Brian Kelly doesn't sound like he's wanting Notre Dame's series with Michigan and Michigan State to permanently end.
The two schools from the north have become annual opponents for Notre Dame. But Michigan and Notre Dame's last scheduled game is in September and Michigan State isn't on the schedule for the next two seasons until the schools have games in 2016 and 2017 on the slate.
"When [athletic director Jack Swarbrick] and I sit down and we start discussing 'what do you want to do?' we don't start or end that without having Michigan or Michigan State part of that conversation, and there's an SEC school involved in that conversation, as well," said Kelly, who sounded optimistic that Michigan would be open to future games. "I can assure you that Michigan, Michigan State and an SEC school is involved in those conversations. How that pans out, I'm telling you, it's a very complicated deal."
However, Michigan told ESPN that Notre Dame hadn't contacted the school about rekindling the rivalry in the future. While we realize Kelly said it's complicated, where there's a will, there's a way, right?
Many are going to speculate about the identity of the SEC school that Kelly is discussing. A game against an SEC team in the near future wouldn't be all that surprising because of the SEC's non-conference major opponent mandate. Notre Dame fits the parameters of the conference's requirement that all schools schedule a team from a power conference starting in 2016.
The last time Notre Dame played an SEC team in the regular season was in 2005, when the Fighting Irish played Tennessee. Since then it's played LSU and Alabama in bowl games.
In September of 2013, Kelly called Notre Dame's rivalry with Michigan a "regional" one before backtracking a day later. As an independent, it behooves Notre Dame to keep both Michigan schools on the schedule if possible even if you discount the impact of the rivalries. The stronger schedule Notre Dame has, the better it is for College Football Playoff purposes.
And for Michigan and Michigan State, the potential availability of Notre Dame is an easy way to have a major opponent for each team's non-conference schedule and also help quell the thought of having to play a Big Ten opponent in a non-conference game.
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