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This was always a troubled marriage.
There were accusations of cheating. Grudges were held. One party kept the other out of what became the Big Ten Conference, yet on its own, the other flourished.
The irony is that without Michigan football, we wouldn’t have Notre Dame football. If Michigan hadn’t taught its student counterparts at Notre Dame how to “down, set, hut” in the late 19th century, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Acknowledge that there’s been plenty of acrimony in the 127-year relationship. Fabled coaches Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost harbored a mutual dislike that lasted for decades, and at one point the teams met only twice between 1910 and 1977. Even Fritz Crisler and Frank Leahy had better things to do than meet for a beer, let alone play a football game.
Former UM athletic director Don Canham was ahead of his time. He revitalized the relationship for money and exposure. The latest 35-year-old fling flourished and gained national prominence. UM and ND have their respective places in college football’s annals as two of the nation’s winningest programs.
So let’s not race to eulogize this ending. Instead, it’s time to finalize this divorce. For the better of Notre Dame. For the better of Michigan. And in the name of the shifting tectonic plates of college football.