Kelly doesn’t view Notre Dame-Michigan as a traditional rivalry
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media September 1, 2013 8:58PM
SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball against safety Zeke Motta #17 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: October 3, 2013 6:25AM
Brian Kelly described Notre Dame’s series with Michigan in several ways.
Hard fought? Yes.
High profile? Sure.
One of Notre Dame’s historical rivalry games? Not so much, in the coach’s opinion.
“I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,” Kelly said during a teleconference Sunday. “I’ve seen it just as one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.”
The teams meet in one of the marquee games of Week 2 Saturday. ESPN’s College GameDay will be on the scene, hyping what will be the last time the teams play at Michigan for an indefinite period of time. The series takes a break after the 2014 contest in South Bend. Starting next season, Notre Dame has to make room for five games a year against ACC schools. The Michigan game becomes a casualty.
“For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time (coaching at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan), I’ve always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game,” Kelly said. “But I think in the Notre Dame history books, this game has [been] played itself, but obviously there’s been some years where it hasn’t been played for a number of years as well.”
The series started in 1887, and Michigan holds a 23-16-1 edge. There was an extended break between meetings in 1943 and 1978, but the teams have played fairly regularly since, including every year since 2002.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke made waves this summer saying Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the series.
“Everybody knows the challenges that we have as an Independent when it comes to scheduling,” Kelly said. “We’re a team that a lot of people want to play, including Michigan, obviously, or Brady wouldn’t comment in that regard.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with maintaining the independence status and fulfilling the obligations we have with the ACC. We’d like to play everybody. Unfortunately we can’t. There’s going to be a little bit of a hiatus with this game, but we’ll work hard to get them back on the schedule.”