If Michigan ends up with a gap on its 2020 football schedule, and Notre Dame is desperate to find teams to play, should U-M agree to a game with the Fighting Irish?
I know a lot of Michigan fans can't stand Notre Dame and don't want to play them ever again, but I've never felt that way about the Irish.
On the other hand, if Michigan bailing out the Golden Domers helps that program in a major way, I don't really know why U-M would do that. The Wolverines compete with the Irish in a lot of ways — on the recruiting trail, for prowess in the Midwest and occasionally, on the field — so helping them out seems counterproductive.
On the other, other hand, I like the idea of Michigan playing Notre Dame in a pinch this fall as opposed to a regional MAC school. Michigan does have bragging rights for a while after whooping Notre Dame this past fall, but another matchup would still be fun. As a fan of college football, I like good games a lot more than cupcake matchups.
So, schedule them. Beat their ass again. Move on to the next week.
I am firmly in the "to hell with Notre Dame" camp. Having been there before, it's a tremendous place, so my animosity isn't personal but driven by business. Plus, I love the movie Rudy. I just see no need/purpose/benefit to elevating another major institution within the Big Ten footprint. That strikes me as self-cannibalization. If they want perennial access to the Big Ten, they can join it then.
As for whether to plug the Irish into a potential scheduling hole come September, I'm an "absolutely not" unless...and this is my only exception...they agree to come here again this fall to make up for what they pulled back in 2014. They owe Michigan a game anyway.
Given the state of the rivalry, I would always welcome another opportunity to get a W against the Fighting Irish.
Throughout my upbringing, an early season contest against Notre Dame always helped forecast which direction Michigan’s season would travel. An early-season victory over Notre Dame bodes well for the rest of U-M’s campaign, so it may be worth the risk. However, outside of Michigan’s contest with Washington, both of the Wolverines’ non-conference games occur at home. If Notre Dame agrees to play in Ann Arbor, the potential game becomes much more favorable in my mind. Michigan has a clean .500 record against Notre Dame in the last five home games, so his would allow U-M an opportunity to take an upper hand in the rivalry.
While Notre Dame remains an unpopular rival to many Michigan fans, I've never held that same animosity, largely because I respect what the matchups have to offer - two traditional Midwest powers with history and prestige, that do things the right way, have beautiful campuses, are top academic schools, and have treated us to so many epic battles. So if it came down do it, and say Michigan did drop the Washington game, I'd want U-M to work out a deal with Notre Dame because a matchup of such magnitude will "feel" like football. It will give us, the fans, our best taste of normalcy, and it will be so much more exciting than three matchups with Mid-American Conference foes.
That said, I would not just give in to Notre Dame. I would use the Irish's desperation as leverage, demanding two games in return, both to be played in Ann Arbor in back-to-back upcoming seasons.