The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that Notre Dame and Miami will officially renew one of the 1980′s best intersectional rivalries with a three games series taking place in 2012, 2016, and 2017. This series has been a long time in the making and should excite two fan bases waiting for their teams to return to better times.
According to the Tribune, the first match-up between the one time rivals will come October 6, 2012 in Chicago at Solider Field filling the “neutral site” game for the ’12 for Notre Dame. Miami would be the fourth opponent for the Irish in one of the neutral site games and would be, by far, the most high profile opponent after Notre Dame played Washington State in the Alamodome in 2009 with Army in Yankee Stadium this season and Maryland at FedEx Field in 2011.
After the game in Solider Field, the two schools will have a home and home with Miami visiting Notre Dame Stadium on October 8, 2016 and Notre Dame traveling to South Beach for a Thanksgiving weekend showdown on November 25, 2017.
The Thanksgiving weekend date for the trip to Miami is particularly interesting since Notre Dame traditionally ends the season in either Los Angeles against USC in even numbered years and in Palo Alto against Stanford in odd number years. Could this mean a change in the series with Stanford is on the horizon? The Stanford series is only signed through 2011 and last fall the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the series was in danger of being suspended for a while.
More importantly though, it’s great to see Miami officially back on the Notre Dame schedule. For any Notre Dame fan who grew up in the 80′s the Miami series at the end of the decade was the high mark of Notre Dame football. Since then Notre Dame has only seriously flirted with a national championship one time (1993). Despite Miami knocking Notre Dame around in the early part of the decade, the 1988 and 1989 showdowns were two of the biggest regular season matchups of the decade.
This series has been in the works for a while. In July of 2008, reports surfaced that Miami was interested in booking a game with Notre Dame for one of the neutral site games instituted by Kevin White. Nine months later another report came out from the Miami Herald that the two schools were in talks about a potential home and home series with a third neutral site game included as well. John Heisler was quick to temper excitement over the report a few days later, but Jack Swarbrick kept hope alive for the series by saying they were looking into the idea but no dates were discussed.
Finally, the Chicago Tribune reported in May that the two schools had agreed to play each other, but that they hadn’t worked out the dates yet. And that brings us to today’s news.
For those that give Swarbrick and the Athletic Department grief over the schedule, the history behind making this series a reality should give a clear picture of how difficult it is to work out games with marquee programs and how long it takes to make them work. Maybe now some will give Swarbrick a pass for the 2010 schedule since he inherited a schedule with holes in it that needed to be plugged in a short time. That’s how you end up with Western Michigan and Tulsa in 2010 and Miami and potentially Oklahoma in 2012.
Swarbrick deserves a lot of credit for working this out and adding not only an old rival back to the schedule, but giving Notre Dame a marquee game in Soldier Field. Notre Dame fans who travel to the Windy City for the 2012 game will be in for a treat with a great city to visit and a marquee game that will attract plenty of attention from around the college football world.
The 2012 schedule looks more like what most Notre Dame fans want. The Irish will play USC, Michigan, Miami and potentially Oklahoma. Reports have linked Notre Dame and Oklahoma to a 2012/13 home and home series, but nothing official has been released. Should the Oklahoma home and home come to fruition, that 2012 schedule would give Notre Dame fans games with four of the nation’s elite programs.
Back in May I posted a video history of the series with a bunch of YouTube clips from the last three games of the series that is worth taking a look at if you have a few minutes.