Notre Dame-Michigan

Notre Dame’s Daelin Hayes, left, and Jerry Tillery, right, work together to bring down Michigan QB Dylan McCaffrey during the 2018 season opener.

Call it the battle for South Africa.

On Thursday night, the @NDFootball Twitter account shared an image celebrating the fact that five current Notre Dame football players are spending 19 days studying abroad in South Africa. Accompanying the image, which included photos of the players, a course description and highlights of the itinerary, the tweet read, “When you choose Notre Dame, the (world) is your classroom. #GoIrish.”

Apparently that didn’t sit well with Michigan director of recruiting Matty Dudek.

Thirty-six minutes later, he tweeted a photo of the Michigan football team from its recent trip to South Africa. With the photo, Dudek wrote the same words as @NDFootball, but switched out Notre Dame for Michigan and #GoIrish for #GoBlue. Then he added a pair of hashtags: “#ImitationIsTheGreatestFormOfFlattery #NiceTryThough” with a shrugging emoji and a laughing emoji.

The Wolverines spent a week in South Africa earlier this month for what they call an experiential learning trip. It’s the third straight year Michigan’s football program has taken a trip abroad under head coach Jim Harbaugh. The team traveled to France in 2018 and Italy in 2017.

While Notre Dame doesn’t make similar trips as a whole team, studying abroad isn’t a foreign concept for the Irish football program. It’s been a regular occurrence since at least 2015, when Jaylon Smith, Jerry Tillery, Corey Robinson, Scott Daly, Mark Harrell, Doug Randolph and Josh Anderson studied in South Africa and Romeo Okwara studied in Greece.

In the years since, several players have made trips to Brazil, England, Israel, Japan, Russia and Germany. The Irish currently have players studying in South Africa and Brazil.

Perhaps Dudek could have done more research before accusing Notre Dame of imitation, but that wouldn’t be as fun.

Notre Dame and Michigan will meet Oct. 26 in Ann Arbor. The Irish have won three of the last four meetings between the two teams, including last season’s 24-17 victory at Notre Dame.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

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