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Pat Caputo – Preposterous to suggest Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry carries previous meaning | College Sports


Michigan. Notre Dame. Saturday night to open the college football season Sept. 1 in South Bend.

Hail to the Victors. Wake up the echoes.

Then flash to grainy film of Yost, Crisler and Bo, along with Rockne, Leahy and Ara, and, of course, accompanied by dramatic music.

Then present Harmon and Hornung in black and white. Brown and Desmond in color.

Then get Lou Holtz to say something about it, well, just because.

Ah, Touchdown Jesus. Thank you so much. We are so grateful and thankful that these two “powerhouses” will be meeting in a renewal of one of the greatest traditions in college football.

It doesn’t get any bigger than that…

Hey, wait a second….

It’s all about the tradition, isn’t it? Not much about substance, at least as it relates to the present, right?

Michigan and Notre Dame, as they stand, are overhyped disappointments, who have not remotely lived up to considerable reputations for decades.

Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten championship since 2004 and has been pummeled on a regular basis by Ohio State and Michigan State. Only once since 2006 has Notre Dame placed in the Top 10 in the final Associated Press College Football Poll – in 2012 when they advanced to the BCS title game and were thrashed by Alabama. In the last five years, Michigan and Notre Dame have averaged eight victories.

It’s been one of college football’s oddities that these two programs, in a sense, have become twin underachievers.

Both are national in scope. Michigan’s reach for a public institution is amazing. If you travel around the country, you see the Big Block “M” everywhere, and it won’t necessarily be from transplanted Michiganders.

Notre Dame has its own national television contract with NBC, which it has essentially used to abuse the Big Ten when it comes to scheduling.

It’s shameful Notre Dame has gotten away without joining a conference for football. They play five ACC teams. They pulled MSU and Purdue, long-time Big Ten rivals, off their schedule for the likes of Wake Forest and Syracuse.

Part of this abuse involves Michigan. Notre Dame abruptly canceled the series by handing a letter to then-UM athletic director David Brandon just hours before the 2012 game.

Then Michigan went crawling back to the Fighting Irish in 2016, agreeing to play Saturday’s game on the road, even though the last time they met was in South Bend in 2014.

It’s set up a dreadful schedule this season for the Wolverines, who could have one of the best defenses in the nation, and have added a potential star quarterback in Shea Patterson, yet must go through the gauntlet of playing Notre Dame, MSU and Ohio State on the road.

It was bizarre how Michigan almost seemed desperate to get ND back on its schedule.

The idea a win over the Fighting Irish would necessarily set the course for Wolverines’ season is preposterous. You mean like Florida last year? It’s important, obviously, and Notre Dame did go 10-3 last season and is a legit Top 20 team.

But the truth is, a win over Notre Dame doesn’t have quite the same cache it once did. Ditto for beating Michigan.

I hear you. These are two of the winningest teams in college football history. “Hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low,” as Rockne would say. “The team, the team, the team,” as Bo would say.

Sure. I am all for the tradition as long as we put an asterisk next to the Michigan-Notre Dame “rivalry.”

*Please don’t forget to refer to what these programs are now compared to what they used to be.

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