CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - College football powers Notre Dame and
Miami appear ready to play again for the first time since 1990.
The once-vaunted rivals are nearing a deal for a three-game
series, starting with a game at Chicago's Soldier Field in 2012, a
person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on
Friday. The game would be followed by a home-and-home, likely in
2014 and 2016.
The Chicago Tribune first reported that the teams were nearing a
deal to play in 2012.
Games between the Fighting Irish and the Hurricanes were
must-see television in the 1980s, when the schools engaged in one
of college football's most heated series - and those infamous
"Catholics vs. Convicts" T-shirts haven't been forgotten in South
Bend or South Florida, either.
Apparently, both sides decided it's time to forget the past.
"It's a game that would be great for both universities," said
the person familiar with the talks, speaking on condition of
anonymity because no deal has been signed. "Everyone involved
wants it to happen."
The game makes sense for a number of reasons. Foremost, perhaps,
it would likely be a TV bonanza, given that even in recent years
when both programs have struggled at times, Miami and Notre Dame
remain among the top ratings draws.
Notre Dame has been looking to play one neutral-site game a
year, with trips to Yankee Stadium (against Army in November) and
the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field (against Maryland in November
2011). The Irish played at the Alamodome last season against
Washington State and are scheduled to play Arizona State at the
Dallas Cowboys' stadium in 2013.
Miami has sought to play an ambitious non-conference schedule as
well. The Hurricanes played Oklahoma in 2007 and '09, will begin a
series with Ohio State this fall in Columbus, start a two-game set
with Kansas State in 2011, are involved in a five-year series with
South Florida, face Florida again in 2013 and will play Nebraska in
2014 and 2015. Plus, the Hurricanes play rivals Florida State and
Virginia Tech annually in Atlantic Coast Conference matchups.
The Hurricanes also have a large alumni base in the Midwest, and
Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon makes regular trips to Chicago - he
was there as recently as Thursday - for various events, with
another fundraiser in the city planned for June.
Plus, academically, the programs have been similarly honored by
the NCAA: Each school's football team received a Public Recognition
Award earlier this week for excelling in the Academic Progress Rate
program, an honor bestowed to only 26 schools this year and just a
handful of those from the Bowl Championship Series.
"I'd love to see us play them again," former Notre Dame star
Chris Zorich told The AP in October 2009, when he was in Miami for
a conference on the future of college athletics. "We should be
playing. It's Notre Dame and Miami. Everyone would want to see
Notre Dame-Miami games in the 1980s played a role in deciding
multiple national titles, and both schools likely lost a title
because of the other.
Miami beat Notre Dame 58-7 in the regular-season finale in 1985,
a game where Hurricanes coach Jimmy Johnson was thought to have run
up the score in what became the last game for Gerry Faust on the
Irish sideline. Miami beat Notre Dame 24-0 two years later on the
way to an undefeated national championship, then saw a 36-game
regular-season winning streak end the next season with a 31-30 loss
in South Bend as the Irish went on to win the national title.
Miami reclaimed the AP national crown the next season, thanks
again in part to a 27-10 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 25, 1989 - a
game where the Irish were ranked No. 1 and closing in on what could
have been their second straight title.
And then Notre Dame returned the favor in 1990, beating Miami
29-20 and knocking the 'Canes out of the title mix.
The teams haven't played since. Miami asked repeatedly about
extending the series, but Notre Dame was still stinging from the
58-7 loss, a fight before the 1988 game and what it said at the
time was on-field taunting from Hurricanes players.
"Perhaps a year or two off is not without its benefits," Dick
Rosenthal, Notre Dame's athletic director in 1990, said before the
teams met for the 19th time in 20 years.
It took a lot longer for the sides to get this close to meeting