Michigan is upset over Irish schedule
By TIM CASEY
The controversy has begun.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has been outspoken about the fact that the Irish and Wolverines had engaged in a "gentlemen's agreement." This agreement allegedly said that neither team could participate in a game prior to their September 4th contest.
Notre Dame broke the "agreement" and Carr was irate. He repeated his sentiments on Monday in his weekly press conference.
"I think it's unfortunate for this rivalry that they chose to schedule a game to gain an advantage," said Carr, "That's the issue I have with that game."
In Tuesday's Notre Dame press conference, Bob Davie disputed the alleged agreement.
"It's hard for me to comment on that because I haven't talked to Lloyd," said Davie. "I asked [Notre Dame athletic director] Mike Wadsworth if anyone had heard anything from Michigan on the so-called verbal agreement and no one had. You hate to comment on anything that's a third-party story."
"But it's interesting because last year there was a lot of discussion with us playing Indiana in the proposed Hall of Fame game," added Davie, "That conversation went on for five or six months and everyone seemed excited about it. There was not one comment made about a verbal agreement."
"And then this year with all the topics of the Eddie Robinson Classic that went on for months before that game was confirmed," added Davie, "There was not conversation about a verbal agreement. Still today, no one's heard, here at Notre Dame, about a verbal agreement from Michigan."
Davie also mentioned that this is not the first time the two teams had not played in the first game of their respective schedules.
"I remember back in `94, my first year at Notre Dame, we played Northwestern in Soldier Field and then the next week we played Michigan in their first game of the year," said Davie, "So it's a little different to me because I don't think that Michigan and Notre Dame is the first game every year. And I know in 2002 it won't be our first game. It seems a little strange to me."
The Wolverines were in the same situation in 1995 as the Irish are in this year. They were originally scheduled to open up the season at Illinois but instead signed to play in the Pigskin Classic against Virginia. It was Carr's first year at the helm and the Wolverines had an inexperienced quarterback in freshman Scott Dresisbach.
The disputes between the two schools have carried on through the years. In 1943, under coach Frank Leahy, the top-ranked Irish faced No. 2 Michigan in Ann Arbor. After the Irish 35-12 victory, Michigan Head Coach Fritz Crisler told Leahy that the contest was the dirtiest game he'd ever seen.
It was 35 years before the two programs met again on the field.
Crisler had a vendetta on the Irish that resurfaced in 1952. On third and three in a tie game against USC, the Irish were on the Trojan's nine yard line. The Irish went into a shift formation, fooling the Trojans, who jumped off-sides for an automatic off-sides. Johnny Lattner scored a couple plays later to give the Irish the win.
They had not violated any rules with the shift. But the NCAA rules committee headed by Crisler outlawed the use of the shift, presumably to scorn the Irish.
Regardless of the dispute, Davie feels the extra game prior to Michigan has helped his team.
"For us, just the opportunity to see on tape, against a different opponent than ourselves, what we have, adds to our confidence," said Davie.
On the other hand, Carr feels he's learned a valuable lesson.
"Certainly I think we've learned something from this experience," said Carr on Monday. "I think we'll take every precaution so that it never happens again."
u Injuries are piling up for the Irish. Deke Cooper did not practice Monday due to a strained quadricep. Cooper, Andy Wisne (strained quad), Tony Weaver (sprained left knee) and Jason Ching (strained shoulder) are all probable for Saturday's game. Lance Legree may be back for Purdue but most likely for Michigan State on Sept. 18th. Antwon Jones, who aggravated a sprain to his right shoulder against Kansas, is questionable.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, September 1, 1999