Brian Kelly kicked off Notre Dame-Michigan week by downplaying the programs' fast-fading rivalry on the field, but the Fighting Irish coach just as easily could have been talking about what's happening on the recruiting trail.
The two schools are separated by just 130 miles on the map, one-thousandth of a percentage point on the list of college football's all-time winningest programs and 12 spots in U.S. News & World Report's latest list of best colleges and universities (both are in the top 30). Their profiles as national brands, historic football programs and elite academic institutions have been intertwined for decades.
But good luck finding many nationally elite recruits whose decisions have come down to Michigan and Notre Dame. Both schools show interest in many top prospects because that's what elite programs do -- "Believe me, we bump into them enough," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said -- but the major recruiting showdowns between the Maize and Blue and the Blue and Gold are largely a thing of the past.