Brian Kelly says Notre Dame-Michigan is a regional rivalry, Brady Hoke disagrees
Notre Dame and Michigan is Saturday's premier primetime game on the college football schedule as well as the site for ESPN's College GameDay. Does that mean it's a national game? The coaches of each team disagree.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says it's a "big regional" game, while Michigan coach Brady Hoke disagrees.
"I really haven't seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries," Kelly said on a conference call. "I've seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.
"For me, I've been in Michigan a long time, I've always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But in the Notre Dame history books, this game has (been) played, but obviously there have been some years where it hasn't been played for a number of years."
Kelly's comments are perhaps related to the fact that the game won't be played for the near future. The Irish's trip to Ann Arbor is the last in who-knows-how-long; the last game scheduled in the series is 2014.
The teams have played 40 times since 1887. While that's a number that doesn't come close to other rivalries, Hoke thinks the matchup of the two powers has national significance.
"'GameDay' has been here six times for this football game," Hoke said. "That's pretty significant, if they're coming, whether it's on this campus or in South Bend.
"So, it must have some sort of national appeal."
National appeal that perhaps stems from Notre Dame's television contract on NBC?
Whether Kelly likes it or not, because of that special stature of Notre Dame, little of what it does is regional and is instead national. With the proliferation of college football on TV, it's a similar argument to saying the SEC is a regional league. While SEC passion is certainly enhanced in the areas that its teams play in, it's become a national league given its BCS success and prominence across national television.
And unfortunately for college football, Saturday night's game is just one of two left on the schedule. The (possible) end of Notre Dame-Michigan isn't alone because of conference realignment and the ending of other traditional rivalries, but just because something is happening more often doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.