Dig out those Catholic vs. Convicts T-shirts and dust them off, because Notre Dame fans might have a reason to wear them once again. Yesterday’s Miami Herald had a very interesting bit of information regarding a possible renewal of the Notre Dame-Miami rivalry. According to the Herald, Notre Dame and Miami have been talking about setting up a potential home and home with a neutral site game.
UM’s Kirby Hocutt initiated talks with Swarbrick, who became Notre Dame’s athletic director in July. No dates are set, but talks will resume in April, Swarbrick said by phone Monday.
NBC’s Notre Dame contract includes seven Irish home games and one prime-time neutral site game annually through 2015. ”You could do that,” Swarbrick said of the neutral site game, “plus do one home and home.”
UM and Notre Dame played annually (1971-1985 and 1987-1990) before the Irish discontinued the series. A Notre Dame student printed ”Catholics vs. Convicts” T-shirts before the epic 1988 game in South Bend, Ind., which Notre Dame won 31-30. UM won five of the past seven meetings and hostilities rose during and after Miami’s 58-7 win in 1985, when the Canes were accused of running up the score.
Playing Miami is appealing, Swarbrick said, because “they are two great academic institutions. We’re eager to play schools that share our values. There’s a lot of great history around the games.”
The two schools wanting to renew the rivalry is nothing new. Over the summer Miami AD Kirby Hocutt mentioned that they were interested in talking to Notre Dame about the neutral site games that the Irish are slated to play each year. At the time, Notre Dame did not have an athletic director. Now that Jack Swarbrick is fully acclimated to the job, it seems that interest has only intensified.
A series of games with Miami would be absolutely awesome for college football and the fans of both schools. The rivalry Notre Dame and Miami had in the late 80’s was one of the best non conference rivalries of the decade and a renewal of that rivalry would be great for college football. While both schools are only a shadow of what they both were at the end of the 1980’s, the two schools still have large fan bases that really don’t like each other. It’s hard to imagine two fan bases which haven’t faced off in more than 20 years disliking each other as much as Notre Dame and Miami fans do. Still, for as much as I don’t like Miami, I would love to see a home and home series with the Irish and Hurricanes.
What makes this news even better is the fact that new athletic director Jack Swarbrick is actively trying to add marquee games that will interest fans. In looking at the masterpiece schedule Kevin White assembled for 2009, how many really appealing games are there outside of our traditional, yearly rivals? UConn? Washington State? Washington? These are hardly the type of opponents which get the fans excited. Swarbrick is also not using the much maligned 7-4-1 scheduling philosophy of White’s as an excuse for being unable to line up marquee matchups.
Remember when Nick Saban mentioned he would love to play Notre Dame shortly after being hired by Alabama and the notion was quickly put down as being unlikely because of Notre Dame’s scheduling policies? Hopefully stories like that will be a thing of the past.
As for a potential Notre Dame-Miami matchup? It couldn’t happen soon enough for this Notre Dame fan. Ironically, I was just reminising about the 1988 Notre Dame-Miami game earlier this week. Obviously Jack Swarbrick must be a loyal reader of the UHND Blog.