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

Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. “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.

  4. 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.

  5. Buckeye
    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,

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Alley OOPS,

    Boston College has a much better defense than the Buckeyes? I bet you wish you could have hit the delete button before typing that drivel. One thing I do know is that you won’t be facing the BC offense in a little more than a week!

    Another thing I know – Temple is who we thought they were! Another chink in the armour for the strength-of-schedule crowd. What team of real quality did ND beat? Remember, close losses aren’t really wins.

    Last year most people didn’t want the Buckeyes in the playoff because of their schedule and we saw how that turned out so keep beating the same old drum and continue to look foolish. Maybe, just maybe, the Big Ten is a little better than people think and ND’s schedule isn’t as tough as some people think.

    I think I just discovered why ND doesn’t want to join the Big Ten. Sorry if that offends you, the truth hurting and all that, but that is how I roll.

  9. I’m sorry, Scott, but I’m not seeing all this animosity you’re mentioning. I’ve hung out on the OSU fan sites for the last couple of weeks, and they seem pretty civil to me. A lot of them have genuine respect for ND.

    It’s very creative, though, I’ll give you that.

  10. Hey Bucky,

    Northern Illinois was a stellar program, not to mention that awesome game against IU. Not saying ND rolls, but if your quoting one game Ohio State has some real winners they struggled against. The same team which lost to Boston College by 3. Do your homework before you troll moron.

  11. Bucky….. is that you! ?
    You don’t sound sound a day over 70… am I right?

    “You make feel so young, you make me feel so, spring has sprung…”

  12. You couldn’t ‘roll’ Boston College, what in the world makes you think you could roll the Buckeyes?
    Boston College has a much better defense than Ohio State. Get ready to be rolled, Buckeyes:).

  13. If this game is going to be a blow out we will have to consult with our resident Plan B expert for second half suggestions.

  14. I hope that was said with a heavy dose of sarcasm otherwise in a few short days you will be made to look very foolish.

    The Buckeyes didn’t beat anybody all year and looked dreadful against the only quality team they did play BUT if ND can’t stop Elliott, and there is no evidence to think they can, it could get ugly in Ohio St.’s favor.

    Most of the matchups favor the Buckeyes and none more so than the one between Meyer and Kelly, a mismatch if ever there was one.

    You couldn’t ‘roll’ Boston College, what in the world makes you think you could roll the Buckeyes?

  15. The point is, George, that they actually suspend players at ND if they are not living up to the school’s standards both on and off the field, a point lost on many it seems.

    I can guarantee that the past academic misdeeds that got ND’s starters suspended for an entire season would’ve landed OSU players on the Dean’s list at that so-called “institute of higher learning” in Ohio.

    I love the hypocrisy of those who root for college football teams run by well-known cheats coming on to an ND site to preach against ND for doing the right thing.

  16. Moreover, the track records of Meyer and Tressel are well-established. ND’s is as well. That’s not hypocrisy, it’s history. Of course, for the pathologically delusional there may well be no distinction between fact and fiction. So be it!

  17. Yes and no, JDH. There are trolls and then there are trolls. Some need to be ignored and let go their own way. Others, like “buckeye”, need to be challenged. Note that this loser totally failed to meet my challenge to proffer evidence for his charges. For this troll slander and innuendo serve as argument. Instead, “bucky” gets on a delusional high-horse to inform us that he’s our true moral conscious. I agree, JDH, that such pathological delusion doesn’t merit a retort. That would be aiding and abetting a mentally sick person as “buckeye” clearly is. Yet, when this troll makes substantive charges and claims, he needs to be challenged. That strategy ultimately drove away our old friend “Angry Eagle” (a.k.a., “Anus Eagle”), of lamented memory (sarcasm intended, of course).

  18. Why on earth do you guys still engage Buckeye? Pathology needs to be fed to “survive and thrive”, so to speak. We’ve discussed this ad nauseum over the years during his periodic visits. Anyone who goes onto another team/fan site, to insert themselves as some kind of a “moral barometer” to tell us “what’s what”, gripped with spectacular delusions that they will achieve some nebulous end goal with their trolling, is truly not worth the bandwith. He is not in our camp so don’t interact with him as if he is. Ignore and carry on. I know it can be difficult but let’s take the higher, smarter road here. He thrives off of direct responses. Please don’t oblige him.

  19. I didn’t mention any specific incidents, however, there are many people who do not believe that certain ‘matters’ have been properly investigated.

    What am I doing here? I am here to call out the ND hypocrisy. You guys like to give it out and be the moral authority but you should take the losses or underperformance like a man instead of always resorting to graduation rates, schedules, off field issues etc.

    If you want pathetic just look in the mirror.

  20. Please, please, give us a concrete example, buckeye, of ND sweeping something under the rug. Don’t bring up matters that were investigated by civil authorities outside the university and found wanting legal merit. Note that almost anything you bring up has been properly reported by the university and investigated by external authorities.

    ND has the highest graduation rates (along with NW) for its football players and other athletes. As George points out above, ND’s track record speaks for itself. So does Meyer’s. So does OSU’s.

    Once again, what exactly are you doing on here, pathetic troll?

  21. Suspending five players an entire season for a possible misuse of footnotes on a term paper isn’t good enough for you?

  22. Meyer would have trouble at Notre Dame. He wouldn’t have any issue recruiting. I think he is the best recruiter in the country but he wouldn’t be able to sweep things under the rug like he did at Florida. The story about all the things going on behind the scenes at Florida was hard to believe when that story came out a couple of months ago. Meyer lost control of his players and his program. That would never happen in South Bend!

    You are seeing some of the same things starting at OSU.

    If his dream job is Notre Dame like he says he has a great way of showing it!

  23. OSU being comprised of ND rejects is a new one. I buy that assertion when it comes to Boston College players, but somehow I think those Buckeyes are doing just fine with their 2014 NC rings.

  24. It’s a one sided class war. OSU is (politely?) blue collar. ND is anything but… Think of how many of those players either weren’t recruited by ND because they couldn’t make grades, or took the Buckeye path for fear that they couldn’t hack it academically? For them it’s a battle of personal worth.

    I just hope that the Irish can muster as much intensity. And that BVG can find some way to hide poor safety play against Braxton Miller.

  25. As an ND fan from Ohio, I can tell you this rivalry is huge from a fans perspective. There is no team I hate more than OSU and I honestly cannot stand their fans either. It gets pretty heated around here between OSU and ND fans and I really hope we show up on New Years and play our best game of the year because we have not had any bragging rights since 95 against these bastards as far as a head to head argument. I get sick of OSU playing one of the worst schedules (including out of conference) every year and usually ending up at the top. I guarantee if ND played that crap schedule, we would be there too. Kinda makes you think Swarbrick should change it up a bit if that is all it takes to make it to the top 4. Although it is going to be one of the best arguments ever when ND wins a NC with a 100% graduation rate for football players, playing one of the hardest schedules in the NCAA, and would be even better if it was against Ohio State.

    Go Irish!

  26. What a non-story. How does this create teams not liking each other. When ND played Alabama in the National championship, sports analyst, Meyer, predicted a win for ND. Nothing here suggests anything other than respect for each other’s programmes – hence going after coaches from the other team. Sheesh.

  27. Fiesta haiku
    for Ron Burgy and the rest
    All’s well that ends well

    last national champ
    running the ball right at you
    ND epic win

  28. I agree with Ed. What about Ohio State’s VP and Director of Athletics Gene Smith, former Notre Dame defensive end and member of the 1973 championship team. Says he has fond memories of days at ND.

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