If you haven't heard by now, Michigan and Notre Dame will resume their football rivalry soon.
This is an amazing day, and one that should never have happened; for whatever reason, Michigan balked at scheduling Notre Dame in their future schedules past 2014, forcing the rivalry to go on a hiatus. Part of it probably had to do with Notre Dame striking their current deal with the ACC to provide a partial schedule boost in 2013.
But anyway, it's back on, and that's great. College football thrives off of its rivalries, both in and out of conference. Michigan-Notre Dame in particular was a brand that caught national eyes and the collective imagination of college football fans everywhere. The Fighting Irish and the Wolverines. So much history between those two teams. So much hate. It was easily the biggest rivalry in the Midwest outside of Michigan-Ohio State.
So, why do I bring this up?
Well, as a Good Catholic Boy whose Godly Duty was to cheer for ol' Notre Dame before I came to my senses and cheered for my alma mater, it brings back many memories of gathering with family back in Michigan and screaming/cheering at the TV whenever something big happened. You don't get that feeling with a game like Michigan-Alabama in Cowboys Stadium.
Many former rivalries are currently dead, such as Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Missouri-Kansas (the Border War,) West Virginia-Pitt (The Backyard Brawl) and Florida-Miami (FL) due to conference realignment or other significant factors. There's no history with many OOC matchups anymore, and I blame the money for it. Call me a traditionalist.
It makes me appreciate the rivalries of the Mid-American Conference. The MAC has done a great job in keeping traditional rivalries together, whether in or out of conference. One of my favorite OOC matchups is the Battle for the Victory Bell between Miami and Cincinnati, one of the oldest rivalries in college football. Ball State and Indiana State, big rivals back in Division II days, occasionally play one another in an FCS-FBS matchup that is always unpredictable.
Of course, there's the in-conference rivalries. The Battle of I-75 (BGSU-Toledo,) The Battle for the Wagon Wheel (Kent State-Akron,) The Battle of the Bricks (Ohio-Miami,) and the Battle for the Victory Cannon (CMU-WMU) all represent the very best in college football. They may not be marquee matchups, but they have that fuzzy feeling that you just can't describe when it comes to a college ball game. There's an intimacy laced in hate, with a hint of mutual respect.
We as college sports fans live and die by rivalries, and the return of Michigan-Notre Dame will perhaps wake up others around the college sports landscape and give the fans what they really want.