play the Irish, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Perhaps if the Big 10 didn't help create the insane frenzy of conference realignment that forced many schedule changes elsewhere, ended rivalries elsewhere, and increased conference games within the Big 10 as well as in other conferences… we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Sorry Michigan, but a skunk crying "wolf" is as absurd as the amount of Michigan apparel sold at Wal-Mart.
Jim Delaney and the rest of the Big 10 were looking to force Notre Dame's hand into joining the conference. As it turned out, the Irish extended their hand to a much better fit, and in the process will leave not only Michigan, but possibly either Purdue or Michigan State- or both.
The Notre Dame brand is a "national" brand and has no business in playing 7 or more games in the Midwest. This is the business reality that many can't comprehend or want to comprehend.
As to who Notre Dame's rivals truly are, I have a much more fluid opinion. I was born in 1978, and in my 35 years, I have always considered the Notre Dame / Michigan game to be a rivalry game. It's what I grew up watching (you hear that Mark May?). But honestly, I usually leave it up to the players who actually play the game to decide.
If y'all don't think Michigan and Notre Dame a rivalry y'all crazy!!! It's always game!
— Kapron Lewis-Moore (@KLM_89) September 3, 2013
I'll call it a rivalry. I won't call it a "great and historic, national rivalry" because it's not. People want to take sides, and when one side plays the victim, the victim gets the benefit of the doubt. I am a little sad that it will be over (for a time I imagine), and i always looked forward to this week. I love to hate, and what's not to hate about Michigan?
The Notre Dame and Michigan game is as much of a rivalry as the Miami and Penn State series in the 80's and early 90's. Great, but gone. In Penn State's case, it was the Big 10, once again, that was a major reason why the series ended. Notre Dame values its independence and it's ability to control itself, as opposed to others that take orders. This isn't arrogance. This is the American dream, to be your own boss. And sometimes, just sometimes, the boss has to do what is best for the company and cut loose ends where it sees fit.
This isn't a story about "playing chicken." This is a story about a school and a fanbase that has been "crying wolf" to the media and the media has gobbled it up like the last pair of Michigan Zubaz pants at the Flint Wal-Mart by Michigan Man Joe. This isn't about whether or not this game is a rivalry, it's about big business in college athletics and those who feed the monster, while cursing at it. Sounds ridiculous to me, but this is what college football has evolved into, and it will only get weirder.