Notre Dame and Army aren't planning a 100th anniversary football game to celebrate their historic first meeting in 1913, but the tradition-bound schools are negotiating to renew the series as early as 2016.
Army Athletic Director Boo Corrigan, a man steeped in Notre Dame-Army history as a Notre Dame graduate and the son of former Notre Dame athletic director Gene Coorigan, says an announcement could come within a month.
"We're excited about it," Coorigan told GoBlackKnights.com. "I think that what you're looking at are two elite academic institutions that look and feel the same as far as student body size and tradition. There is a great tradition of Army playing Notre Dame. They appreciate who we are and it's something our fans are interested in."
But they'll be one significant difference that Coorigan insists upon in future Notre Dame-Army games. He wants Army's home games played for West Point's fans at scenic and historic Michie Stadium in a home-and-home series that includes Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
The 1913 game was played at Michie Stadium along the Hudson River, but the sudden popularity of the series led to games being played at mammoth Yankee Stadium, which subsequently became a home for Notre Dame's subway alumni.
"We're not playing them unless they come to West Point," Coorigan said. "Our fans deserve games at West Point."
It's not a stipulation the Irish area resisting.
"Notre Dame appreciates having its players see what West Point is," Coorigan said. "It's exciting to have Notre Dame's players here to see West Point and for our players to go out and experience South Bend. It's a winning combination."
Notre Dame last played at Michie Stadium in 1973 when the Irish won 62-3 at the depths of the Army football program in the Vietnam era. Michie Stadium, now a 38,000-seat facility judged by ESPN and Sports Illustrated among the best venues to see a football game, has experienced many recent upgrades, including the $7 million Huffman press box and the accompanying locker room and training facilities in the Kimsey Athletic Center.
We're not playing them unless they come to West Point ... Our fans deserve games at West Point.
- Army Athletic Director Boo Corrigan
Coorigan says the two schools' existing football commitments won't allow for a game in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons. He also wouldn't say how many games in will be signed for now.
But any renewal of the series requires a brief history lesson.
The teams last met in 2010 at the New Yankee Stadium, with Notre Dame winning 27-3. But other than Army's 41-9 loss in 2006 at Notre Dame, the teams have only played sporadically in the last 64 years since Army's most recent victory in a series that Notre Dame leads 34-8-4.
Army's last win over the Irish in 1958 was a 14-2 victory at Notre Dame en route to an 8-0-1 season behind Heisman Trophy winner and Pete Dawkins and legendary coach Earl Blaik, the namesake for adding "Blaik Field" to Michie Stadium's identity.
Tradition is one reason Notre Dame and Army want to revive their series, but another is Coorigan is confident that fourth-year Army head coach Rich Ellerson has rebuilt the program to a level it can be competitive with national opponents such as Notre Dame.
"We feel great about what Rich is doing," Coorigan said. "He's a perfect fit for us. He understands West Point inside and out and he understands our larger mission within the Army.
"In addition, he is a highly competitive individual who wants to win each time out. We feel good about our style of play. We feel good about our people and their maturation process."
Ellerson has expressed confidence that the Army is building a bigger and quicker roster with each successive recruiting class. The Black Knights will still be a young team overall this fall, with the 2012 recruiting class only the third full group recruited under Ellerson's direction.
In addition, Army recruiting coordinator Tucker Waugh believes the mood of the nation is such that talent pool of prospects interested in playing at the military academies has been growing in recent years.
The Army seniors that will face Notre Dame in 2016 will be Army's recruiting Class of 2013 of West Point direct admits as well as the additions from the USMSPS. The West Point 2013 direct admits are still to be identified, but Army likes its group of players that are reporting the USMAPS next month and West Point in 2013.
The cast includes running back Andrew King (6-0, 200) of Flushing (NY) High School, who was named the MVP of the Annual Empower All-Star Football Classic played Sunday at the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University.
If Army football is to enjoy a rebirth under Ellerson that would include national rankings and consistent bowl game trips, it's not a stretch to draw parallels between Army and Notre Dame in the 21st century to the first Army-Notre Dame meeting 100 years ago.
These days Notre Dame holds obvious advantages in national stature and it's ability to recruit elite talent. But Army employs an innovative triple-option offense that can help the Black Knights equalize Notre Dame's physical advantage. And any future Army victory over Notre Dame would deliver national recognition and for the Black Knights.
It was the other way around a century ago.
In 1913, Army was a college football powerhouse and Notre Dame a little-known Catholic school from the Midwest.
Notre Dame was finding its scheduling requests spurned by Midwest powers in those days. Michigan and other Midwest schools that would later form the Big Ten considered Notre Dame beneath their stature both academically and athletically.
So Army's agreement to play Notre Dame in 1913 not only elevated the Irish's stature, the game played along the Hudson River at Michie changed the course of college football.
The Irish, who had never previously traveled further east than Pittsburgh, dressed only 19 players. They also wanted the game so badly they took a loss on the travel expenses with only a $1,000 reimbursement from Army.
What Army's coaches overlooked was the Irish were schooled in an innovative passing attack that gave Notre Dame an edge in an otherwise physical mismatch. Notre Dame shocked the Black Knights 35-13, handing Army its only loss midway through what would finish as an 8-1 season.
There was no trickery involved -- only innovative football for its time. College football had recently opened up its rules at the demand of President Teddy Roosevelt and an American public shocked by the growing number of deaths in the game.
Roosevelt left office in 1909, but up until the 1913 Notre Dame-Army game, no team had exploited the new rules as effectively as Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais connecting with an end named Knute Rockne, who, of course, went on to become a college football icon as Notre Dame's coach.
Thus began one of the most historic rivalries in the annals of college football, which included a 1946 game at Yankee Stadium that matched No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame. Then considered "The Game of the Century," the epic battled ended in a 0-0 tie when Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack stopped Doc Blanchard's breakaway run with a touchdown-saving tackle.
Three Heisman Trophy winners were on the field that day: Blanchard in 1945, Army teammate Glenn Davis in 1946 and Lujack in 1947.
As for the future chapters of the Notre Dame-Army series in the 21st century, the level of drama and history remains to be written.
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