4/5/2018 – Michigan 3, Notre Dame 4 – 22-15-3, season over
John Buccigross freaked out about it. So did Barry Melrose. So did I, when Michigan flung a puck across the slot and Tony Calderone ripped off one of his last trademark snap shots from the slot. This one was a one-timer. An ND defenseman screened the camera from the goal line so I flicked my eyes to the back of the net, where the net would soon bulge in reaction to Michigan's triumph.
Instead, nothing. Buccigross's register cracked glass as my heart sunk. I waited for a replay to see how Cale Morris had desperately flung some extremity or another at the puck and gotten lucky, so I could curse bloody fate.
The replay came, and it was even worse than that: Calderone had plunked Morris in the chest. On a cross-slot one-timer. Because Morris was already on the far post. What the &#*$. That's some Shawn Hunwick business from a guy a half-foot taller. So much for "Cale Morris is a system goaltender."
Half a period later, after the Pastujovs had gritted out a tying goal and overtime seemed inevitable, Michigan did not get a similar save. For ND to get a shot at all after they were apparently trying to run out the period with 16 seconds left deep in their own end is a team-wide thing, but the nature of that shot after Quinn Hughes kind of sort of tied up his man's stick was "mostly harmless."
But for some reason, Hayden Lavigne's attempt to reposition went about as poorly as Morris's went well. He pushed out of the crease vertically, opening up a gap that was less a five hole and more the Seven Nation Army video. The puck dinked his pad and slid to the back of the net.
And at least Michigan kind of deserved it? That's all I can say about this tournament format. I don't feel like this was an injustice. They blew a chance to correct various injustices past, for a given definition of "blew." Playing an even-ish game against a really good team and not winning it is… fine? Sort of?
I mean obviously black burnt dirt and grass, but if the difference in this game was having a .945 goalie versus a .910 goalie there can be no complaints to the persistently oafish hockey gods even if the thunderbolt came with five seconds left. From a fan satisfaction perspective I was in fact just happy to be here after one bid in five years, coming off a season in which the only thing keeping them from single-digit wins was, ironically, goaltending that exceeded expectations.
Restoring Michigan back to the juggernaut they were during the 15 prime Berenson years takes time. Michigan is ahead of schedule after the 14-4-1 tear to reach the Frozen Four, and they're back to recruiting like maniacs who want to play maniac hockey.
It feels like the train is coming. Once it is assembled and Michigan loses to Mercyhurst because their goalie makes a mole of saves, I will jump in the bathtub of bourbon and moan that the universe is a simulation created by Knute Rockne. Now I'll just enjoy feeling feelings about hockey again, and having a reason to mope around the house on a Friday with a yawning black pit of despair threatening to send me to my knees every 47.2 minutes.
Michigan's opponent is an extremely familiar one: Notre Dame. The teams split the season series 2-2, with an early January Notre Dame sweep followed by Michigan's mid-February riposte. The first series saw Michigan play the then-#1 team in the country dead even, setting up their second half run. The second took Michigan's chances for a tourney bid from distantly possible to all but assured.
One thing this game is certain to be is tight. Tight checking, tight on the scoreboard, tight-sphinctered. Three of the four games were decided by one goal; the fourth was a 4-2 win at Yost. Shot totals from the four games were similarly narrow. After Michigan outshot ND 36-27 in the first game it was a dead heat the rest of the way: 34-36, 36-36, 37-35. There was only a bit more wobble in shot attempts, with two very even games and one decisive win by each team. Michigan had a very slight edge in attempts from the house perDave'scharting.
Might be worth noting that Michigan was missing Josh Norris and Quinn Hughes from the first of the four games, as both were coming off the WJCs. Adding them did not give Michigan a decisive advantage—the game they missed was in fact Michigan's best from a shot perspective—but this Hughes is not that Hughes.
man playing hockey
Notre Dame is a relentlessly disciplined outfit that relies more on structure and reliability than pew-pew lasers. They've split their top two scorers across two lines, which has been a positive for Michigan since their second unit of Norris-Slaker-Warren is a bunch of two-way players that Michigan sought to match against the Greenway/Tkachuk monster line BU put out.
Top scorer Jake Evans, a senior and 7th round pick, has 11-31-42 on the year. This scouting report on Evans from before last year's Frozen Four is also Notre Dame in a nutshell:
Jake Evans, Jr., C - It takes watching the Montreal Canadiens prospect in all three zones to truly appreciate the impact he has on a game. His 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points ranks third on the Irish, but it's his complete play as a two-way center that makes him truly special. He is good on draws and responsible throughout the 200 feet of the ice sheet. He does a terrific job of engaging, lifting sticks and disrupting shooting and passing lanes. He is very hard to play against.
He's flanked by sophomore Cam Morrison (8-13-21, second round pick) and freshman Colin Theisen (6-13-19); Morrison is a power forward type who hasn't quite been the scorer ND probably hoped he'd be after a USHL PPG as a 17-year-old.
Line 1A features Cal Burke (13-12-25), the only ND player with double-digit even strength goals, and Andrew Oglevie (13-23-36), their top PP scorer and leading shooter amongst forwards. Dylan Malmquist is an infrequent shooter benefiting from some puck luck to get up to 9-10-19.
It gets thin for ND after their top two lines; the third line has one guy with double-digit points on the season, and the fourth line is actually two guys you'll probably see for five minutes tops; ND has dressed 7 defensemen for most of the season.
As you might imagine for a defensively oriented team, ND's blue line is excellent. Senior Jordan Gross (10-18-28) picks up a bunch of the slack that the middling forward corps leaves when it comes to scoring; while he's not super-dynamic he's got an excellent, accurate point shot and picks his spots well. Andrew Peeke, Matt Hellickson, and Dennis Gilbert are all draftees, and junior Bobby Nardella has an impressive 5-19-24 line.
Taking advantage of scanty opportunities will be crucial, whether that's a power play or an incredibly rare odd-man rush. That goes for both teams. There aren't going to be a lot of Grade A chances out there.
"Stay out of the box" remains so imperative that you might as well get it tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. ND's power play is 10th nationally at 23%, which is bad for Michigan's #57 penalty kill. On the bright side, ND-Michigan games were relatively clean this year. Michigan averaged three (attempted) kills per game instead of the 4 they averaged across the season. Playoff hockey tends to depress calls, which helped Michigan as they faced just four PPs in the regionals.
The other bright reason why "stay out of the box" is so imperative: Notre Dame has just one even strength goal against Michigan this year. Their shooting percentage almost doubles from 7.7 to 14.2 when they get on the power play.
The other side of the coin isn't much more encouraging: ND's penalty kill keeps the puck out of the net 89% of the time, which is second nationally. The disparity is so big here that Michigan getting hauled down without a call early might actually be a good sign if it signals that the whistles will be rare. As much 5v5 as possible, thanks.
Cale Morris leads the country with a .945 save percentage, so they've got that going for them. Morris is undrafted, got just one game a year ago, and had a .906 in his final year in the USHL, so maybe that's more about the team around him than his talent level?
Stay out of the box! ND isn't as good on the power play as Northeastern but the gap between their scoring rates is probably similar. ND struggles to put up goals at even strength, particularly against this Michigan team.
Quinn, again. Quinn Hughes is by far the best player at this Frozen Four and his ability to jet into the zone and break up the usual monotony of cycling on the boards in the least threatening part of the offensive zone is a crucial advantage Michigan has over an ND team that's extremely adept at forcing dump-ins and making it hard to generate scoring opportunities afterwards. Hughes is now playing 25-30 minutes, during which Michigan should be killing it 5v5.
Hope ND's slide continues. ND's desire to win 2-1 every game worked out great until a couple months ago, when they started dropping a bunch of games. Since that Michigan series in early January ND finished the regular season 5-6-1; while they've gotten back on track in the postseason, their four wins have all been by one goal, two of them in overtime, in games that were dead even by shots. That 67% above from KRACH is bunk, I say.
Hughes carries the puck into the zone and starts down the wing long enough to draw a defender, Gilbert, toward him. Gilbert is wise not to step up and into Hughes because Raabe is coming down the wing and, as far as timing is concerned, in excellent position to receive a drop pass.
Hughes waits until Gilbert gets close before making his move. He sees that Gilbert’s moving more or less in a straight line toward the boards, so he cuts up toward the blue line and moves laterally across it.
Adam Winborg is the Michigan skater in the blue box below. Dawson Cook is the Notre Dame skater in the blue box below. Quinn Hughes is the puck carrier in the screen cap below. Two of the people in said screen cap have just noticed that Winborg is headed for the front of the net. One of them has the puck and is in good position to shoot, and the other has to shift his weight and chase Winborg.
Winborg keeps his blade on the ice and Hughes’ shot hits it and goes airborne. The puck goes in over Morris’ shoulder in one of the only ways he can be beaten.
[After THE JUMP: good defense creates offense, though crazy accuracy and puck luck helps, too]
Sea of red. Georgia played Notre Dame last weekend and this is what it looked like:
Old friend of the blog Braves and Birds has an article about this remarkable screenshot, pointing out that this was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for Georgia fans and they reacted accordingly. Somewhat similar scenes might play out if other fanbases were afforded an opportunity to go see a college football cathedral instead of a sterile NFL stadium that still smelled of Phil Simms:
...the reaction of Dawg fans to the chance to travel to South Bend is a reminder that there is huge, untapped demand among big college football fan bases to see their teams play other elite programs on the road and not at NFL stadiums.
One way to illustrate this point is to look at how the most popular programs have never visited one another. Here are the top 10 in attendance from 2016: Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Penn State, Texas, Georgia, and Nebraska. There are 90 potential home-and-home combinations among those teams. In over a century of football, 33 of these matchups have never happened. That’s a bevy of road trips that big fan bases have never gotten to take.
I say "somewhat" because Notre Dame is especially vulnerable to this kind of takeover because of the nature of their fanbase and ticketing. Large chunks of the fanbase merely put their names in a lottery for certain games annually. The proportion of season ticket holders is (probably) much lower than other schools due to the national nature of ND's fanbase. Also these fans have a lot to pay attention to, what with the Yankees, Duke, and Manchester United all existing. With Notre Dame at a low ebb it might make sense for a frontrunner in NYC to sell his tickets in a way that it doesn't for someone who shows up to every game every year.
Unfortunately irrelevant. Oklahoma took OSU to the woodshed in their own building on Saturday. This was fun, but as I was watching it I was struck by how irrelevant it was for Michigan's chances down the road. Oklahoma's offense is built to neutralize defensive line advantages by using a metric ton of misdirection and the threat of the QB's legs. Ian Boyd has a breakdown of what happened, nearly all of which is unreplicable by Michigan—at least as they stand now.
Boyd accidentally twists the knife a bit at the end:
It pays to have a senior QB going on four years of starting, with a knack for playmaking off the cuff, when you are trying to get after a top-five opponent on the road.
Michigan can't get their QB to the OSU game healthy about half the time and never when he's a senior.
If it doesn't make sense it's probably not true. Basic advice for basic columnists, but apparently necessary:
Within the piece, Lewis' mother Tina Henderson told a former Ole Miss assistant that LSU had offered $650,000 for the services of her son.
If even close to the truth, that amount of money changes everything we know about cheating in college athletics. If even close to the truth, this case isn't so much about Ole Miss cheating but the lengths any wrongdoer would be willing to go.
And there is reason to believe $650,000 is close to the truth. I checked with the story's author, Steven Godfrey, and he said confirmed the figure wasn't a typo on his part or the person transcribing the testimony.
Instead we are supposed to believe that Leo Lewis took barely more than 10% of that to play for Mississippi State. The inclusion of the LSU number throws that whole article into doubt, because it makes it look like Godfrey is just repeating what people tell him without sanity checking anything. IE, Godfrey is being Steven Godfrey.
If LSU genuinely offered over a half-million dollars for Leo Lewis, 1) he'd be at LSU and 2) LSU's hypothetical budget for their #5 2015 class is... what, ten million dollars? Of private money? Cumong man.
Facing blitzes, Speight completed just over 33 percent of his throws, as opposed to completing 61.1 percent with no pressure. On the season, he's completing just over 51.9 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. ...
Through two games when Speight is passing in the middle of the field between the numbers, he has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 396 yards. Outside the numbers on the left and right side of the field, when out of the pocket, Speight only has completed 10 percent of his passes for 6 yards.
The first paragraph above does help paint a picture of a guy who gets sped up and loses his mechanics; that latter bin is almost all last resort scramble drill stuff, I'd imagine. Also I see "10 percent" in a paragraph with "76.4 percent" and assume that's exactly ten throws. Still very limited data there.
Out. Donovan Jeter will miss the season with an injury. Jeter had bulked up to 290 and was pushing for time at three tech—3-3-5 nose 50% of the time now, I guess. That was the one spot on the front that could sustain a hit with Dwumfour and Marshall providing additional, non-true-freshman depth.
"We got some things fixed there," Harbaugh said. "It wasn't Donovan Peoples -- when we watched the film, these gunners got out too fast. And then they're making their block next to Donovan."
He didn't have an opportunity to field a couple of those punts because of his own teammates. The last one he had an opportunity on was very very bad and on him since there was no teammate in the area; in the stands we speculated that he'd lost it in the sun.
Another pronunciation note. I am bad at pronouncing things, but I can't be held responsible for "McCune" when it's not spelled like that. I am coping. Thank you for your cards and letters. Similarly, Tyree Kinnel:
"It's Kinn-ill," Kinnel said Monday night on the "Inside Michigan Football" radio show. "A lot of people say Ka-nell. It's been like that all of my life, so I'm used to it."
Life is a struggle, and never more so than when you're saying something out loud that you've mostly—or only—read before. Or trying to say Rod Gilmore's name more than once.
Nothing is any of those colors except the helmet: urine when you're dehydrated. The helmet comes nowhere near anything else on the uniform. They've got as many design elements as you put on your rad-ass logo the first time you ever opened up your pirated copy of photoshop in seventh grade. Also:
2. "Authentic Irish Pub" in suburban upstate New York lookin' ass font. Guy who has never left his hometown but never shuts up about how Irish he is ass font. This font is so dumb, if you let your eyes lose focus, the letters automatically rearrange into "You know, the Guinness they have in Ireland is different and much better than here in the US."
These are the worst things Under Armour does annually.
I hesitate to suggest that Michigan won't do similar things under Harbaugh because not even he can stand against the tide by himself, but so far so good. Last year's all-white road uniforms were sharp and we haven't had uniformz announced or even rumored. It is possible. Texas, Alabama, and USC have largely or even entirely avoided uniforms that look like a wrestler's entrance video.
This is spending on guys like Erik Campbell, TJ Weist, Bam Richards, Devin Bush Sr, etc. Michigan almost doubled its spending on support staff in Harbaugh's first year, hitting 2.7 million. The number they landed on doesn't seem like a coincidence:
In its 2013-14 NCAA financial report, Alabama reported spending $2.7 million on football support staff. … Clemson reported spending $2.5 million on football support staff in 2013-14, up from $480,000 about a decade ago.
Harbaugh asked and got the same budget as the two teams who played for the national title this year.
Michigan's recruiting expenses also saw an uptick, but I don't know if these numbers account for Satellite Camp World Tour 1.0 or not; either way the financial impact of those tours is going to be a slight increase in a number best described as "piddling."
Michigan was good at kickoffs. Michigan was 17th nationally in opponent drives following a kickoff that started at the 25 or worse and 16th when they tried to return kickoffs past the 25 themselves. That success rate was only 57% despite ranking in the top 20—so much of the value in a kick return is the 50 yards at the end that almost never happen but sometimes do.
I think they'll be good in both departments this year. Kenny Allen got good hang time and a lot of touchbacks, and whoever Michigan opts for as a returner is going to be fast and mean.
More expansion, hooray. If the Big 12 is going to expand they should just take BYU and Houston and be done with it. Houston doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the same reason Pitt was never seriously considered by the Big Ten—footprint rules everything around me—but when the other options are Cincinnati, Memphis, UConn, and directional Floridas, Houston starts to look mighty appealing anyway. So of course a former president of CBS sports recommends UConn:
For that reason, Pilson advised the Big 12 to take a page from the Big Ten’s playbook. Much as the Big Ten, a traditionally Midwestern league, recently added Rutgers and Maryland to plant its flag near several East Coast population centers, the Big 12, whose members reside in Great Plains states and Texas (and West Virginia), ought to invite Connecticut to join, Pilson said.
“Having Texas and Oklahoma and the other major Big 12 schools playing in the Northeast would create additional revenue opportunities and make it a more attractive conference in terms of new sponsors and a better linear television deal,” Pilson said.
That seems nuts to me. The Big 12 does not have a network and won't have one unless Texas gives the LHN up, which no. If Texas really wants exposure in a different part of the country they'll blow the Big 12 up.
Invite Purdue and Rutgers to join the Big 12 conference.
Yep, you heard me. Purdue University and Rutgers University would be great fits for your fledgling conference, since they really round out and diversify what the conference needs most. And to help you out, I even made a pro/con list for each school and why they'd work in the Big 12. …
The only assurance Texas, or any school for that matter, could truly give to any newcomer is the "grant of rights" to the league that is currently in place. That grant for Texas and all of teams of the Big 12 extends to 2025.
Yet I don't see an extension of the grant of rights occurring based on my discussion with a high-ranking Texas official this morning.
"I do not like any of the choices," the official said. "(I) want to watch to see if there is a move to extend the grant of TV rights. I will fight that tooth and nail."
Per Burton, Texas's president and chancellor both prefer the Big Ten to the Pac-12 or SEC. Oddly, he says "expect Texas to ask for an annual trip to Chicago and to either of the East Coast markets," which almost certainly can't happen without making the division structure insane. Chicago they can manage since the West division in that event is going to be Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas, Northwestern, Illinois, and whichever other Big 12 refugee hypothetically comes along.
By the way, at that point you're back down to playing the other division 25% of the time even with nine conference games. Hooray expansion.
Hurst has been on the Uber clock this summer, logging miles and earning money, in addition to interning at Blue Lion Fitness in Ann Arbor.
“I’ve just done it for extra cash, pretty much that’s it,” the affable 6-foot-2, 282-pound lineman said. “I definitely like the flexibility. I can work whenever, which helps with my schedule with (football) workouts and working at Blue Lion Fitness.”
Once camp begins Aug. 8, however, Hurst’s Uber days will be over. But he’s enjoyed the experience, especially longer trips to the airport which net $22.
“Jake [Butt] is a character. We talk trash every day. He likes to get better. He knows in the NFL there are going to be DBs who are quick and fast and strong, kind of like me, who are going to cover him, and he’s going to have to get open. That’s why he likes the competition. He’ll go against the linebacker, but he knows if he can get open on a DB, he can get open on a linebacker, so Jake and I go at it every day.”
Thomas offered a Butt scouting report as well:
“Jake’s going to be probably a first-round pick,” Thomas said. “Jake has got strides. It’s not like he’s super fast, but he has long strides that make him fast. He’s really good with his double moves and he’s really good at sticking, stopping and going. If you don’t slow him down, he will leave you. He’s sneaky fast.”
Obviously this exercise assumes no injuries, and I ignored Lawrence Marshall who'll probably see some playing time.
Interested in your take,
Other than the fact that you project only 80% of the strongside end snaps that seems about right to me. (I assume that was meant to be 60% Gary.)
Over this offseason I've gotten a bunch of pushback about my assertion that Gary probably won't start, pushback that now seems on point after various insiders have asserted that Wormley will stick at 3-tech and Charlton will move over to WDE. But that was always a distinction without much of a difference. Even if Gary was nominally behind Wormley at SDE there would be sufficient snaps available when Wormley rests or Michigan goes to a pass rush package for Gary to make an impact. We're talking about a half-dozen snaps per game going to one guy or the other guy.
The only slight corrections I'd make would be to bump Glasgow up to 60 or 65% and bump Charlton to 70% at the expense of three-man lines.
No doubt there's been a recruiting uptick since Harbaugh came aboard....Rashan Gary is nice. But what about our lower ranked pickups? I seem to remember you comparing the success of Tressel 3-stars to Carr 3-stars, and the difference was stark.
Without the benefit of seeing how they pan out, how do you think JH's less-heralded guys will stack up to those of previous regimes? vs. Tressell/Urban? Curious if you've noticed a difference in talent/potential based on film and summer camp performance.
I don't remember that post but there is certainly a difference in quality amongst the vast plain of three-stars, one that's relatively easy to discern. However, that difference isn't based on evaluations I make with my amateur read on Hudl highlight films. It's more about the shape of a kid's recruitment.
There are three stars who end up on the radar of major schools, and three stars who do not. Maybe a Josh Uche or a Nate Johnson comes with sufficient questions for a rating service to correctly peg them a three-star, but it's also correct for teams like Florida or Notre Dame to go after those guys when their plan A gentlemen are uncertain or head elsewhere.
When we're talking about Michigan commits the players in question have tautologically garnered big time interest. That's one vote of confidence; it's better to have other votes from top 25 schools. There's a set of three stars who are targets of multiple big schools and a set who are not. My read on how the 2016 composite three-stars fit in those bins:
Multiple options: Nick Eubanks, Khaleke Hudson, Nate Johnson, Josh Uche, Eddie McDoom, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Michael Dwumfour.
Hard to tell: Kingston Davis.
Not so much: Sean McKeon, Devin Gil, Josh Metellus, Stephen Spanellis.
I believe everyone in the "multiple options" section could have gone to one of PSU, Florida, Auburn, or Oregon, along with a number of other schools on that level. Davis almost certainly could have gone to Nebraska and maybe LSU or Florida but probably not. The four guys in "not so much" didn't field much if any interest from top-half Power 5 schools. Four guys out of a class of 28 is quite good.
It's hard to get a solid read on the number of comparable prospects in earlier classes. Awareness of the "offer"/OFFER distinction has crept across college football gradually and many earlier recruiting assessments take listed offers at face value when they probably shouldn't. There's more wobble in older assessments, but here's my estimate of the number of Michigan three-stars that didn't seem to get a whole lot of interest from top 20 programs. (I'm not counting MSU here since they only started recruiting like a top 20 team last year and are no longer.) You'll find some excellent players on these lists, but all told it's better to be noticed by more than one big program:
2012 (9/22): Matt Godin, Kaleb Ringer, Sione Houma, Jehu Chesson , Drake Johnson, Willie Henry, Ben Braden, Jeremy Clark, Blake Bars. Godin and Bars might have had real interest from Notre Dame.
2013 (7/28): Jaron Dukes, Csont'e York, Channing Stribling, Khalid Hill, Da'Mario Jones, Reon Dawson, Scott Sypniewski. I'm leaving out kickers but counting Sypniewski here since long snappers are usually walkons; Harbaugh just got the #2 guy in the country as a PWO. Dan Samuelson and Ross Douglas were Nebraska and PSU decommit three-stars and the only guys in that range who had big time offers.
2014 (6/16): Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Wilton Speight, Maurice Ways, Noah Furbush, Brandon Watson, Brady Pallante. Jared Wangler was a PSU decommit.
2015 (5/14): Karan Higdon, Grant Perry, Keith Washington, Jon Runyan Jr, Nolan Ulizio. Shelton Johnson was a battle against FSU; Reuben Jones against Nebraska.
Lone wolf fliers comprised over a third of the four Michigan classes before Harbaugh got a full recruiting cycle, and just 14% of the 2016 class. So yes, the 2016 class's three stars are a different caliber.
Given Harbaugh's tendency to rack up decommits it's too early to state with any confidence how many will be in the 2017 class. As of right now I'd put Joel Honigford (Oregon), J'Marick Woods (VT, maybe LSU), Phillip Paea (Oregon), and maybe Andrew Stueber (Tennessee) into the "major target" category" and Ben Mason, Carter Dunaway, Chase Lasater, and Kurt Taylor into the "not so much" category. (I'm assuming Benjamin St Juste ends up a composite four star.)
Home/road imbalance be damned, Michigan-Notre Dame is back, and that is cause for raising your arms in triumph like you're Jim Harbaugh beating the Irish in 1985. Before the 2013 game, I put together a GIFs post of the best moments of the rivalry (from a Michigan perspective, at least), and today marks a great time to update and revisit it.
[For many more GIFs from Notre Dame games of the past, hit THE JUMP.]
The Michigan-Notre Dame football series will resume on Sept. 1, 2018, when the Irish host the Wolverines in the season opener before a Oct. 26, 2019, date at Michigan Stadium.
As the previous post notes I'm surprised that it's at ND in 2018, from the perspective of both teams. I'd rather have ND on the schedule than Arkansas no matter which team gets a home date. Meanwhile having the ND game 2019 in the meat of the conference schedule is odd. Michigan has Penn State before that game and Maryland after.
Krasnoo says Michigan will eat a two million dollar buyout of "the Arkansas game", which I take to mean the entire 2018/2019 series since cancelling just the 2018 game at home seems super super unlikely.
The AP report says that the 2018 game will be played in South Bend, which would be crazy for Michigan and pretty odd for Notre Dame. Thanks to Good Ol' Dave Brandon even years going forward feature MSU/OSU on the road. Replacing a home game against an SEC team with another road game against a tough opponent doesn't make a ton of sense. Also thanks to the contract Brandon was blindsided with, ND got the final game before the series hiatus.
Meanwhile Notre Dame already has season-ticket tentpole games in 2018, when both Stanford and Florida State travel to South Bend. They've got USC at home in 2019; their second best home game is against Virginia Tech and third best is either Virginia or BC. It doesn't make sense for either program to have the series start in South Bend. We'll see, apparently soon.
It's not quite official, but the head coaches of both ends of the rivalry more or less announced today that Michigan-Notre Dame will resume in the near future. Brian Kelly was more specific than Harbaugh:
“We’re going to make that happen,” the seventh-year Notre Dame head football coach said Thursday, relaxing in his office. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re going to make it happen.
“It’s something (ND athletic director) Jack Swarbrick and I want to do, and we’re going to get that game back together. We’ve got some challenges, but I think we can pull it off.”
“We want to do it as soon as we can,” Kelly said. “We’ve got Michigan State home-and-home the next two years (2016-17), and then we’re hoping to. We want to get in on the schedule as quickly as possible after that.”
For his part, Harbaugh said they'd been working on resuming the series for "7, 8, 9 months" and that there were Ts to cross and Is to dot. Hoping those details include a rivalry trophy portraying Dave Brandon hunched over a computer, typing furiously.
Michigan currently has home games against Arkansas and SMU lined up for 2018 and an open date September 8th. It's an MSU/OSU away year and they should get the next home game in the series. ND currently has two openings in 2018, with Ball State scheduled for September 8th. They already have a couple of highly attractive home games in Stanford and FSU; their 2019 home schedule is currently pretty weak, with USC and not much else of interest. Resuming the series with a Michigan home game in 2018 appears to make sense for everybody.
The main problem: adding a game at ND in 2019 would lock Michigan into just five home games, which I assume is unacceptable. If the Arkansas return game gets moved—or that series gets flat-out canceled—they can get up to six. That would still be the fewest home games Michigan Stadium has seen since the move to 12 games. The ever-increasing blizzard of TV money makes it more likely Michigan can weather that financially, but it's a problem. One that the two sides appear to be working through.