Notebook: Michigan analyst Dan Dierdorf gets first look at Notre Dame Stadium

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

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SOUTH BEND -- A football career that began in Canton, Ohio, included an All-America career at Michigan, a Hall of Fame career with the St. Louis Cardinals, and a lengthy broadcasting career that included a stint on Monday Night Football, had never included a stop at Notre Dame Stadium for Dan Dierdorf.

Until Saturday night.

The former Michigan great, now in his first year as Michigan's radio color analyst, made his first visit to the venerable stadium for Saturday night's Notre Dame-Michigan game, a 31-0 victory for the 16th-ranked Irish. The last time he was in South Bend was in 2000 when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, which has since relocated to Atlanta.

"I don't care if it's Michigan-Notre Dame and I'm a Michigan man, the history, the men that have played on this field, the tradition of college football that lives in this place, I'm thrilled to be here," Dierdorf said from his broadcast perch on the fourth floor of the ND Stadium pressbox an hour before kickoff.

Dierdorf had retired from announcing pro games, but returned to broadcasting when the Michigan job became available. He teams with former teammate and longtime Wolverine play-by-play man Jim Brandstatter.

The Wolverines beat the Irish last season in Ann Arbor, but limped to a 7-6 finish in Brady Hoke's third season at the school. Saturday night's loss dropped Michigan to 1-1 while ND improved to 2-0.

"Last year — there's no way to sugarcoat it — last year was a colossal disappointment. That team did not perform well and when they faced some adversity, they didn't perform," Dierdorf said. "Everybody knows that and Brady took ownership of that and at Michigan, Notre Dame, I don't care where you're talking, 7-6 isn't good enough."

Dierdorf rattled off some of the memorable plays of the series, including former U-M quarterback Denard Robinson almost single-handedly beating the Irish in 2010, and Notre Dame's Rocket Ismail returning two kickoffs against Bo Schembechler and the Wolverines in 1989.

"Why Bo kicked to him the second time I'll never understand," Dierdorf said with a chuckle.

And like everyone involved with the rivalry, he has an opinion on the series ending, with the final installment taking place Saturday night.

"It's such a pertinent question and now that the day has finally arrived for the last game, I think everyone has different emotions. I'm sorry to see it end just because I admired both of these teams for having the courage to play each other this early in the season" Dierdorf said. "Everybody wants to pad the front end of their schedule, I always gave Michigan and Notre Dame credit for being tough enough to play a big game early in September."

Not so fond memory

The last time Notre Dame faced off against Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, he was on the Alabama sideline in the BCS National Championship Game following the 2012 season.

Nussmeier's team that night rolled up 529 yards of total offense in the Crimson Tide's 42-14 victory. Included in that total was 202 total yards in the first quarter and 309 in the first half as Alabama rolled to a 28-0 halftime lead.

Nussmeier, who replaced Al Borges as Michigan's coordinator over the offseason, didn't have quite the success Saturday. Michigan actually outgained Notre Dame 289-280, but Wolverines committed four turnovers.

Funchess update

Michigan star receiver Devin Funchess led all receivers with nine receptions for 107 yards, but left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right leg injury. Hoke declined to address injuries during his postgame press conference.

Wile right

Michigan kicker Matt Wile's two first-half misses on field-goal attempts dropped him to 1-of-4 on the season. Wile's first miss was wide right and on the second his plant foot appeared to slip in ND's new FieldTurf. For his career, Wile is 6 of 12.

Peeking ahead

The Wolverines might be done with the Irish, but they'll get an ND flavor next week when they host Miami (Ohio).

Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin is the first-year head coach at Miami, and three former Irish transferred to the school to play their fifth seasons.

In the RedHawks' 17-10 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, former Irish quarterback Andrew Hendrix completed 25 of 52 passes for 359 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, tight end Alex Welch caught two passes for 33 yards and nickelback Lo Wood registered five tackles. Miami is 0-2.

Ranked and filed

Michigan has now lost 11 straight road games to teams ranked in the Associated Press poll. Notre Dame entered Saturday night ranked 16th in the AP poll.

Rich history

The first Notre Dame-Michigan game was played Nov. 23, 1887, and a release posted on the Michigan official site described the game this way:

"En route to a game with Northwestern, U-M stopped in South Bend to teach the Irish the basics of football. After some instruction and practice, Michigan defeated Notre Dame 8-0."

That game was the first in Notre Dame history, and the only game the Irish played that year. Notre Dame played three games the following season, losing to Michigan on back-to-back days in April before closing the season eight months later with a home win over Harvard Prep.

Michigan's Dennis Norfleet tries to outrun Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith during the Notre Dame-Michigan game on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES