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Notre Dame exercises option to drop Michigan games from 2015-17

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Dr. Saturday

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(US Presswire)

If you like the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry, be sure to enjoy the next two years because that's all we have left on the schedule.

[Related: More coverage from Irish Illustrated]

Notre Dame canceled its games against Michigan from 2015-17, according to the Associated Press. The AP obtained a letter, through a Freedom of Information Act request, from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon exercising a three-year out in the contract. The schools had agreed to take a hiatus in 2018-19. The last scheduled game between the two teams is 2014.

Michigan is already placing the blame on the Irish. Brandon was quoted by Michigan football's official Twitter feed @umichfootball as saying this wasn't the Wolverines' idea:

"The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame's and not ours," Brandon said.

It's hard not to connect this news to the news earlier this month that Notre Dame will play five games each year against ACC opponents, as part of the school's agreement to join the ACC for its other sports. With less scheduling flexibility, something had to give. And the first thing to go, apparently, was a rivalry between two of the most storied programs in the sport that dates back to 1887.

[Forde-Yard Dash: Is Ohio State getting value from E. Gordon Gee's high cost?]

The schools only played twice from 1910-77. After the Wolverines lost to Notre Dame in 1909, longtime Michigan coach and athletic director Fielding Yost's contempt for the Irish caused him to blackball Notre Dame from the Wolverines' schedule for decades. The series resumed in 1978 and has not gone more than two seasons without being played since then.

Swarbrick told CBSSports' Dennis Dodds he wants to keep USC, Stanford and Navy in the rotation with his new ACC commitments. Notice what those teams have in common? Not a Big Ten team among them. Notre Dame seems to be starting to distance itself from the Big Ten. More Maryland and NC State, less Michigan State and Purdue, perhaps. What fun.

Notre Dame-Michigan has been a marquee game for college football, something that is welcomed during a sometimes bland first few weeks of the season, so losing it is bad for the game. It's also another reason for fans to hate realignment. Already lost in the shuffling are rivalries like Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, Oklahoma-Nebraska and possibly BYU-Utah and Pitt-West Virginia. And now, instead of Michigan-Notre Dame, in a few years you'll get Notre Dame-Duke on a Saturday afternoon in mid-September.

Who wins with this news? It's hard to find a positive here.

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