Dear Brady Hoke, Notre Dame and Michigan Is Not a “National” Rivalry

The last time Brady Hoke spoke about Notre Dame, he was pandering to Michigan alumni by calling the Irish “chicken” for cancelling the series with Michigan. At today’s B1G media days, Hoke has transitioned from attempts at humor to just being flat-out factually wrong:

My reaction:

First off, let’s place the whole “is Michigan really a rival?” debate to the side for a minute. Simply put, regardless of our stance here at HLS, there are plenty of people that still view this as a rivalry. It’s debated because there are some solid points on both sides.

Notre Dame/Michigan being a “national” rivalry is not one of them.

The game itself is the very definition of a regional rivalry. The Game between Ohio State and Michigan is also a regional rivalry as is the Iron Bowl, a regional tilt between two Alabama schools.

Now is there national interest in those games? You bet. ND/Michigan will be no exception this year as this will be the last dance between the two for quite a while just as the last tilt between 6-4 Texas and 6-5 Texas A&M was in 2011.

In the end, only Longhorn and Aggie fans really cared about the end result. Everyone else tuning in simply could throw out snark in one direction or the other should they wish. The same will be true for both the Irish and the Wolverines.

National attention does not a national rivalry make. So what is a national rivalry? Try Notre Dame and Southern Cal. Those are two schools have quite a bit more distance between them than the “nation” of Indiana and Michigan. As a bonus, the two have played each other far more often (85 meetings compared to 41).

But go ahead and keep thinking that this game will really matter in the future to anyone else besides ND and Michigan fans, Hoke. Keep that fresh in your mind as you’re forced to play divisional foes Maryland and Rutgers annually while the Irish are playing true national games of importance against Texas and Georgia. You can thank Delany for your scheduling handcuffs then, not ND.

Now for the second erroneous point: that the series is over. No it isn’t. It’s just over for now.

I’m sure by the time that ND and Michigan face off again, you won’t be there Hoke. Hell, I’m not even sure David Brandon will be there at this rate. That doesn’t mean this series is over.

More than any other rivalry series, ND and Michigan have by far seen the most breaks that I can think of off the top of my head (most of them by Michigan’s choice, but hey, minor details). The series has always managed to come back. It will come back again when your conference commissioner starts to realize handcuffing all B1G schools with a nine game watered-down conference schedule is a terrible idea as the lack of flexibility kills your out-of-conference scheduling (your fellow B1G schools, Michigan State and Purdue are having similar issues with that and future scheduling with ND by the way).

This game isn’t dead. It’s just another break.

Go back to taking “chicken”-style pot-shots at ND, Hoke. We can take it. It’s a hell of a lot more fun to hear (and respond) to those than factually false statements.

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  • George Warr

    Right on

  • SA Dan

    Airforce 1 anyone? What game did the President, ie Harrison Ford tape for later watching? ND-Michigan. Make it into a movie and you are a national rivalry.

    • Ryan Ritter

      Again, a national audience or recognition doesn’t make a regional rivalry a national one.

      “We Are Marshall” mentioned their rivalry with West Virginia, a game played only 12 times. Are they a national rivalry now?

    • Bayou Irish

      Actually, if you recall, SA Dan, Notre Dame v. USC plays in the background when Michael meets Hyman Roth at his modest home in Miami. As has been demonstrated conclusively, ND’s game against The Trojans is a true national rivalry, whereas the tilt with Michigan is a wildly-oscillating regional game. ND plays USC because Michigan tried to kill off budding Irish football program by barring regional teams from playing them. Certain regional rivalries take on national significance because of their longevity, e.g. The Iron Bowl or The Game, or because they resonate somehow, e.g. The Army Navy game. Point is, ND-Michigan falls into that category of regional clashes that capture a national audience from time to time. Don’t fool yourself, though. If it weren’t for ND, the game would have zero cache nationally. Auburn plays Alabama and you’ve got something. They play Vanderbilt or Kentucky and they’re on The Ocho, at best. Thank God for the SEC Network.

  • Keith

    Actually, I think your definition is a little jilted due to skunk bear hatred. A game with high national interest between regional rivals is still a national rivalry. I live in Nashville (ND alumnus) and although I agree that ND/Michigan might not be a national rivalry (few people here care about it). There is still great national interest in OSU/Mich. The game may have similar national numbers to ND/USC when they are both highly ranked.

    • Ryan Ritter

      No, a game between regional rivalries is a regional rivalry. How can you logically have that become a national thing?

      This has nothing to do with Skunkbear hatred. It is what it is. Had Hoke said “this is a rivalry game that gets massive national attention” he’d be right.

      The reason you can’t use ratings or national attention to define a rivalry is because it’s a fluid thing. The national attention with wane and grow depending on how good the teams are, but what you can’t change is where the teams are from.

      Basically, you’re saying that things can become “national” on a whim and that is just flat out false.

      • Keith

        It’s not a “whim”. The term national means ” common to or characteristic of a whole nation”. This means that the location of the teams is Independent of how the nation feels about said rivalry. You are being quite close minded in thinking that a national rivalry can not be fluid. That is complete nonsense. This “nation” changes it’s collective minds on a regular basis. As I said earlier, no ND/Mich is not national rivalry. You can’t just base the term rivalry on a set amount of years. If, as you said above, the WVU/Marshall gained the interest of the nation in numbers like the Super Bowl, would it still not be a national rivalry due to their relative locations to one another. Please.

        • Keith

          Interesting debate, but on a brighter note….I saw Ross Browner at the gas station tonight and talked to him for a few minutes! Not kidding.