Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and lineman Taylor Lewan walk off the field after U-M beat Notre Dame 35-31. ERIC SEALS/DFP
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (USA TODAY/WZZM) - The looming end of the Michigan-Notre Dame series has left the Wolverines wondering what happened - or maybe knowing what did.
The Fighting Irish are invoking a contract clause to end the rivalry series after two more games: this season's night game at Michigan Stadium and next year in South Bend.
Michigan seems to think its resurgence on the field is a big factor.
"We have unbelievable rivalry games at Michigan," coach Brady Hoke said Monday, speaking to 750 attendees at the West Michigan Sports Commission's annual luncheon at the J.W. Marriott. "The Notre Dame, that rivalry, which they're chickening out of ... they're still going to play Michigan State, they'll play Purdue, they don't want to play Michigan."
He joked that it wasn't the decision he would have made.
Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick gave his notice of the cancellation to Michigan AD Dave Brandon on the field just before last year's game in South Bend, barely beating a deadline. The Irish said their scheduling had to change because the school was joining the ACC in other sports and has to play five ACC football games per year.
Hoke played to the Grand Rapids crowd repeatedly, discussing a local restaurant and talking about how much he enjoyed his time coaching at Grand Valley State in the early 1980s.
Among his stories, he told of his 1995 interview for an assistant coaching job at Michigan with then-coach Gary Moeller. They discussed Michigan's reputation for arrogance, which Moeller said he embraced. Hoke said, after that, he did as well. Monday, he cited unique things, such as Michigan's academic reputation, glee club, the basketball team's great run, Patrick Omameh being recognized for his community service and Taylor Lewan's decision to stay in school when he could have been the No. 1 overall pick in last month's NFL draft.
Hoke was asked about the possibility of paying college athletes, and he said they get enough with a free education, gear, meals, etc. He also said payment would come at the expense of other sports, which may be cut. He feels it's inevitable but hopes it's after he's done coaching.