This is a topic that's officially up for debate this week: Is Michigan-Notre Dame worthy enough to be considered a national rivalry?
It's going to end next year, the result of Notre Dame moving to a partial Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule starting next season. In fact, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told reporters this morning in Ann Arbor that he won't discuss a resumption of the rivalry in the future with Notre Dame.
"Anyone who says there's going to be a continuation of this rivalry in the near future isn't looking at the football schedules," Brandon declared, noting that Michigan's schedule is booked through at least 2020.
And because of Notre Dame's shift, the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry isn't the only one that might be disappearing, as I examined today in the Blade.
Michael R. Steele has written two books about Notre Dame football, including "The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia," and one thing I asked Steele about the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry: if there’s one thing that the general public doesn’t know about this rivalry - and should know - what should it be?
Steele: "That’s a tough question. There’s been something like a love-hate relationship between Notre Dame and the Big Ten all along. Obviously, with geography, Notre Dame is right in the middle of the Big Ten. It’s within 200 miles of half the Big Ten.
"From my research, back in the 1920s, Notre Dame kept knocking on the door about Big Ten membership. There was some reluctance on part of the Big Ten. None of this was plastered all over newsppaers in the day. Some of it was related to academics. Some of it was related to ethnic issues. Notre Dame, I don’t know if they were smarter or wiser and stoped knocking on the door.
"Most fans probably didn't have an understanding of details that went into original desire for Notre Dame to join the Big Ten. It happened after a 1909 win over Michigan and it left a real sour taste in the mouth of Fielding Yost. That’s how I would see it."
1909 was the first year Notre Dame beat Michigan. 1909 was also an interesting year for Michigan.
I'm hesitant to lump Stanford-Notre Dame in the category of "historic rivalries." Even though it dates back to 1925, the two teams didn't play annually until 1988, and it likely falls under the category of Notre Dame's pursuit of having a more geographic reach. Others are hesitant to lump Michigan-Notre Dame in the category of historic rivalries. While it's been played since 1887, it went on two lengthy hiatuses between 1910 and 1977, and wasn't scheduled for six seasons between 1978 and 2012.
Playing five games in the ACC starting next season, Notre Dame isn't just in pursuit of national exposure. It's also in pursuit of having a tie-in to the College Playoff Series - one in which strength of schedules will be taken into consideration.
"(It's) where we can bring this schedule together in balance and still give us the quality schedule that when the committee looks at a schedule in whole and decides who of those four or maybe down the road eight teams relative to playoffs, that they can look at our schedule and say, that's a deserving schedule," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We have to balance all those things together."