Notre Dame - Michigan: Therapy Sessions

Come in, Brady. Lay down on the couch, if you wish. I find music is soothing. This song is a favorite, so with your permission....

Brady Hoke: It's a great one that I love, too. Fine by me.

A couple of weeks ago you were opening up. The cancellation of the Notre Dame series was more than a shock, you said. Kelly has been outcoaching you. Worse Notre Dame prefers playing Michigan State - and Purdue.

Brady: It didn't make any sense. Little brother over us? Purdue? I'll be the first Michigan coach to have the Irish walk out on me. I had my plans when we went to a nine game conference schedule. I brought us back to respectability. I sacrificed.

Background music:

"Rain falling on my shoes

Heading out for the East Coast

Lord knows I've paid some dues getting through

Tangled up in blue"

They were a natural enemy

Brady: One of our players once said that you were not a great running back until you have success running against Notre Dame. One of our quarterbacks - and probably almost the whole team - said he wanted to beat the Irish more than anyone on our schedule. We all secretly feel we have to have Notre Dame. I do, too. It's a huge loss for me.

"Split up on a dark sad night

Both agreeing it was best"

Why was Notre Dame so important to you?

Brady: The Irish are - or were - our off-season focus. My mountain to climb. My gauge for success. I didn't agree this was for the best - at least not yet. The Leaders of the Big Ten agreed to expand by accepting Rutgers and Maryland to chip away at the Irish presence there. Those teams aren't Legends but they serve their purpose. To watch Kelly build the Irish back to national prominence was a dagger in my heart. I'd give my eye teeth to appear in the national championship game.

"As I was walking away

I heard her say over my shoulder

'We'll meet again someday on the avenue'

Tangled up in blue"

I want to focus back on you. Is your legacy in Michigan is a big part of this?

Brady: A huge part. My wife says this took a little of my soul. I agree. I'd love to diminish its significance. Yost and Crisler let Rockne and Leahy beg. Schembechler would have dropped Holtz and Notre Dame, if he could. We do our best to disrespect them when we have the opportunity. Now all I can do is find a way to criticize their strength of schedule. Beating Little Brother has become key to that now.

"But all the while I was alone

The past was close behind

I seen a lot of women

But she never escaped my mind and I just grew

Tangled up in blue"

Jack Swarbrick promised to renew the rivalry in the future.

Brady: I worry that's as empty a promise as Crisler assuring Leahy of his undieing commitment to scheduling the Irish when they had just come off their third national championship. A two year notice? I was shocked, numb. The Irish say it is due to their ACC commitment and we refuse to play them except within the first two games of the season. They've asked us to be more flexible. I deserved more - we deserved much more. I'll post that rejection letter, because that's what is, on our bulletin board before this year's game. We'll find a worthy rival and fill the Big House with someone else.

"And every one of them words rang true

And glowed like burning coal

Pouring off of every page

Like it was written in my soul from me to you

Tangled up in blue"

How has that rejection affected your non-conference schedule?

Brady: In 2015 we'll play Utah, Oregon State, UNLV and BYU. Do you see anyone on that schedule that can sell out the Big House three times over and draw a national prime time audience? We were lucky to get Oregon State. USC, Stanford, Oklahoma, Texas and now the ACCs powerhouses like Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech are booked with the Irish. Except for last year's game with Alabama, the SEC won't play us. I guess we still have Ohio State. Do you think the Irish are blackballing us? You know, tit for tat.

"There was music in the cafes at night

And revolution in the air

Then he started dealing with slaves

and something inside of him died"

How have you coped with this loss and your grief?

Brady: You know how depressed I have been since January. I lost my chance for the sweet taste of victory over the Irish every other game or so. Personally, I don't count those early college football games more than one hundred years ago before the forward pass, when the pigskin wasn't spherical, the touchdowns weren't six points, and the game and the fields were more like rugby. I lost that recruiting edge when I could no longer tell prospects that they would play Notre Dame every year. I lost getting interviewed by ESPN. I crashed. Spring football has helped, bringing me back from the brink. I immerse myself in the animosity. I stick pins in my Swarbrick doll.

"And when finally the bottom fell out

I became withdrawn

The only thing I knew how to do

Was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew

Tangled up in blue"

How are you resolving this?

Brady: This was never a real rivalry. This was a hated enemy. We found this convenient at the time. I've found relief in calling them names. I have found solace among the alumni groups. Recruiting passions have begun to return. Ex-players are still dealing with this though. Notre Dame can't do this to me. I shall fight back. I'll ignore them. The response I am getting makes me think this is the path I want to travel.

"I don't know what they are doing with their lives

But me I'm still on the road

Heading for another joint

We always did feel the same

We just saw it from a different point of view

Tangled up in Blue"

You've come a long way, Brady. We have some major issues still to work on, though. Your anger may be cleansing now. Anger is critical for the healing process to begin. But it's not where you want to end up, because it will consume you. Do you want Notre Dame to continue to be a presence in your soul, in your life? Let's work towards a healthy alternative and leave those who hate behind. I am here if you need to talk. My secretary will schedule our next session.

Thanks, Doc. Can I recommend you to others?

Tangled up in Blue

The Notre Dame-Michigan Rivalry: "To Hell with Notre Dame"

Notre Dame-Michigan: A History

Friendly Reminder: Michigan asked to stop ND series first

The Five Stages of Grief

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