July 11, 2008

ND - Miami: Make It Happen, Part 2

From today's South Bend Trib:

A story in the Miami Herald this week reported that Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt wants to schedule marquee opponents and would be interested in speaking with Notre Dame about one of ND's off-site games. The off-site games, which begin in 2009, serve as a home game for Notre Dame from a revenue and television rights standpoint, however. And that means a rekindling of the heated rivalry could be difficult to schedule. "Our understanding from the ACC is that their member schools are not permitted to participate unless they can retain the television rights, and that's not really what the format is," John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletic director for media and broadcast relations, said Thursday. "Our intention was for us to retain the television rights, and in effect, they're already part of our NBC agreement." Notre Dame and NBC last month announced a five-year extension of the contract to televise Notre Dame football home games, running from 2011 to 2015.Playing a home-and-home series may also be difficult. "Between playing three Big East schools, three Big Ten schools and USC and Stanford and Navy, we're already having to take a break with some of those people relative to home-and-homes," Heisler said. "So I think numbers are going to make it difficult with all those things in place as we move forward, at least for the time being." Notre Dame and Miami have not played since 1990. Notre Dame holds a 15-7-1 advantage in the series.

I can live with the fact that the ACC regulates their conference schools playing neutral site games, although I have to believe that there is still a way for ND to be flexible and not take ALL of the revenue from such a game. But for Heisler to come out and say that because we are playing STANFORD we can't pull off a home and home with The U is the most ridiculous statement I ever heard. Did I miss the lifetime contract we signed to play Stanford every year? Please, Mr Heisler, tell me exactly what Stanford brings to the table? Let's see what would get ND coaches, players, recruits, alumni and fans more excited: a home and home with Miami or freaking Stanford on the schedule again. Seriously, sometimes the crap that comes out of the athletic department these days makes me embarrassed to be a Notre Dame alum. Our school is more content to play Stanford every year than go out and schedule a marquee game, and is more concerned with finding a cushy bottom feeder school to play these neutral site games and keep all the money than actually finding a challenging opponent that would attract national attention and make ND football relevant again. It's disgusting.


Matt said...

Just the first sentence in that article tells you all you need to know. Miami and ND are in similar situations: History laden programs that have fallen on hard times. Miami's AD is looking to schedule marquee games to reestablish themselves. Notre Dame is looking into NCAA policy to see if there is any way we can play Baylor twice in one season. I know nothing about Kirby Hocutt, but as far as I'm concerned he's on my list of potential ND AD's based on that philosophy alone.

Doug said...

EXACTLY! Just glancing at Miami's future schedules:


They already have nonconference games lined up with Oklahoma, Ohio State (twice), and Florida plus their annual conference games with Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and and yet their athletic director is still going out and looking to set up a series with Notre Dame. Miami is taking an aggressive approach to rebuilding their reputation within college football. Contrast that with our athletic department falling all over itself to explain why we can't play any new games because of previous commitments to Stanford.

Again, I go back to Alabama and Florida State. Last year, Alabama already had Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn on the schedule, and yet they still found room for a neutral site game with Florida State in Jacksonville. And even with all those big games, they asked ND for a game as well. Florida State played Florida, Colorado, Miami (Fl), Va Tech, and Clemson plus the rest of their ACC schedule and yet they had no problem taking on a game with Alabama. And yet here we are with USC and Michigan and essentially NO ONE else for the next three years on future schedules, but we're telling America that we have no room for a game like Miami. Huh?? It goes against everything that Notre Dame football has always been about.

This response from Heisler is very troubling, but not shocking at all. It all starts at the top. I am hoping that the new AD brings a fresh and creative approach to running things at ND. ND football has become like one of those bad NBA or MLB or NFL franchises that doesn't even know how stale their office has become until a new GM comes in and completely shakes things up. ND needs a visionary person to take the mantle of this program and show them that the current model doesn't work for the long term brand. We need an AD who can broaden our horizons and get the current staff to see new possibilities. Instead of reflexively saying no to every new opportunity to play a great program like Miami or Alabama or Georgia, we should be thinking about ways that we can make it happen. ND's current staff has fallen in love with the easy "locked-in 10 games and 2 buy games" model that gets them short term dollars, but that money is going to dry up if fans don't like the games that are being offered.

And if money is really that big of a concern for ND (which I find very hard to believe), I still stand by the statement that more money can be made long term by maintaining our legacy of playing a challenging and diverse schedule than this Harlem Globetrotters act that we're currently trying to set up. One of the biggest reasons why we have such a large fanbase and a national television contract is because of our historical willingness to play other legendary programs in marquee matchups. If we want to continue to grow that fanbase for generations to come (and make money off those fans), we should be looking to protect that legacy.

I hate to keep pointing in their direction as a model for our program (mainly because I can't stand USC and can't stand losing to them every year), but this post on NDNation sums it all up when it comes to USC.


USC is becoming what we used to be in college football. The gold standard and the model for how things should be done. I don't see them crying about "too many heavyweights" or "we can't play you because we are playing Stanford."

USC's 2008 schedule:

at Virginia
Ohio State
at Oregon State
Arizona State
at Washington St
at Arizona
at Stanford
Notre Dame