Michigan is first casualty of Domer move to ACC
Notre Dame recently announced its intention to move the bulk of its sports to the ACC, while the football program remained independent. Maintaining football independence came with a pledge to play 5 members of the ACC in each calendar year, which created an obvious situation for the Irish and some of its long-standing rivals.
With the window for scheduling growing smaller, it was inevitable that someone would be the odd man out. Tuesday’s discovery singled out Michigan as that man, with the Domers officially opting out of the agreement and placing the annual series on 3-year hiatus begin in 2015.
Unlike some of the more storied rivalries, Michigan and Notre Dame are no strangers to pause. The two programs first met in 1887, and played twice in 1888. They wouldn’t meet again for 10 years, when the Irish invaded Ann Arbor. The series saw its longest break from 1943-1978, as 35 years passed without a collision on the field. It remained continuous beginning in the ’78 season, and will now fade again in 2015.
USC was one obvious choice to remain on the Notre Dame schedule, with the game being an annual event since 1926. The Trojans and Irish had only a three year disruption during World War II, and have continued to battle without pause since 1946.
Much like USC, the series with Navy (1927) has gone unsevered, with the Irish and Midshipmen even playing through the war. Notre Dame would first play Michigan State in 1887, and the series continued without stoppage since 1948. Purdue has been a constant on the Domers schedule since 1946, with 1896 marking the first game.
Though Michigan and Notre Dame have played to some classic finishes, it’s clear that USC, Navy, Michigan State, and Purdue have the more extensive history with the Irish. But what about Stanford, and the Irish decision to preserve a meeting with the Cardinal and cast the Wolverines aside? Stanford and Notre Dame have met just 26 times, with the series going continuous in the mid-nineties. The opportunity to play another private school with similar academic standards may have played a role in the decision. Or it could be that Athletic Director Jack Swarbick had a personal lean towards the Cardinal, having attended law school and earning a degree in Palo Alto.