HUNTINGTON – In the not-so-distant future, a program located in Almost Heaven will visit Touchdown Jesus.
Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick announced Monday that the Thundering Herd has entered into a one-game contract to play the University of Notre Dame. The meeting between the two schools takes place Sept. 10, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.
“From the feedback I’ve gotten since the announcement, our fan base is extremely excited about this game,” Hamrick said. “If you look at Notre Dame, please tell me another program with the history, tradition, success that Notre Dame does. It’s always been a dream of mine to see if one day, Marshall would play Notre Dame.”
That dream will become reality in the 2022 season when the Herd serves as Notre Dame’s home opener for the season. The Fighting Irish open the season on the road at Ohio State on Sept. 3 that year. Hamrick was unable to disclose financial details for the game, but added that the contract with the Fighting Irish could become Marshall’s biggest one-game payday in program history.
“Potentially could be, yes,” Hamrick said of the game. “South Carolina was $1.3 million, but it will be right there with anything that we’ve ever signed financially.”
The game will also be seen nationally on NBC, who is under contract to carry Notre Dame’s contests through the 2025 season, which provides additional exposure to Marshall’s program. Hamrick said that the matchup brings together two schools with incredible tradition and unique storylines while offering Marshall fans a chance to experience the aura surrounding one of the most storied programs in college football history.
“Notre Dame is very selective on who they play in football and, in the discussions I had, they were excited about playing Marshall,” Hamrick said. “I think that speaks volumes for our program, as well, that they would play us.”
The matchup will serve as Notre Dame’s first contest against a Mountain State opponent since the Fighting Irish topped West Virginia 34-24 in South Bend, Indiana, in 2001. Marshall also becomes only the second Conference USA team to ever face Notre Dame. The other team is Rice, which has met the Irish on five occasions, the last time in 2014.
Hamrick said football scheduling is one of the hardest things he does as an athletic director, but he feels good about the direction that it is moving, and announcements like Monday’s further cement his thoughts on his scheduling philosophy. Marshall already has one other non-conference opponent for 2022, a Sept. 17 home game against Appalachian State, and the Herd will likely open the year against an FCS opponent.
Monday’s announcement does offer Hamrick some leeway in terms of the direction he goes with the final non-conference game, however. Hamrick could attempt to sign a Power 5 school to a home-and-home series and start on the road or begin another series with a Group of Five school, which would give the Herd seven home games in 2022.
While all that is slated for the future, Hamrick said the excitement level of Marshall’s first-ever trip to South Bend to take on Notre Dame should be one that fans relish.
“We’ve been working on this for a long, long time,” Hamrick said. “It’s the second game of the season, we make good money, play a great opponent, it’s nationally- televised and it will help us in recruiting. This was a big win for us in scheduling.”