Notre Dame and Ohio State Dislike One Another, and it’s Fantastic

Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If ever there were two programs capable of demonstrating that a rivalry can indeed exist without ever actually playing one another, it’d be Notre Dame and Ohio State. The storylines between the two are so deep and interlaced that a collision in a postseason bowl game had an almost inevitable quality.

The animosity’s origin began ten years ago when current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer jilted a listing Notre Dame program in favor of the Florida Gators. The slight left Irish fans little choice but to helplessly watch the continued decline of the Notre Dame program while Meyer established himself as one of the best coaches in the country by bringing two BCS National Championships back to Gainesville. If that wasn’t painful enough, Meyer seemed to derive pleasure from Notre Dame’s suffering by continuously referring to Notre Dame as his dream job as the victories kept mounting at Florida.

The rivalry followed Meyer to Ohio State and took form in personnel battles. Ohio State has offered coaching positions to three of Notre Dame’s assistants in the past five years. Head coach Brian Kelly returned the favor this past offseason by luring up-and-coming offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Mike Sanford, to South Bend instead of Columbus despite Sanford having been a graduate assistant at Utah during Meyer’s tenure in Salt Lake City. The borderline familial relationship between both coaching staffs has spilled over to recruiting where things have, on occasion, become abnormally personal.

It should come as no surprise two Midwestern teams often butt heads in the world of recruiting, and each side has managed to inflict pain upon the other. Taylor Decker, Ohio State’s starting tackle and a projected first-round NFL draft selection by some publications, was a one-time Notre Dame commitment before flipping to the Buckeyes. Jaylon Smith, a former 5-star recruit and recent Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, signed with Notre Dame despite his older brother playing for Ohio State. And most recently Tommy Kraemer, the No. 1 high school prospect in Ohio for the class of 2016, committed to Notre Dame over the in-state power Buckeyes. The continuous crossover has evoked some raw reactions.

When Notre Dame landed the commitment of Ohio native Liam Eichenberg during a particularly heated recruiting battle, Notre Dame’s former offensive line coach – and current Ohio State coach of the same position – Ed Warinner did not take the news well. In fact, he handled the situation in the passive-aggressive manner one would expect from a high schooler being recruited rather than a middle-aged coach doing the recruiting. Moments after Eichenberg committed to Notre Dame Warinner fired off his own defiant tweet in response.

Perhaps taking the lead from their coaching staffs, the animosity has trickled down to the players themselves. During this season’s spring practice session Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire posted a tweet of optimism not uncommon for most football teams given the time of year.

“We will get it done this year.”

Although not intended for anyone in particular, Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee took umbrage with Zaire’s statement, an odd development considering the two programs have rarely played one another. Lee’s response was clear and to the point, with just a smidgen of unintended foreshadowing.

“We’ll be waiting.”

The most direct shots between the two came after Brian Kelly told the media he felt Notre Dame had the best quarterback depth in the country and would take his quarterback roster over anyone’s, including defending national champion, Ohio State. Kelly’s comments did not sit well with Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi he “felt sorry” for Notre Dame and boasted that the Buckeyes had three quarterbacks to Notre Dame’s none.

As lacking in merit as Kelly’s comments were at the time, it turns out the confidence in his quarterback depth was well placed.

The quarterback play in Columbus has been a question mark all season long. One-time starter Braxton Miller was moved to wide receiver and Cardale Jones, who rose to the top of the depth chart over the summer, floundered before losing the starting position outright to J.T. Barrett. While Barrett has added a spark to the Buckeyes’ offense, Ohio State is 1-1 this season against ranked opponents after losing at home to a Michigan State team without its star quarterback, Connor Cook, in a game that saw Barrett complete barely half his passing attempts for less than 50 yards.

Notre Dame experienced worse turmoil at the position after the transfer of Everett Golson and the season-ending injury to Malik Zaire, yet managed to thrive. In a scenario neither Cardale Jones nor Brian Kelly could have predicted during their preseason spat about quarterback depth, redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer shined while leading Notre Dame to an 8-2 record as a starter, with the lone losses coming in the waning seconds on the road to the No. 1 team in the nation and the Pac-12 champion.

Notre Dame and Ohio State have been engaged in football’s equivalent of a Cold War since Urban Meyer’s arrival to Columbus, but on January 1st both programs will finally settle their differences where it matters the most – on the field. And the college football world is all the better for it.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor. He talks football 24 hours a day much to the chagrin of his wife and those around him. Scott can be reached at or follow him on Twitter.



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  1. George 4 years ago

    Why not suburban? Guess farther away is more derogatory.

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  2. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

    ^ I see what you did there.

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  3. NemesisTheDestroyer 4 years ago

    They’ll never see them coming!”

    Score more points and knock the shit out of the buckheads, end of story.

    If Rural Meyer needs a Fiesta Bowl participation trophy after the game to help alleviate his mental dis-ease he will experience, give it to him. Remember, Notre Dame was supposedly a “dream job” at one time for Rural Meyer, according to Rural. I detest lying sacks of rotten pus, like Rural Meyer.

    Be a steam roller, flatten the buckheads
    Glory be, to Notre Dame football.

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  4. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

    You’re welcome!

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  5. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    You just did. Thanks.

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  6. Michael the Archangel 4 years ago

    Regarding (SOS) Strength of Schedule:
    Under the sub-title: Tapping into reality . . . where some posters dare not venture-
    ND is the only top ranked team who played 5 teams ranked in the top 25 at year’s end, losing to two by a total of 3 points, while defeating the other three.
    Can we bury that dead fish of an argument denying NDs SOS (not in the “eye of the beholder”, but instead, in the final vote of the pollsters at season’s end) before it smells up the site with even further stinkin’ ignorance ?
    Merry Christmas.
    Here’s hoping for more consciousness among some of these ND whiners and troll haters in the coming new year.

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  7. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    “Apathy”,”understandable”, “should have”,”should be”,” I’m theory “, “IF”, “show up”, “I’m not sold”,”I don’t think”, “EXPERT analysis”. Concrete? Merry X-mas and may you /yours all be healthy and content which is true happiness.(IMHO). Thanks.

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  8. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

    Merry Christmas and to all a good night!
    One more time for old times sake.

    September 14, 2015 at 5:21 am
    Losing to Georgia Tech will not be Kizer’s fault. This one was already going to be a loss.

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  9. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

    December 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I think I just discovered why ND doesn’t want to join the Big Ten.

    December 24, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I wasn’t pretending to know why ND won’t join the Big Ten,

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  10. Buckeye 4 years ago

    I wasn’t pretending to know why ND won’t join the Big Ten, it was just a shot at those who claim that the Irish always play ‘murderer’s row’ when in actuality SOS is in the eye of the beholder and some aren’t sure what they are seeing.

    My argument is not based on the history of religious bigotry but the history of football.

    The SOS naysayers had the Buckeyes written off last year and this years schedule was worse, I hated it! As defending champion you get the benefit of the doubt until you lose, see Florida St. last year. We lost to MSU and paid the price for it but there are a few factors that tell me anyway that the Buckeyes CANNOT get rolled by ND.

    First, for whatever reason it’s hard to repeat so the apathy with which this team played for most of the season is at least understandable. However, they bounced back against hated Michigan and should have equal motivation against ND. Second. the team that won last year was supposed to be one year ahead of schedule so this team in theory should be better when motivated. Finally, if the Buckeyes show up we know exactly what they are but I’m still not sure just how good ND is. I’m not sold on Stanford and I don’t think Clemson has a championship caliber defense but we will have a better idea after they play Oklahoma – oddly enough a team many thought were in competition with ND for a playoff spot.

    You are welcome in advance for that expert analysis.

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  11. SteelFanRob 4 years ago

    On the one hand, as much as I hate to admit it, “Bucky” is right about ND’s diminishing (disappearing) SOS. And, yes, close defeats are not victories, although some here seem to really enjoy “moral victories.” Thankfully, as we found out on Showtime, BK doesn’t!

    On the other hand, here we go once again with the ignorant, revisionist history. ND wanted to join the Big 10, but anti-Catholic bigots, like Fielding Yost at Michigan and his equally prejudiced allies in Columbus, didn’t allow ND to enter their exclusive, WASP old-boys club. That’s a simple matter of history, “Bucky,” you can read it for yourself. Moreover, Woody simply refused to schedule ND, another matter of fact. So, sorry, “Bucky,” get your facts right. By the time some in the Big 10 repented and approached ND to join them, ND’s independence was well-established, lucrative, liberating, part of the school’s identity, etc.

    Facts, that’s how I roll, troll.

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