Notre Dame football: Michigan AD weighs in on ND

Staff reports
ND Insider

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Michigan coach Brady Hoke has taken the NotreDame rivalry up a notch.

Hoke made a crowd chuckle on Monday at West Michigan Sports Commissionluncheon by saying the Fighting Irish are "chickening out" from thestoried series.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick last fall exercised anoption in its football-scheduling contract with Michigan to cancelgames from 2015-2017.

Hoke lamented that the Irish will continue to play rivals MichiganState and Purdue, joking he knows why they made that decision.

Michigan State actually will begin rolling off the Irish schedulebeginning in 2014-15 in a new four-on, two-off format. The MSUcontract runs through 2032, according to the Detroit Free Press.

And Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke recently lamented publiclyabout whether he could get the annual nature of its rivalry to workwhen the Big Ten goes from eight to nine league games in 2016.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon discussed its ND situationwith ESPN.com Tuesday at the Big Ten spring meetings in Chicago.

"I'm not sure I would have used the word 'chicken.' That's kind of howfootball coaches would think about it, and that's OK," Brandon said."Brady's a pretty straightforward guy. I would just say Notre Dame hadchoices to make, and they chose to back away from a rivalry game we'vehad on our schedule for a long time.

"It's going to be a long time. We've both been busily scheduling outinto years into the future. And as I understood it from my counterpartat Notre Dame, they're making plans to go in a different direction.

"So the earliest we could schedule would be sometime post-2021, 2022,and when you start talking that far out, who knows? So it's going tobe a while.

"The night game we have at Michigan Stadium this September, and thenour last trip down to South Bend next year are going to be reallyexciting, because it's going to be the end of the rivalry, at leastfor a considerable period of time."

Notre Dame announced last fall there would be a break in the series.

When the South Bend Tribune asked Swarbrick whether the series wouldbe resurrected, he responded, "Oh, absolutely. It's a priority of oursto figure out a way to get that done. I needed to take advantage ofthe flexibility this contract afforded me to create an ability tomanage the schedule the next few years.

"We have nothing but the highest regard for Michigan. I enjoy workingwith their AD. We'll have Michigan games in the future absolutely. Thetiming (of exercising the out clause) was triggered by the contract.I'd lose the flexibility of being able to alter any of it if I didn'tdo that before kickoff (on Sept. 22, 2012). That's when we had to doit."

In regard to the Michigan State and Purdue football series, he said,"We've got to work with both schools and work through it. Already,there's a break in the schedule in the Michigan State series. It'sbeen long-standing on the schedule. Whether we have to do anythingbeyond that, we're not there yet."

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke