September 27, 2012
NCAA's Notre Dame decision with Michigan hurts rivalries
By TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency
First, it was the Texas A&M Two-Step.
Now, it's the Irish Jig.
Can we please stop with the happy feet?
If you haven't already heard, another one of NCAA college football's best rivalries is taking a hit. Notre Dame is suspending its series with Michigan -- beginning in 2014 -- because of the Indiana school's shift in sports to the ACC. (If you're baffled by a school from the midwest joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, get in line.)
Fresh off signing to play ACC teams five times a year, the Fighting Irish opted out of its three-year rolling contract with the Wolverines to free up space in the yearly 12-game schedule. It's quite possible the two traditional programs won't face each other again until 2020.
So "¦ gone is the longstanding tradition of this game and the hatred that dates back nearly 100 years when Michigan played a key role in keeping Notre Dame from joining the Big 10.
Gone is a much-ballyhooed Big Blue-Fighting Irish game that is annually a classic, often coming down to the final minute of action.
All for the almighty dollar.
Of course, money makes the world go round -- and the jump to the ACC by Notre Dame is all about cash. Meanwhile, the loss of one of the year's top tilts for many fans is considered a big blow, although not in the pocketbook, because Notre Dame cashes in bigtime on TV revenue no matter the opponent.
And all this comes on the heels of the Texas A&M Aggies making a move to the Southeast Athletic Conference that kicked in this season -- again, check the geography on that jump -- which means no annual games with longtime rivals Texas or Oklahoma or any other teams within four hours of College Station.
This straight from the Texas A&M official athletic website -- "As a member of the SEC, Texas A&M will have national visibility, greater financial opportunity and conference stability. And, culturally, it's a great fit."
Oh, ya, there's loads of similarities between Texans and citizens of the southeastern states.
OK, so it's not the end of the world. New rivalries will be struck over time and classics will be staged.
But thanks to a century or so of football feuding, the big rivalries of college football are among the best in sports.
Gimme back my games.
FIRST & GOAL
Missouri also made that move to the SEC and was welcomed rudely on the road last Saturday. The Tigers got popped in the mouth by No. 7 South Carolina 31-10 and held to a season-low 254 yards by Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks to go to 0-2 vs. SEC teams. It's gonna be a long first SEC campaign for Mizzou " … Check out this stat-line from Week 4 -- Old Dominion QB Tyler Heinicke set an NCAA Div. 1 record with 730 yards against New Hampshire. He went 55-of-79 for five TDs " … Pundits are putting No. 4 Florida State in the national championship picture for good reason. I'm thinking No. 11 Florida, which got 203 passing yards Saturday from ever-improving sophomore pivot Jeff Driskel, is tops in FLA. We may not find that out until Nov. 24, when the Gators hook up with the host Seminoles " … What's up with No. 14 Ohio State's sluggish starts? In the last three Buckeyes wins, they've struggled early to take care of business. That can't happen Saturday in their first road game -- against No. 20 Michigan State. Then again, the Spartans aren't that good. Sure, the defence has been strong, but State doesn't have the 'O' to be a top-25 team. Struggling for three-plus quarters vs. Eastern Michigan last Saturday should've knocked them off the AP Top 25 poll.
FOURTH & INCHES
Penn State haters are tired of seeing them on TV every week. Can't blame them there. I've been a Nittany Lions fan since forever, but why are they getting so much airtime nationally after the Sandusky crimes and the NCAA sanctions? They should be pretty much persona non-grata at this point. There's no punishment there " … Michigan hasn't allowed any points in first-quarter play this season. Now, if only Denard Robinson and Big Blue could score more early "¦ Good news for Wisconsin. RB Montee Ball, who conked his head last week, will get the ball for the Badgers in Saturday night's nationally televised tilt with host Nebraska. But Wisconsin's not the same without QB Russell Wilson, who's raising eyebrows with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks " … Are you like me in that the best way to kick of Saturdays is by watching analyst Lee Corso make his final, dramatic -- and comedic -- prediction on ESPN's College GameDay? Hilarious.
On Twitter: @SUNToddSaelhof