Coach Kelly: Michigan Is Not A Big Notre Dame Rival

The final scheduled Notre-Dame-Michigan game at the Big House is Saturday, and coach Brian Kelly has now added to an already tense rivalry.

On Sunday, the Fighting Irish’s coach said he never really thought of Michigan as a Notre Dame rival. Speaking to reporters, Kelly revealed:

”I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries. I’ve seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.”

Kelly went on to add:

”For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time, I’ve always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game.”

The controversy surrounding the game started last year when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced in a letter to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon that Notre Dame was canceling scheduled games against Michigan for the 2015-2017 seasons. Following that letter, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the series.

Swarbrick fired back by noting the Notre Dame has joined the Atlantic Coast Conference for most sports. Under the team’s deal, they must play five football games a year against ACC opponents.

According to Kelly:

”We’re a team that a lot of people want to play, including Michigan, or Brady wouldn’t comment in that regard. We’re trying to do the best we can while maintaining the independent status and fulfilling the obligations we have with the ACC. We’d like to play everybody, but obviously we can’t.”

Brian Kelly may not see it, but the rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame has developed over more than 100 years of play. It was Michigan players who in 1887 traveled to Notre Dame to teach the game of football to the schools students.

It wasn’t until 1909 that the Fighting Irish defeated Michigan after suffering through eight straight loses.

Over the years, the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry has been paused several times, but ultimately the two teams have come back together to continue the rivalry.

Do you think Michigan and Notre Dame are engaged in a rivalry or just some big school competition?