Yes, let's already start to look ahead. Michigan faces Massachussetts this week in a game that's largely considered a tune-up for the annual grudge match against Notre Dame. But could that Notre Dame-Michigan showdown soon be a thing of the past? With Notre Dame announcing a move to join the ACC in all sports except football and hockey (the Irish will remain independent in football and will begin play next fall in Hockey East) and there's likely to be a shift in the Irish's future football schedules.
Once Notre Dame officially leaves the Big East and joins the ACC - and as of right now, that date is unclear - Notre Dame has agreed to schedule five ACC opponents each season and that will likely put a few of the traditional rivalries on hold: Notre Dame-Michigan, Notre Dame-Boston College and Notre Dame-Michigan State.
During a press conference to announce Notre Dame's move to the ACC, per several media reports, athletic director Jack Swarbrick indicated that the football program will maintain its rivalries with USC, Stanford and the Naval Academy, but that Notre Dame could potentially "rotate" its schedule to include Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State. Current annual opponents could go two years on and two years off. Swarbrick: "We haven't gotten to that level of detail yet." (h/t Dennis Dodds of CBS, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune and Pat Forde of Yahoo.com)
Michigan has Notre Dame on its football schedule for the next five seasons, with a two-year hiatus between the two teams in 2018 and 2019 before the series resumes in 2020. That clause was instituted in 2007, when the previous athletic directors at Michgan and Notre Dame agreed to extend the series for 25 seasons.
Here's the rub: both Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and Notre Dame associate athletics director John Heisler said in June that there is no actual written contract between the two schools in relation to scheduling football games, though Heisler said dates have been exchanged in regards to the future of the rivalry. It's almost a gentleman's agreement, if you will. The contract automatically renews for three years after each Notre Dame-Michigan game.
I asked a Michigan spokesperson about the future of scheduling football games against Notre Dame, and while the spokesperson declined to comment directly on the issue - though Brandon told the Associated Press he'd like to see the series resume in 2020 - the understanding is that right now, the ball is in Notre Dame's court as far as the future of the Michigan-Notre Dame football rivalry.