June 10, 2016
DETROIT – Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly were on the same field at the same time Friday afternoon.
They’re both also on the same page in terms of reigniting the rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame, with the goal of it starting the 2018 or 2019 season.
“I’ve been on board since the inception,” Harbaugh said on Friday at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Wayne State in Detroit. “It’s something that’s been working on for many months, going on seven, eight, nine months now. There are still some T’s to cross and I’s to dot, but I’ve been on board fully since the inception.”
Kelly, who addressed players at the conclusion of Sound Mind Sound Body on Friday, reiterated previous support for getting his Irish on the field against Harbaugh’s Wolverines.
“We’re still working on it,” Kelly said. “Obviously from our scheduling standpoint we’ve scheduled so far in advance and I think I’ve made it fairly public that I’d like to see this game happen and I know Jim wants to make it happen.
“We’ve got some hurdles that we’ve got to work through, but you’ve got two coaches that are committed to making it happen. I’m sure we’ll figure it out and get it done, but we’ve still got a little work to get it done.”
Michigan and Notre Dame were once slated to play 25 straight seasons, however the Irish opted out of the series and the teams last met in 2014 – a 31-0 win for Notre Dame. Kelly said an agreement that long would be difficult to put together.
“It’s hard for us to think in those terms because we have so many complexities within our schedule with the service academies, the ACC, Stanford and USC,” he said. “Stanford, USC and Navy are not coming off the schedule, as well as obviously our rotation with the ACC.”
Michigan has an open date on Sept. 8 in 2018, but Notre Dame is slated to host Ball State on the same day. Both schools have Sept. 7 open in 2019. Although Kelly said a long-term arrangement would be difficult, he’d still like it to be a continuous series.
“Ideally, I think if we’re just taking a step back and looking at it, we don’t want a gap,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense to have a huge gap. I think there were other factors that forced that gap and that was the impending move into the ACC, the uncertainty of what the landscape of college football looked like and two ADs that were not on the same page. That is all changed, I think we have a stabler ground, I think we have two coaches that want to play, I think we’re moving more towards something that makes sense like that.”
Kelly said a home-and-home setup would be ideal with Michigan. Notre Dame is also part of the annual “Shamrock Series,” which started in 2009 and features the Irish hosting a game at a neutral location.
“You have to have a give and take if it’s a shamrock situation,” Kelly said. “I think those are the kind of conversations we’re having right now. I can tell you for sure that both of us want to make it happen and we’ve got athletic directors that make those tougher decisions.”
Michigan and Notre Dame have met 42 times and the Wolverines hold a 24-17-1 edge in the series.
“I think the classic rivalries in college football are so much about rivalries geographically,” Kelly said. “The Power Fives have a tendency to pull some of those apart and Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State are some of those classic rivalries that we all remember – I certainly did growing up. We’re going to try hard to get those back together.”