So now the jokes, as Brady Hoke adds to the tradition of enmity between Notre Dame and Michigan:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
(To get to Wake Forest on the other side)
What does "ACC" stand for?
(Any Chickens Coming?)
What does a Notre Dame player do when he sees a Michigan player coming?
(Sings the school flight song)
And so on, and so on. Cluck, cluck.
And, no, before the Domeheads rise up in all their righteous fury, this is not to suggest that Brady Hoke (who will now surely enter the Notre Dame pantheon of villains alongside Fielding Yost, Jimmy Johnson, et al) has scored a direct hit when he says the Irish "chickened out" of the Michigan series.
A glancing blow, maybe. But not a direct hit.
There is this, first of all: What does Notre Dame have to fear from a rivalry whose average margin of victory the last three meetings (two wins for Michigan, one for ND) is less than a point?
This isn't exactly Godzilla vs. Tokyo. And when you take into account that Michigan holds a narrow 7-6 edge since the turn of the century ... well, you reasonably can conclude Notre Dame has given as good as it's gotten in this deal.
So what's the trigger mechanism in all this?
Three words: Follow the money.
It's what everyone in college football has learned to do with amazing dexterity in the last 20 years or so, and few have been as good at it as Notre Dame. The Irish going to the ACC, after all, means extra walking-around money in everyone's pocket -- and, from the ACC's perspective, it lends instant glamour to a conference that has very little between September and the start of basketball season.
As for Notre Dame ... well, here's where Hoke at least brushes up against the truth: The Irish do get the likes of Wake Forest (six winning records in the last 20 years) instead of Michigan. They get, with five mandated games against ACC schools, an automatically less rigorous schedule most years.
And, in keeping Michigan State and Purdue on the dance card and jettisoning Michigan, they get two opponents against which they're a combined 102-54-3 all-time and shed one against which they're 16-23-1.
So. Cluck, cluck?
I guess you could look at it that way if you live 2 1/2 hours north and east and use the word "maize" to describe the color yellow. But you know what they say.
One man's yellow is another man's maize.
And one man's poultry is another man's ... business opportunity.