Hoke: Notre Dame 'chickening out' of series with Michigan

Hoke: Notre Dame 'chickening out' of series with Michigan
May 13, 2013, 4:45 pm
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After 2014, the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry will become the latest casualty of college football's ever-changing landscape. Texas doesn't play Texas A&M anymore, and the same goes for Missouri-Kansas, West Virginia-Pitt and a host of other intense annual contests that have been wiped out.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke, though, sees Notre Dame being at fault for the loss of the rivalry.

"We are fortunate to have unbelievable rivalry games at Michigan," Hoke said in Grand Rapids, Mich., via CoachingSearch.com. "The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they're chickening out of -- they're still going to play Michigan State, they're going to play Purdue, but they don't want to play Michigan. I don't know how they made that decision. I really do."

Hoke's comments drew laughter and applause from the partisan crowd, although Notre Dame officials probably didn't find it too funny. Athletic department spokesman John Heisler said this in September when it was determined the series, which dates back to 1887, wouldn't continue:

"Our contract with Michigan has an automatic rollover provision with a year being added each time a game is played. We needed to avoid the automatic addition of additional games until we can get a better understanding of our available inventory in those years an understanding that will develop as we implement our five-game scheduling commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference."

[More: Rees ready to complete complicated legacy at Notre Dame]

Michigan State is off Notre Dame's schedule in 2014 and 2015 as part of a four-on, two-off agreement that runs through 2032, but is slated to return in 2016. But that game may be in jeopardy with Michigan State reportedly balking at the notion of playing Alabama and Notre Dame in an abbreviated non-conference schedule in 2016. With Notre Dame's five-game ACC agreement and the Big Ten's nine-game conference schedule looming, the future of Notre Dame-Michigan State isn't guaranteed.

The same goes for the Notre Dame-Purdue series. Purdue desperately wants to keep Notre Dame on its schedule -- netting them a sure-fire sellout every two years at Ross-Ade Stadium -- but issues with Notre Dame's ACC agreement and the Big Ten schedule have yet to be resolved.

Either way, Hoke's jabs may add an extra layer to a rivalry that looks like it'll go out at its peak. Notre Dame plays Michigan under the lights in Ann Arbor next fall, and the final game of the series will take place in 2014 at Notre Dame Stadium, and is a likely candidate to be played at night as well.