Will USC be forced to end football rivalry with Notre Dame?

Recently Fox national football pundit Colin Cowherd made waves with his inflamory suggestion that USC should drop Notre Dame from its schedule. USC football’s schedule has included playing the Fighting Irish every year since 1926 with the exception of two years during World War II and a season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cowherd opined,“USC is going to have schedules going forward where they open with Michigan. Three weeks later they’re at Penn State. Two weeks later they’re at Oregon Ohio State. Later they have to play the Buckeyes again in the conference championship – and then they may play them a third time in the playoffs In a perfect year, no thank you.”

Cowherd makes it clear that the move to remove Notre Dame from their schedule is one of respect. Notre Dame has been a top 20 program for the better part of the last decade, and with the way Marcus Freeman is recruiting, they don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.

My complaint about Cowherd is that if anyone is to be removed, it should be the second tough out-of-conference game, like LSU this year and Ole Miss next year. Instead of packing the schedule with out-of-conference games, we’ve seen over the past decade, such as a home-and-home series with the Texas Longhorns and a neutral site game with the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jerry World in Texas, fill these games with cream puffs like the powers in the Big Ten do. The SEC plays only eight conference games, so when they occasionally schedule a challenging game, it’s like a ninth conference game that schools in the Big Ten will face.

Colin Cowherd admits that he’s not much of a sports traditionalist, and he makes the compelling argument that College football turns back on tradition when realignment shredded the beautiful tapestry that was the regionality of the sport. However, that does not mean that every tradition needs to be removed from college football. While the recent decades of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry have not lived up to the past billing of the series, there still have been many memorable games that have decided the outcome of Heisman Trophy battles and college football national championships.

Who knows if future Lincoln Riley versus Marcus Freeman matchups will live up to some of the great battles between legends such as Howard Jones and Knute Rockne or John McKay and Ara Parseghian?  It might not, but the USC-ND rivalry is woven too tightly into the fabric of Trojan lore to be replaced by a new rivalry with Michigan or Ohio State – they have their own thing.  No other game has produced more national championships, Heismans, NFL draft picks, first-round picks or All-Americans. Its place in sports ranks among the most iconic rivalries, such as Duke vs. North Carolina, Palmer vs. Nicklaus, Lakers vs. Celtics, and Yankees vs. Red Sox. This legacy must be safeguarded and will continue to be.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire