Harbaugh ‘open’ to rekindling Notre Dame series

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan running back Derrick Green is wrapped up by the Notre Dame defense in a game last season.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he is open to returning Notre Dame to the Wolverines’ football schedule.

Harbaugh, speaking on the Big Ten conference call Tuesday, was asked about that possibility after Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly last Wednesday indicated there’s a movement to reunite the two teams on the football field.

The two teams played their final game for the foreseeable future last fall at Notre Dame Stadium.

“I’d have a conversation with Coach Kelly about that before anybody else,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “But (I) would be open to it, yes.”

Kelly was interviewed last week by NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, a Michigan alum, who asked if Michigan would play Notre Dame again. Kelly said there is a strong sentiment to renew the series.

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Former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he received a letter from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick while in South Bend for the game in 2012, indicating the Irish wanted to opt out of the contract after three games.

“I think we’re going to see it happen,” Kelly told Eisen. “I think it’s trending up. It’s something we need to get in line to get that going. That’s something everybody wants to get going and get Michigan back on the schedule. I know we’re going to be working hard to see if we can get that done.”

Kelly was asked if he’s aware of conversations between the schools regarding future scheduling.

“I’m not privy to them,” Kelly said. “That happens across the street where the real important people are. But I know this, I’ll just say using words like trending up, this is something that (people) want to occur from things I’m hearing.”

The next year that Michigan has an open date on its schedule is 2018.

Michigan played Notre Dame twice during Harbaugh's career, and the Wolverines won those meetings in 1985 and 1986.

Michigan has open dates in 2018 and 2019 after playing Arkansas home and away, respectively. There are three open dates listed for the 2019 schedule on Michigan’s official website, but Army reportedly will play at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 7, the week after playing at Arkansas.

The Wolverines have several big names in their future non-conference schedules as home-and-away series including Virginia Tech (2020, 2021), UCLA (2022, 2023), Texas (2024,2027) and Oklahoma (2025,2026).