SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly saw the questions coming from a million miles away, so he got right to it.
"It's a great and historic rivalry that we'll be playing this Saturday, so let's get that out of the way right away so we don't have to answer any more questions about this rivalry," the fourth-year Irish coach said during the opening statement of his Tuesday press conference. "We're excited about the game, excited about playing it. This will be decided by the players on the field and the preparation that goes along with it, so we can stick to that and dispense with the nonsense."
Kelly, of course, was talking about his school's rivalry with Michigan, which he had downplayed during a Sunday teleconference by saying he did not see the Wolverines "as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries."
Public sentiment seemed to differ, though Kelly still avoided any tit-for-tat with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who infamously said during a July luncheon that Notre Dame "was chickening out of" playing the Wolverines every year after Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick exercised the game's three-year out clause prior to the 2012 matchup.
The schools have no more scheduled meetings after next season's tilt at Notre Dame Stadium, a large byproduct of the Irish's five-game-per-year scheduling agreement with the ACC that begins next fall.
"We have not talked about it," Kelly said of the third-year Michigan coach. "You know, again, I think people have made a lot of his comments and, look, he's talking to his alums. I didn't take anything from it, really. I know Brady. He's never been one to show disrespect to anybody or anything. It's really, for me, about two programs that share a border, that it makes sense to play. I get that. It's just there's so many complexities with our schedule and our agreement with the ACC that it's difficult and frustrating. I can see the frustration that would be there.
"But he's a first-class guy. I know him from our time way back; he was at Grand Valley State and Ball State. There's nothing there other than he's done a great job at Michigan, and I know he wants to continue to play Notre Dame, and we'd like to oblige him. But right now it's difficult with the commitments that we have."
Notes: Receiver DaVaris Daniels (groin) was slated to practice Tuesday. ... Freshman quarterback Malik Zaire has still not been cleared to play following his bout with mononucleosis. ... Notre Dame stayed at No. 14 in the AP poll and dropped two spots to No. 13 in the USA Today coaches poll. Michigan stayed at No. 17 in both polls.