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Michigan, Notre Dame prepare for last meeting

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm •  Published: August 31, 2014
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is about to go dormant again.

The series dates to 1887 when Michigan students traveled to South Bend to teach Notre Dame students the game. The game has featured exciting games, standout players and feuding coaches from schools 150 miles apart that are both coming off easy opening victories.

Michigan defensive end Frank Clark doesn't like what's happening.

"That's one of the big rivals. You got Notre Dame-Michigan. You got (Michigan) State-Michigan. You got Ohio (State) vs. Michigan. For a team to opt out of that contract, and to opt out of playing another team that is a great rival and is one of those great games, it's almost like a slap in the face," he said. "We're going to do what we've got to do to get the job done."

In 2007, the two schools announced they would play annually through 2031. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he was blindsided when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed him a letter before the 2012 game informing him Notre Dame was ending the series. Brandon said he didn't read the letter until riding back to Ann Arbor.

Swarbrick, though, said Brandon knew the notice was coming, saying he told him in a phone conversation. Swarbrick said it was necessary because Notre Dame had agreed to play five games a season against Atlantic Coast Conference teams when it joined the league in most other sports while staying independent in football. Swarbrick said Brandon told him that when he received the letter it would become public quickly because of public record laws.

"I said, 'Let me think about that, whether it makes any difference.' I talked to some people here. I walked up to him on Saturday and told him, 'I've thought about it. I still have to give you the letter,' and I handed it to him," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the university had to get some games off its schedule and the Michigan contract had an automatic rollover provision with a year being added each time a game was played. He said Michigan insisted on that rollover provision.

"They were worried about the impact of a ninth game in the Big Ten schedule so they wanted the flexibility to end it if they needed to," he said.

It's not the first time the series was abruptly ended. In 1910, the year after Notre Dame beat the Wolverines for the first time, Michigan canceled the game the day before the game, claiming the Irish were using ineligible players.

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