Top-10 finishes for U-M and ND, past and present, and a different take on the rivalry

Submitted by Human Torpedo on August 30th, 2018 at 10:02 PM

To get a better idea of why this clash of titans began to lose its luster, let's revisit its pinnacle which IMO was the 1992 game, which ultimately ended in a tie that year. Leading up to that year, from 1988-92, Michigan finished in the top-10 every year and Notre Dame only missed it once in 1991.

After those five golden years for both schools, lots of interesting changes happened to the college football landscape and to the schools' ability to adapt to those changes. The number of other independents Notre Dame could regularly challenge dwindled dramatically. 1992 was the year the transition to 85 scholarships officially started. Wisconsin had a program-changing season in 1993 and officially declared an end to the Big Two Little Eight. Penn State compounded that that same year by joining our league for football. Not to mention Lou Holtz, a guy with a higher winning percentage than Carr, had to step down due to an inability to recruit to his option scheme anymore.

While Michigan handled the storm way better than Notre Dame did from 1997-2004 (Michigan had four top-10 finishes in the AP Poll to Notre Dame's zero), ultimately the combination of Ohio State's in-state recruiting dominance, the newer incarnation of the spread offense exploding and Carr's retirement ultimately made us succumb mediocrity ourselves. From 2005-present the programs have just two apiece (Michigan was barely top-10 in 2006 and 2016, Notre Dame was in 2005 and 2012).

So as we look to the future for this home-and-home revival of the series with ND, my question to you guys is will we and should we hope that BOTH programs return to their heyday to recapture that magical time from 1988-92? My personal answer is yes and yes. The pride and passion of these bluebloods is too immeasurable expect otherwise.

As much as we hate them, a lot of that our hostility towards them is bred from familiarity. I've come to terms with the fact that when my program sees ND across from them it's like looking in the mirror a bit. Whether it be the link of proteges by Woody Hayes to Ara and Bo, us sharing the sport of football as the origins to their program, their stadium being modeled after the Big House or the snobbish arrogance of our universities giving way to the aura of integrity (albeit not always upheld by both), we essentially are cut from the same cloth. And while we both may not always need each other, college football is always gonna need us to be together.

So as we begin our seemingly endless banter and trolling of one another Saturday, let's go forth and thrash them a bit more thankful that we have in a foil to our program we can actually relate to in ways those redneck Buckeyes and sex crazed Spartans can never hope to be


Communist Football

August 31st, 2018 at 8:49 AM ^

Hear hear Comrade. ND has always been my favorite rivalry. Back in the John Cooper / Earle Bruce days when we beat the Buckeyes with regularity, it was Notre Dame that was our de facto primary rival. And the games are always so much fun, with so many epic plays and last-minute hijinks. I hope this rivalry comes back once we're done with our non-conference obligations with Washington, UCLA, Texas, and Oklahoma


August 30th, 2018 at 10:53 PM ^

"...a lot of that our hostility towards them is bred from familiarity." Speak for yourself.

I hate them because they were always on tv every weekend (NBC) no matter how lame their game was.  I hate them for playing Army and Navy every year and pretending that they do so because of "tradition" rather than just an easy game against players who they outweigh by 60 pounds.  I hate them because they refer to the mural as "touchdown Jesus," which seems pretty sacrilegious for a religious school.  I hate them because they are over-hyped.  I hate them because of commentators going crazy over Ron Powlus (first four-time Heisman winner!).  I hate them for automatically getting a BCS invite if they finish in the top 8 of the regular season BCS rankings because they refuse to join a conference and are independent.  I hate them for for saying they put "real gold" in their helmet paint.  I hate them because Rudy is a stupid movie (he gets a meaningless sack when Notre Dame is winning by a lot). I hate them for acting like the school's academic standards are so much higher than every other school's standards.  I hate that the College Football Hall of Fame was in South Bend and it was lame when I made an effort to go there.

I do not hate them because of familiarity.  But let's be clear: I hate them.


August 30th, 2018 at 10:59 PM ^

Holtz’s decision to leave ND has always been a bit mysterious, but it wasn’t because he couldn’t recruit players to an option scheme. 

For starters, he was getting highly-touted recruits that weren’t option players. Rick Mirer and Ron Powlus weren’t recruited for the option. Holtz was not Tom Osborne; he ran option plays, but his was not some complex option scheme. Mirer and Powlus were big wins that were recruited to pass with running happening on the side. 

It’s not like option football didn’t exist. Tommie Frazier and Scott Frost were tearing it up in Lincoln at the same time, and Michael Vick ran similar quantities of option for Virginia Tech later in the decade. 

Recruiting was probably part of the issue, but not for scheme. Things were tense at Notre Dame at the time, with Holtz overshadowing the school and pushing for a reduction in academic requirements. ND, with its still-fresh NBC contract, its history, and a fair amount of arrogance, didn’t want to compromise, and was singed over the facts brought to light in “Under the Tarnished Dome” in 1994. 

ND had no idea that seeing Holtz out the door would usher in its most prolonged run of mediocrity in its history, but that’s what happened. 

I'm Batman

August 30th, 2018 at 11:23 PM ^

One of the Execs at the company my Dad used to work for was a Notre Dame alumni and booster. He told me in 93 when i was senior in high school at a bbq that Lou Holtz only had a couple seasons left at Notre Dame. His reasoning was no matter how well they did in the next few years, he would step down before he eclipsed Knute Rockne in wins, or something would come out and he would be replaced.

Lou finished with 100 wins. Knute had 105. 

According to him, no coach will ever surpass Knute in wins at Notre Dame. The school will not let it happen.


August 30th, 2018 at 11:51 PM ^

Knute Rockne is a stupid fucking name. There, I said it. 

Also, I don't know if I buy that. If urban were to get fired or step down from Ohio State, and Kelly was booted from domer land, he'd land at Notre Dame. I think Urban would do very well there and surpass knute dumb ass name Rockne and Irish nation would love it. 

I'm Batman

August 31st, 2018 at 12:08 AM ^

Urban is 54. If he ended up at Notre Dame in the next 3 years, he might be there for 6-8 tops. Winning an average of 12 games a season would only give him 96.

Like i said. That was a boosters words in 1993. After the last 30 years of Notre Dame football, and how big a business it has become in that time, none of that probably holds true anymore. But it does give pause to why Lou Holtz was ushered out for no real reason.

Indiana Blue

August 31st, 2018 at 7:53 AM ^

IMO ... Holtz was the best game day coach I think I've ever seen.  He's also an incredible motivational speaker.  But yes, the reality of Lou is that his past at Arkansas and Minnesota were catching up to him at ND ... and ND cut him loose before the real "tarnishing" could be linked at ND.  He is still the ultimate "domer-homer".

Go Blue!


August 31st, 2018 at 8:04 AM ^

I graduated from UofM in '93.... so I remember those days (in high school and college). Those were my formative years so I agree with you Human Torpedo!  I think Harbaugh would agree as well.  Nice to see them back on the schedule. It just seems right.