Former ND QB Brady Quinn: 'I Almost Went to Michigan'

Former ND QB Brady Quinn: 'I Almost Went to Michigan'

Football

Former ND QB Brady Quinn: 'I Almost Went to Michigan'

CHICAGO — It wasn’t too long ago that Brady Quinn was on campus in South Bend, leading one of the top teams in the country at the time, preparing for the Fighting Irish’s Week Three contest against the Wolverines.

Notre Dame were heavy favorites in that 2006 matchup, ranked second in the country. Michigan was no slouch at No. 11, yet, on the road, in Indiana — no one gave the Wolverines a chance.

But then the game started, and everything changed.

It was one of Quinn’s worst performances of the season, which, given the Michigan defense that year, isn’t surprising. He only completed 50% of his passes, and while he did throw three touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions. The only other teams that Quinn played as poorly against that season were in losses to USC and in the bowl game against LSU.

But that’s the way the Michigan – Notre Dame rivalry can go. Just like any rivalry, you’re a hero in some, and a goat (not to be confused with G.O.A.T.) in others.

Himself, Quinn went 2-2 in the storied rivalry between the Fighting Irish and Wolverines, breaking even when he truly wanted it tipped in Notre Dame’s favor. And he had a reason — other than just playing in the game — why he wanted ND to come out on top every year.

In an exclusive interview with WolverinesWire, Quinn explains that he very nearly became a Wolverine — thus, it was personal to him that he prove himself in this rivalry, year-in and year-out.

Regardless, now he’s just happy that, after a three year hiatus, the two storied programs are playing each other once again.

“I was excited!” Quinn told WolverinesWire, about when he heard of Michigan and Notre Dame playing each other again. “I mean, c’mon! This is one of the best rivalries in college football and – for me, playing against Michigan in all four years, it meant something different, because I was recruited by both.

“I almost went to Michigan. But, at the last minute, I felt like Notre Dame was a better fit for what I was looking for out of my experience. So, I chose Notre Dame. But I became very close at the time with Scot Loeffler. He was the quarterback coach. He was the one really responsible for recruiting me. (Jim) Hermann was my area recruiter. Great guy – my family loved him. We loved Michigan! We really did.

“It was almost like, every single year, aside the rivalry itself, the history between the two schools, it was also for me proving to myself that I made the right decision by going to Notre Dame. I always felt like that was in the back of my mind.”

Of course, Quinn did not choose Michigan, but he did very well for himself in South Bend.

He played in 49 games, throwing for 11,762 yards with 95 touchdowns to 39 interceptions in his career. The bright spots didn’t necessarily come against Michigan — his stat lines were never over-the-top incredible in games against the Wolverines — but he has a 2-2 record to show for it, and went on to be a two-year Heisman finalist after the 2005-06 seasons.

And getting to play in the Michigan – ND game is something that he looks back on with fond memories, especially given the nature of the rivalry.

So what makes it different?

Michigan, naturally, has Michigan State and Ohio State as rivals. Notre Dame has USC, Stanford and Navy among its many yearly rivalries. But there’s something more when the Wolverines and Fighting Irish strap up, Quinn says. And it very well could be that they’re two schools approaching football and academics in a very similar way.

“I think there’s a lot of respect between the two schools,” Quinn said. “To be quite honest, they’re very, very similar. I’m not trying to say Ohio State and Michigan aren’t (respectful), but typically, you grow up and you’re going to one over the other. There’s not many guys that are on the fence choosing between Michigan and Ohio State when they’re trying to pick their school they want to go to. So, there’s that mutual level of respect. I think that’s part of it. They’re very similar institutions in regards to how high of academic standards they hold for their student body.

“Then, from a football standpoint, you think about all the success that they’ve had for such a long period of time – that goes into it as well.”

As WolverinesWire quoted friend of the site, Michigan alum Jordan Pomaville, who once said, ‘Michigan and Notre Dame are two teams trying to out-tradition each other,’ Quinn emphatically agreed, stating that’s pretty much the gist of the two programs and how they approach football.

And it’s why both schools loom very large — not just in the rivalry with each other, but in college football as a whole.

“Yeah, that’s probably one way you’d put it!” Quinn said. “Two teams that have been historically two of the most successful in college football history. They don’t forget it. They don’t let you forget it! So that was always on the line, too.

“It wasn’t just for the older fans up in the stands. It’s for the generations to come to make sure that legacy is still left.”

Michigan and Notre Dame will kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium at night on September 1.

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