Category Archives: Notre Dame’s Faint Echoes

Domino effect?

Couple of things went down yesterday that make me wonder if they might be related.

First, this.

The Big 12 and Pac-12 have ended talks about a potential merger or partnership after multiple conversations between the conferences across the last couple of weeks. The Big 12 ultimately walked away from the negotiating table Monday night after reviewing its options, sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.

The Big 12 reportedly approached the Pac-12 first with the leagues discussing options including a full merger, pooling television rights or a scheduling partnership, according to ESPN. Ultimately, the Big 12 believed a merger might be most beneficial but decided it had better options as adding many of the Pac-12’s programs would not help the league substantially increase its media rights revenue.

Might this be one of those “better options”?

Notre Dame would remain independent if it can earn at least $75 million annually in media rights revenue from current broadcast partner NBC, sources told CBS Sports. The Fighting Irish’s deal with the network is set to expire in 2025.

For NBC to feel comfortable raising Notre Dame’s valuation to such a level, it is seeking “shoulder programming” (in this case, games played before and/or after Notre Dame’s contests) from a Power Five conference to enhance its college football coverage.

When such a move had been speculated previously, the Big Ten was the conference mentioned most often as a target. However, the Big 12 has emerged as a strong option to fill NBC’s shoulder programming needs.

… Outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had not heard anything specific on NBC targeting the Big 12 for additional programming but said such a move “makes sense.” The Big 12 may be one of the few leagues with inventory available as its media rights deal also expires in 2025.

I never thought taking Notre Dame’s sloppy seconds would amount to much of a lifeline for a P5 league, but apparently that’s where we might be.  Go figure.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

Declaration of independence

Notre Dame is in no hurry to join a conference, as much as ESPN/Fox would prefer otherwise.  Just ask their athletic director ($$):

Swarbrick has been consistent in his reasoning for what might prompt Notre Dame to consider joining a conference.

“The three things that would make continuing as an independent unsustainable would be the loss of a committed broadcast partner, the loss of a fair route into the postseason, or such an adverse financial consequence that you had to reconsider,” said Swarbrick, a Notre Dame graduate who is entering his 15th season leading Irish athletics.

They’re not hurting for money, they’ve got a national broadcasting contract and they aren’t blocked from the CFP.  When they tell us there’s no urgency to affiliate with a conference, maybe we should take them at their word.

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Notre Dame: buyer’s or seller’s market?

I don’t think this comes as particularly shocking news:

A source familiar with the school’s thinking told Sports Illustrated that “independence remains the preference and the leader in the clubhouse.” It will take a lot to move Notre Dame off its cherished identity, but the instability of the entire landscape remains a concern, and could further affect the Irish outlook.

I’m sure it would.  The problem for ND is that instability is the name of the game right now in college football.  Take these two examples, for instance.

Two areas to monitor: the fates of both the College Football Playoff and the Atlantic Coast Conference. If one or both collapse, Notre Dame could be compelled into the Big Ten. Per its current contract, the playoff ceases to exist in January 2026. There is no guarantee another iteration of it will take its place, at any size. “The vast majority of the writing assumes a playoff, and that it’s going to get bigger,” says the industry source. “I’m not sure about that assumption.”

The idea of the CFP ceasing to exist when its current contract expires would have been a laughable concept a year ago, but now, who the hell knows?  If it did collapse under the weight of the current state of realignment affairs, that seems like pretty good news for the Irish and their desire to remain independent.  Maintaining the four-team status quo seems even better, though.

Ironically, Notre Dame’s best ally in the cause of independence would appear to be Greg Sankey.  Make no mistake, Sankey would love for ND to join his conference.  Almost as good a win for the SEC, though, would be keeping them out of the Big Ten, whether through the ACC maintaining its viability or postseason circumstances allowing the Irish to maintain their cherished independence.

Along those lines, Sankey’s already got credibility with Jack Swarbrick, ND’s athletic director.  The two were the main drivers, along with now departed Big 12 head Bob Bowlsby, for the 12-team CFP proposal that was vetoed by the other three P5 commissioners.  A 12-team CFP is probably the most attractive option of all to the Notre Dame athletics brain trust.

But here’s the thing:  the Big Ten’s Kevin Warren knows that.  And he’s already on record as having shot down the 12-team playoff, so he’s got a certain credibility of his own in play.  (Admittedly, that only goes so far.)  The question you have to ask him is pretty simple — how long do you take no for an answer?  I think that depends on what he sees as an end game.  If it’s about maintaining the current CFP framework, then he can pretty much wait forever on Notre Dame (which he just might have to do).  But what if he’s already leaning into the super league concept of a Big Ten/SEC-controlled playoff?

That’s where it gets interesting, at least to me.  Facing that situation, Notre Dame can’t hold out forever, of course, but it might hold out long enough to force the Big Ten’s hand with regard to where the next round of expansion goes.  Warren’s problem with that scenario is that he’s not the only likely bidder for ND’s entry.  That’s going to be especially awkward if the ACC is busted up and a bunch of schools from that conference shop for a new landing place.

There are lots of games left to play, in other words.  But the Irish don’t strike me as being in a desperate position — not yet, anyway.

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Luck of the Irish

You gotta hand it to the selection committee.

While Brian Kelly’s departure obviously shook up the college football landscape, it also could have potentially hurt Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff chances. After Notre Dame opted to promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to become the team’s next head coach, CFP committee chairman Gary Barta has acknowledged that the move will likely help Notre Dame in playoff discussions.

“We met last night as a committee as we got the weekend underway, and we talked about Notre Dame, the continuity, the quickness [of hiring Freeman to replace Kelly],” Barta said of Notre Dame on College GameDay Saturday morning. “And I can tell you, it is still part of our protocol, but based on our conversation last night, I’d be really surprised if it factors in at all in the conversation evaluating Notre Dame.”

With three teams a seeming lock in the semifinal field, if it comes down to Georgia and Notre Dame for the final slot, what’s the committee going to do?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

“You guys are killing me.”

If there’s such a thing as a meteor press conference, I’d say yesterday’s Brian Kelly vs. the Alabama media hook up surely qualifies.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

COVID strikes again.

And it isn’t some lowly mid-major backing out, either.

Week 15 just got a little more crowded, methinks.

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Filed under ACC Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, The Body Is A Temple

What it means to be independent in the Year 2020

This is some deal Notre Dame has cut for itself.

Screenshot_2020-07-24 David Teel on Twitter Again pending presidential approval #NotreDame would be eligible for ACC champi[...]

All that and you get to keep your own TV contract, to boot.  Sweet!

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Filed under ACC Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

“We’re Reopening Notre Dame. It’s Worth the Risk.”

Father Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame:

Athletic competition presents another set of challenges. We believe we can, with aggressive testing, hygiene and careful monitoring, keep student-athletes safe. Indeed, keeping healthy relatively small cadres of student-athletes, coaches and support staff members is a less daunting challenge than keeping safe the several thousand other people in the campus community.

Fans in the stadium, however, are a different matter. Fighting Irish fans regularly fill Notre Dame Stadium’s 80,000 seats. I see no way currently to allow spectators unless we restrict admissions so that physical distancing is possible…

We are in our society regularly willing to take on ourselves or impose on others risks — even lethal risks — for the good of society. We send off young men and women to war to defend the security of our nation knowing that many will not return. We applaud medical professionals who risk their health to provide care to the sick and suffering.

How can you equate college football players with soldiers and medical professionals like that?  Seriously, because I got nothing.

He goes on to get this part right:  “The pivotal question for us individually and as a society is not whether we should take risks, but what risks are acceptable and why.” That is a debate worth having, and not just at his institution.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer anything more than his hope that most people won’t disagree with his choice.  I wonder if he’s going to make the effort to find out what those football players being imposed on think about it.

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Everything was fine, up until then.

I mentioned earlier that it was likely one reason Smart felt comfortable letting Rodrigo kick that field goal — you know the field goal I’m talking about — is that his defense to that point had done a superlative job limiting Book’s ability to operate in short-yardage situations.

… The Irish finished with just 46 yards rushing on 14 carries, barely 3 yards a pop, with a long gain of just 9 via scramble by QB Ian Book. Still, their reluctance was mostly a matter of necessity. Situationally, they struggled throughout to stay ahead of schedule re: down-and-distance, keeping Book in obvious passing downs. Through the first 3 quarters, ND ran just 1 play on 2nd-and-short (less than 5 yards to go) and 0 on 3rd-and-short, a situation it didn’t face until well into the final quarter.

If only the secret sauce had lasted for the next drive…

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Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Strategery And Mechanics

“Again, it’s a non-issue. It happens in college football all of the time.”

Shot.

Kelly gave a terse response when asked about the fake injury in his Sunday conference call:

“Owusu was evaluated for a concussion. He was brought to the tent. So, that’s hard to be booing at a young man who suffered an evaluation for a concussion.

“Quite honestly, Georgia doesn’t play very fast, so I found that to be quite interesting there would be a number of questions on something like that.”

Chaser.

To paraphrase a saying, it’s better to remain silent and be thought an asshole than to speak out and remove all doubt.

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