CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — College football powers Notre Dame and Miami appear ready to play again after nearly 20 years apart.
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.
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 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 that."
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 again.