ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The streak is over. The longest continuous intersectional rivalry in college football is ending at 93 games.
Navy will not play Notre Dame in 2020.
"Initially that was a downer because it was a big game for our program," said Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo. "We love playing them."
The move was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s scheduling mandates of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is playing an ACC schedule for the first time.
The game was to be played for the first time in Annapolis. It was moved from Ireland to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy and Notre Dame have met every year on the gridiron since 1927. The two programs have agreed to extend the contract between the two schools to 2032.
"We went from the down of not playing Notre Dame here to, 'okay, where do we go from here?'," said Niumatalolo.
Where they went was scheduling Brigham Young to take Notre Dame’s place. Navy will host BYU in prime-time on Labor Day, Monday, September 7, at 8:00 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
"We wanted to play a good football team that we knew that they were doing all in their power to keep their guys safe," said Niumatalolo. "That they are testing. That their protocol was strict. I knew BYU would be that."
Navy announces it has replaced the Notre Dame game with Brigham Young. Mids will host BYU on Labor Day, Sept. 7 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 8pm Kickoff. Series with Notre Dame extended to 2032. @WMAR2News https://t.co/OoJVzSswS1
— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerWMAR) August 6, 2020
Preparations for the Cougars and the 2020 season begin on Friday. Preseason training camps open around the country. Niumatalolo said his staff is still trying to figure out how to hold a camp in a world of coronavirus concerns.
"Try to spread out our practices, spread out our people," he said. "We’re having to be really creative on our drills."
The leader of the Midshipmen added that playing college football can uplift our nation. But it can not come at the sacrifice of his players.
"If we can keep people safe, that we can bring back a national pastime to lift people’s spirits so to speak and keep people safe, we’re going to do that," said Niumatalolo. "And if we can’t, I’m all for just shut it down."