Intertwined Destinies

After some posturing, much speculation and apparently behind the scenes negotiating, the two winningest programs in college football history (we won’t compare national championships) will be seeing each other for a very long time. Michigan and Notre Dame signed a deal that will take their series through 2031. Here’s the AP story on the re-up:

The two storied programs agreed to a 20-year contract extension Monday that will have them playing annually through 2031. The series was set to expire after the 2011 season.

“The Notre Dame-Michigan game has been a red-letter date on the football schedule for a long time, so it made perfect sense to make certain the rivalry continues annually long into the future,” Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White said.

The schools are 1-2 in wins and winning percentage in college football. Michigan is 860-282-36 with a .745 winning percentage, while Notre Dame is 821-269-42 with a .744 winning percentage. Michigan leads the all-time series 19-14-1. The Fighting Irish and Wolverines played which only twice from 1909-77, but their early season meeting has become a staple of the college football season over the last two decades.

“It is a game our players and alumni, and every college football fan, deserves,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. “I am ecstatic they were able to come to an agreement.”

The rivalry dates back to 1877, when some Michigan students taught the game to Notre Dame students. There was so much bad blood between the two schools, though, they stopped playing after the Irish earned their first victory in 1909 after eight straight losses.

The schools played again in 1942 and 1943, splitting the games, before resuming the series in 1978. Since then, they have met in all but six years.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who never saw the Irish play the Wolverines while he was a student at Notre Dame, called the announcement great news.

“This rivalry is good for both schools and college football,” he said.

This will make for an interesting 2012-13 slate when ND is scheduled to play Oklahoma and USC, now in addition to Michigan. Earlier in the week ND reached a deal in principle with the Sooners.

The University of Oklahoma and Notre Dame are planning on playing a home-and-home series in football in 2012 and 2013.

Kenny Mossman, Oklahoma’s sports information director, said the schools are in discussions but have not signed a contract. Notre Dame sports information director John Heisler said his school “has reached a deal with OU” to play the two games. Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White previously announced that Oklahoma would replace Michigan for two years after the current contract between Notre Dame and Michigan expires in 2011.

With this deal Kevin White has ensured that Notre Dame will have two top opponents to until Chelsea Clinton battles Jenna Bush for the ’32 presidency (that’s for you ndoldtown.) We should remind you that we won’t be using Big N refs for away games anymore, one of those small, but significant changes Kevin White was able to make that should increase Notre Dame’s chances of getting a fair shake.

~ The Rock

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