Wolverine in South Bend: “To Hell with Notre Dame.”

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

Michigan and Notre Dame announced they will revive their football rivalry. The Wolverines will travel to South Bend in 2018 for the season opener on Sept. 1, followed by the Irish returning to Ann Arbor a season later on Oct. 26.

I know Michigan fans are excited. I know Notre Dame fans are excited. This rivalry should have never stopped, but finally — all is well in the world again.

While it may seem easy to talk about stats capturing the rivalry and the storied history between the two programs, I would like to take a different approach.

Growing up in enemy territory

Unknown to many, I was born and raised in South Bend for the first twenty years of my life. I have been to a multitude of Notre Dame football games, such as the “Bush Push” game in 2005 (yes, I was cheering for USC), and the Michigan game in 2012 when Denard Robinson had five turnovers. I’ve seen the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Bush and Matt Ryan play at Notre Dame Stadium.

You may ask, “why on God’s green earth are you a Michigan fan?” My only answer: my dad is passionate Michigan fan and so is his father. Outside of us, everyone else in my family is a Domer. One of my uncles is an usher, while another is doing construction at the stadium. I have a grandfather who works in the telecommunications department on game day. Many of my high school friends go to Notre Dame. My mother had her fifth and final child the same day that Denard Robinson went bonkers and led Michigan to a victory in South Bend. Heck, my high school was right across the street from Warren Golf Course.

So, once again, why am I a Michigan fan? Why do I STRONGLY dislike Notre Dame with every fiber of my being? Because I am a PROUD Wolverine in South Bend.

I’ve been to four games in the Big House, all of them taking place after the stadium renovations. There is nothing like a Michigan game day in Ann Arbor. I’ve been to two Michigan/Notre Dame games in my life, both of them Michigan both losses in South Bend. I don’t remember much of the first one, but I vividly remember the loss in 2012. One thing I will never forget is walking back from the game on Eddy Street. As I was zipping up my sweatshirt, a Notre Dame fan — under a good amount of intoxication — told me to “Zip that sweatshirt up. I’d be embarrassed to be a fan after what I saw tonight.” I didn’t retaliate, but you better well believe I unzipped my sweatshirt and showed the Maize and Blue with true pride.

I never hear the end of it for a full year (until 2018 in this case) if Notre Dame wins. As a young child I was told to win with grace, so I kept my mouth shut after every Michigan victory. I might have said a few things in the following days, but I didn’t carry it on into the following summer like many of my Notre Dame friends would. However, when the ratio is 20-1, Notre Dame to Michigan fans, it gets a bit out of control at times.

The return of a rivalry

Trust me when I say, there is no one happier about this rivalry coming back than me. If I had a dollar for every reference to the 2014 game I have heard, I would be sipping long island iced teas in a yacht for the rest of my life. I want that bad taste out of my mouth. I am tired of hearing “31-0” over and over again. I cannot wait to see what Harbaugh can do with a fully loaded Michigan roster. He took Stanford teams into South Bend and dominated. I want another performance like the one in 2006 where Michigan came into South Bend and put a whoopin’ on the second-ranked Irish (This, without a single doubt, is my favorite Michigan game of all-time.)

You can bet I’ll be in the house come Sept. 1, 2018, and I’ll be in Ann Arbor the following year. This is my rivalry. Not Ohio State. Not Michigan State. Notre Dame is the team I hate. Call it Catholics vs. Khakis or whatever you please. All I have to say is five simple words:

“To Hell with Notre Dame.”

Patrick Connors