Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh says ‘willingness on both parts’ needed to continue rivalry vs. Notre Dame

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media at Big Ten Media Days. (Chris Kwiecinski/MEDILL)

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Michigan will play Notre Dame for the first time since 2014 on September 1, renewing a rivalry between two of the winningest programs in college football.

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played in two games against the Fighting Irish as a player, said any continuation of the series against Notre Dame will come down to whether or not the two programs are willing to schedule more games.

“It’s one of those things where both parties are willing to put it on their schedule,” Harbaugh said.

The last time these two teams met at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish blanked the Brady Hoke-led Wolverines 31-0. When Notre Dame announced it was ending the series in 2014, Hoke drew the ire of the Irish faithful by saying the program was chickening out in the series.

Jim Harbaugh’s media day podium. (Chris Kwiecinski/MEDILL)

The Wolverines fired Hoke that same year. In 2016 Harbaugh made the moves to rekindle the series. According to the Detroit Free Press in July 2016, Michigan dropped a home-and-home series with Arkansas in order to schedule games against Notre Dame this year, and on October 26 in 2019.

Harbaugh said renewing the rivalry came simply through a phone call.

“Brian Kelly and I just talked about it on the phone, there never was any bad blood to discuss that I was aware of,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh noted the competition in the rivalry against the Irish stood out the most to him when he played Notre Dame as Michigan’s quarterback in 1985 and 1986, winning both contests.

The fourth-year Michigan coach dubbed the Irish a formidable opponent, saying they have an excellent team that is well-coached.

“I see on tape they’re a real good football team,” he said. “They’ve got many, many good players returning.”

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media at Big Ten Media Days. (Jake Riepma/MEDILL)