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Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry could be ending

11:16 AM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
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By Erick Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference is already having an impact on the school's future football schedule.

Michigan announced Tuesday that Notre Dame is canceling three games scheduled with Wolverines.

Michigan was informed through a letter from Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick that the 2015-17 games will not be played.

The schools will meet in 2013 and 2014 as scheduled. The earliest the schools could resume the series is in 2020 with a previously scheduled break negotiated for 2018 and 2019.

"The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame's and not ours," Michigan athletics director David Brandon said in a statement. "We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series. This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries."

Brandon told The Associated Press he was given the letter on the field Saturday prior to the Irish's 13-6 victory in South Bend.

"I put the letter in my pocket and didn't bother to read it right away because I was focused on the game we were about to play," Brandon said. "I read it on the way home Sunday morning."

The decision to cancel the games contradicts what Swarbrick told the Detroit Free Press about his desire to keep the series going on a regular basis.

"It's really important us, given the nature of the two schools, just the affinity between the institutions, forget football a minute, it's really important to us so I'm going to work real hard to keep it as lively and frequent as we can," Swarbrick told the Free Press. "It's good for Notre Dame, too. We chatted a little bit tonight, talked about our mutual desire to get this done. I've got to get the ACC side of it set before I can figure the rest of it out."

The series between Notre Dame and Michigan spans 40 games with the Wolverines holding a 23-16-1 advantage.

The rivalry blossomed in 1978 with the schools meeting for the first time in 35 years. The game has been played annually 27 times since with two-game breaks only in 1995 and 1996 and 2000 and 2001.

Now it appears to be a casualty of the Irish joining the ACC for all sports besides football.

Notre Dame agreed to play at least five annual football games with ACC opponents. The Irish also have said wants to continue regular meetings with USC, Navy and Stanford.

That leaves only four games available to maintain other rivalries with Big Ten opponents Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State along with possible games in other regions of the country.

Swarbrick noted at earlier this month that Notre Dame would have to adjust its schedule in the future to account for the restrictions. This is the first sign of how different things will be.

Unfortunately for college football fans, it means the end of one of the season's top games.

Contributing: Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press

USA TODAY

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