If By “Historic” You Mean “Old,” Then Yes

I think it bears noting that Notre Dame plays Michigan on Saturday and most of the talk has not about been about the game itself. Nor have the pundits and talking-heads bothered, much, to analyze the respective performances, so far, of Irish or Wolverine. Instead, most of the bloviating has revolved around Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly’s remark on Sunday that Notre Dame-Michigan is not an “historic, traditional rivalry” and his disappointing, but clever and nuanced, course-correction on Tuesday in which he labelled the series as “great and historic.”

Now, this all started over the summer when word got out that Notre Dame would opt out of its series against Michigan in favor of its new ACC-heavy schedule. That Notre Dame would not play Michigan immediatley caused the Wolverine’s head coach to label the Irish “chicken,” because, well, his thoughts seem rarely far from the next calorie. And this got me thinking about two things: 1.) what is history when it comes to college football; and 2.) how good is the chicken bonne femme at Arnaud’s?

At the risk of being labeled a Brian Kelly-apologist, let me declare rather loudly that the chicken bonne femme at Arnaud’s is incredible, and as good an historic dish as you will find anywhere in the country. Wait. What? Oh. Right! Though Michigan may lay claim to being our oldest opponent, and, after observing the conduct of Michigan coeds, “hoariest” sounds the most appropriate, they certainly cannot claim to be our most traditional opponent. For, whether one considers total number of games or longevity of the series, Michigan barely bests Georgia Tech. Seriously.

Since the 1880′s, Notre Dame and Michigan have played forty (40) times. In that same span, Notre Dame has played Sparty seventy-six (76) times, Pitt sixty-eight (68) times, Army fifty (50) times, Northwestern forty-seven (47) times, and Georgia Tech, thirty-four (34) times. Do you get that? The Irish have played Northwestern MORE than they’ve played the Wolverines. I’ll happily conceded that Michigan is an old foe, but traditional? Like Mardi Gras or soft-shell crab season? Pffffffffft.

From 1910 through 1969, Notre Dame and Michigan played TWICE, both times in the 1940′s. From 1910 through 1969, Notre Dame played Navy FORTY-THREE (43) times. From 1920 though 1969, Notre Dame played USC FORTY-ONE (41) times. From 1910 through 1969 Notre Dame played Purdzzzzzzz THIRTY-THREE (33) times. So please let’s step back from the ledge of “historic,” given there are more gaps in the Notre Dame-Michigan resume than there are on George O’Leary’s. And considering Notre Dame played Michigan a total of two (2) games in the 1970′s, this kind of puts Mark May in some unique company. Lemme know if y’all find the real killer, brah.

Michigan hasn’t played ten games against the Irish in a decade ever. USC and Purzzzzzzz have each played ten games against the Irish in six decades.

Anyway, Michigan is a huge, regional rival that has become of national importance, probably only thanks to the generations of Notre Dame grads who have gone on to have careers, and cable subscriptions, outside of the Ann Arbor viewing area. All things considered, though, it’s really not surprising that Coach Hoke would have the word “chicken” on his brain when thinking about facing Big Lou, Stephon, Shembo and Ishaq without Shoelaces under center.

  • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

    This. I like this.

    Yeah, Michigan can really go and F* itself. Theyve not been a RIVAL, theyve only been a major pain in the ass. I didnt like dropping them because I do love to hate them, but Im starting to enjoy the consternation our disposal of them is causing their administration, coaching, and fans. It’s quite fun to watch the aftermath. For once, ‘big bad Skunk U’ isnt the one telling the other side to pack it in and dont let the door hit you on the way out.

  • http://gravatar.com/goodmanbluff Mark G

    As has been stated by others on this site, no doubt in a much more articulate manner than mine, Michigan is not a rival – they are an enemy. Michigan tried to smother Notre Dame football in its infancy. A Michigan head football coach that is beloved by their fans led the effort to get Big 10 teams to boycott Notre Dame. Motivated by anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, anti-Irish hate, Michigan did everything it could to eliminate Notre Dame as a rival. Should we move heaven and health to continue to schedule Michigan, rather than our long standing intersectional rivals and those Big 10 teams who bravely bucked the Yost boycott? They must be kidding.

    Let’s just beat them.

  • NDtex

    It’s ok. We are gonna to beat Michigan and the series will be cancelled again. Just like old times!

  • http://gravatar.com/denverirish DenverIrish

    Great article.

    This entire “controversy,” both canceling the series and not considering them a historic rival, shows their pettiness and self-entitlement. They reacted to canceling the series like that crazy girl you dated and tried to break up with, who responded “You’re not allowed to break up with me; I am the one breaking up with you.” The result has to be that they are too good for us, when everyone knows the only reason they are mad is that JS beat them to it so the last game in a long time will be at ND.

    Then they react this week because we don’t think highly enough of them. They are really saying, “How dare you say I’m not good enough to be your historic rival? I mean, you’re, at best, third on our current list, but we should be much higher on your list!”

  • http://gravatar.com/classicshmosby classicshmosby

    New uniform style

    Maybe the wrong place to post this, but I’m eager to find out… was I the only person who noticed/hated the textured jerseys we wore on Saturday?

    Aaaaand…Cue 2012 alum realizing he ALREADY sound old and crotchety…

    • http://gravatar.com/denverirish DenverIrish

      Well, I noticed them. Can’t say I hated them. What I don’t like is that they are the “adidas” uniform, meaning that every team with adidas has the exact same texture, stripe pattern, whatever (e.g., aTm). I haven’t noticed Nike doing this to teams. Adidas needs more creativity.

      • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

        I, too, noticed them and I, too, did not hate them at all.

  • Steve

    I respect usc as a rival; i dont like them, i was there for bush push, but i respect them. But michigan, i hate. Their fans, their city, their team, their coach. A $1million job wouldnt lure me anywhere close to ann arbor or detroit. To hell with michigan.

    This is my favorite nd blog, good work guys.

  • Chuckie

    Yes, “let’s dispense with the nonsense” already.

  • Mike81

    To sprinkle a little gasoline on the fire, someone should check the all-time winning percentages for the two teams. With last season’s 12-1 record, I think the Irish are now within a game or two of passing michigan and recovering the top spot.