Thursday, September 4, 2014
Buckeyes, Irish rub new matchups in Michigan's face
By Austin Ward
Notre Dame had already made its intentions to leave Michigan clear, and both sides had seemingly put on a brave face with the end of their relationship looming on Saturday.
But it turns out the Fighting Irish already had a dance partner lined up and actually couldn't wait to rub it in the faces of the Wolverines. The new flame obviously had no misgivings about coming public either, since Ohio State was surely giddy at the chance to show off its sparkling new dates after swooping in for a couple of matchups that used to belong to their most hated rival.
OK, maybe the love triangle isn't quite accurate. And compared to what Michigan has had for years, the Buckeyes are only going to get a brief fling anyway. But Ohio State and Notre Dame teaming up to announce the storied programs would be meeting in 2022 and '23 just two days before the last scheduled edition of the series between the Irish and Wolverines definitely seems like more than mere coincidence.
For Notre Dame, it's another example that it will be just fine on its own, like it always has been. It doesn't need Michigan around to ensure that the schedule is filled with marquee matchups, even though it's still weird to picture a season that doesn't include those two teams hooking up and comparing historical résumés.
And while the Buckeyes have been steadily, aggressively stocking up on powerhouse programs to add to their future slates, including a two-game set with Texas that will impressively coincide with the Notre Dame series, the Irish now becomes the crown jewel of the matchups down the road -- and it probably could have never happened without Michigan being spurned in the process.
That's a win for both sides in the new series, and if Michigan's feelings get a little hurt in the process, that's just a bonus for Brian Kelly and Urban Meyer.
After so long together and all those unforgettable moments, perhaps the Irish could have waited a couple days to pay proper respect to the relationship. But maybe those "chicken" comments wore them down, and they couldn't resist fighting back in some small way before the teams even hit the field this weekend.
Notre Dame now gets to show off how easy it is for them to move on and find somebody new, and Ohio State is never going to miss out on a chance to try to make its rival jealous. That just leaves Michigan alone on the outside -- with nothing to cheer for but mutual destruction in Columbus in 2022 and South Bend in '23.