Friday, April 25, 2008

Notre F'n Dame...

I am a Notre Dame hater. I have been a Notre Dame hater since the day Lou Holtz said that the best thing to come out of West Virginia was the bus he left on. Yes, I have hated them since the cheap shot on Major Harris in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl. I have hated them since the catholics vs. the convicts series with Miami. This is all coming from a catholic boy with a wee little bit of Irish blood running through his veins. Maybe I am a wee bit jealous but I am convinced of this simple truth. There is a yin and yang for everything and we all need something to hate. Such is life. Some people hate certain foods. Some people hat certain clothes. Some people hate certain shows. I...hate Notre Dame.

One of my fondest Notre Dame memories happened on a cold night in Beaver Stadium in 1991. The Irish came in as one of the top Teams in the land, coming off a shocking defeat a week earlier against Tennessee. I witnessed one of the great Irish drubbings in history. PSU's Tony Sacca and OJ McDuffie absolutely lit the Irish up in a 35-13 romp. That in some ways was the cathartic moment I needed to rid myself of the painful Mountaineer loss to Notre Dame in 1988. Again, it is the yin and the yang. Now I must somehow try to remain somewhat objective when looking at their place in college athletics today.

I recently read that Notre Dame agreed to a long term series with UConn. The problem with it, is that the deal is somewhat one sided. UConn will not have one home game in the series. Their "home" games will take place, not in Conneticut at their brand new stadium, but one state away in Foxboro, Massachusetts. This deal raised more than a few eyebrows around the country.

To understand this, you have to understand Notre Dame's membership with the Big East. They are a member in every other sport except football. The Big East also has a bowl tie-in with football where Notre Dame can replace a Big East rep in certain bowls when they are actually good enough to make a bowl game. Notre Dame has its own special deal with the BCS where it gets an automatic bid when it is ranked 10th or higher. Not bad for a team that hasn't won a bowl game since I was wearing flannel shirts and Doc Martens. Who says the BCS isn't bogus?

Notre Dame, being the generous member that it is, has agreed to play three Big East teams a year, but it looks like only on their terms. They tried to strong arm a deal with Rutgers, to get the same set up like UConn. Much to RU's credit, they told the Irish to essentially, stick it.

"Rutgers entered into discussions about a possible long-term series with Notre Dame, but at the end of the day both schools could not agree about the site of the games," Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy said in a prepared statement issued by the university. "We feel Rutgers' home games should be played on campus at Rutgers Stadium."

The real reason, the Big East had this deal with Notre Dame; it was the only way the BCS would allow them to have a seat at the table after the defections of Miami, BC and Virginia Tech to the ACC. Fast forward a few years, it appears, in my mind, that this deal is no longer needed. The Big East has won their BCS bowls, the last three years straight, while the ACC has not won one. The old yin and yang rears its head. Some of the highest rated games on TV, have been the Thursday night league games on ESPN and I'm not talking about games out of conference or against the Irish.

I think nobody has given Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese enough credit for negotiating these Thursday night games. They have been a such great help for the league. Some fans are against them for travel reasons, but the effects on the programs for exposure and recruiting have been immense. Now it's time for Tranghese to make his next big gamble and tell Notre Dame to get in or get out. I would prefer the latter, but that's just me. Many of the league's coaches have been calling for a ninth member for scheduling. If the Irish say no, there is plethora of teams willing and able to take their place. At this point, the league is strong enough to stand on its own with or without Notre Dame.

So in the end, Lou Holtz is still a slobbering fool. Rudy still sucks and I will still hate Notre Dame...


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