April 28, 2009

Scheduling Tidbits

Buried in the news of Domers signing on with NFL teams as free agents is a tasty nugget of scheduling info, courtesy of East Lansing. Looks like the series that took root in 1897 will officially continue through 2025, and that's fine. I have no qualms maintaining our relationship with MSU. They probably rank 3rd in terms of historical tradition with Notre Dame - USC and Michigan obviously being ahead of them.

A couple thoughts: HUGE statement from Dantonio & Co. with home-and-homes against West Virginia and Alabama. I'm sure the Spartan faithful will work themselves into a frenzy welcoming Saban back to town. Alabama and Notre Dame as non-conference opponents in 2016-17 might be biting off more than Sparty can chew, but I tip my cap to them for having the cajones to pull it off.

More important for Notre Dame's future schedule flexibility are the two-year breaks in the extension with Michigan State, due in 2014-15 and 2020-21. Weis and Swarbrick must jump at the opportunity to beef up the schedule with another traditional jewel like Texas, Bama, Florida, Miami, Georgia or LSU. If MSU can do it, it would be a shame if we didn't up the ante and cue up some "Games of the Year" in their place. I can't even fathom the prospect of more watered down regional matchups. That's not what Irish football was built on.

There's a glimmer of hope. At the Annual Rockne dinner for the Chicago Alumni Club last week, Swarbrick spoke about the tradition of playing national schedules, specifically Jesse Harper's first season on the sidelines in 1913. Harper scheduled road games with Army, Penn State and Texas within 27 days of each other, en route to a 7-0 undefeated campaign and putting Notre Dame football on the map for good. When Rockne took the reins, he merely continued Harper's legacy of testing yourself against the best competition. The fact that Swarbrick is publicly talking about this tradition bodes well. Hopefully there's some exciting news to come shortly.


Doug said...

I also hope that we use this "break" from Michigan State to take on some traditional powers like you mentioned. I have to think that Swarbrick is tired of hearing the national pundits mention how weak our schedule is this upcoming year every time they talk about Notre Dame. Is that really the first thing we want said about our football program?? The fact that we are an independent makes it even worse.

I also will note that the school I really wanted a two year break from is Purdue!! If anything, I want to play Michigan State every year. They are always a solid opponent with good tradition. We've had some great battles with MSU through the years.

Meanwhile, Purdue is a MAC school with a bigger stadium. There is no reason that we play them every single year and use up a valuable home and home spot for them. If we're going to play Purdue, it should be a handful of times over the course of a decade.

Very impressive for Michigan State to line up those games with West Virginia and Alabama. It makes me wonder why Notre Dame cannot seem to accomplish the same in spite of some of the recent talk. How is it that Sparty can get home and homes with some big time teams like Alabama and West Virginia while we are floundering around trying to lock up "partnerships" with UConn and Syracuse and Army??

I am supportive of Swarbrick, but we're getting to the point where we're going to need to see some results. If schools like Michigan State can get these things done, there is absolutely ZERO reason why Notre Dame can't do the same. Swarbrick has talked the talk. It seems like he is saying all the right things about wanting to restore ND's tradition of high quality schedules and talking about a deal with Miami (FL) for a series, but words are meaningless until we start seeing these games signed on the dotted line. It's time for some action. He's had a year to get his feet wet, and hopefully that year has given him an understanding that the schedules need to be upgraded.

There are currently two open spots on the 2010 football schedule and three open spots on the 2011 football schedule. It is going to be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting to see who starts to pop up on those schedules. There is plenty of room for a marquee opponent on either schedule. If we go out and get a big time home and home in both those years, I'm going to be singing the praises of Jack Swarbrick. If we line up UConn/Syracuse types, that would be disappointing.

Here's how they look for now:


S18 @ Michigan St.
O02 @ Boston College
O16 Army (Chicago)
O23 @ Navy (Baltimore)
N13 Utah
N27 @ Southern Cal
2 games TBD


S03 @ Purdue
S10 @ Michigan
S24 @ Pittsburgh
O15 Army (Orlando)
N26 @ Stanford
3 games TBD

Matt said...

I agree. We're past the point of any talk out of Swarbrick. Until I see it, I'm going to believe that he is still following the Kevin White school of scheduling.

Jimmy said...

Agree that results are needed. Yesterday. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we obliged to play 3 Big East teams every year for the time being? If that's the case, then those two empty slots for 2010 are already "locked up." It's just a matter of which subpar BE opponent we'll play. While it would be great to make West Virginia and South Florida perennial BE partners, I highly doubt that will be the case. I'm curious if BC counts as a BE slot since we likely agreed to that game when they were still in the conference.

Doug said...

I could be completely wrong on this, but my understanding of the Big East deal is that it was more of a "goal" than a formal contract. When it came out, there was talk about playing three Big East teams a year and of playing all the teams in the Big East at least once. I haven't heard much about that in the last year or two, so I was sort of under the impression that it was on the backburner. There were never any official terms released that indicate that we are obligated to play 3 Big East teams a season. It seems like we are pursuing individual contracts instead. We have the long term contract with Pitt and possibly one with UConn (ugh), but the "three Big East teams a year" thing doesn't seem to be a formal contract. I think we can play as many or as few as we want in a given year. Then again, Kevin White was at the helm, so nothing would surprise me on that front.

I don't have a problem with playing Big East teams as filler for a 12 game schedule, but those games should not be top priority that take away our ability to play some better home and home series.

Bottom line, if we use that "three Big East teams a year" thing as a crutch to avoid more interesting schedules, I'm going to have a hard time embracing the Jack Swarbrick as any substantial change from the Kevin White era. Scheduling stuff is always negotiable. There are teams around the country that are adjusting their schedules all the time. We can do the same. There is absolutely no reason we should feel obligated to schedule two mediocre Big East teams or "buy games" in 2010 when we already have two service academies and a bunch of other boring games on there. As of right now, we only have three true road games scheduled for 2010. Are we a college football program or the Harlem Globetrotters?

I'm tired of the constant excuses for why we CAN'T do something. Our response to the Miami (FL) request should have been "ANYTIME, ANYWHERE." Instead, our response was "well, we're waiting on Baylor and UConn to respond and we'll have to monitor the landscape and see if the money is right and check with our other "long term partners" and the whether it fits our "core values" and all this other nonsense. Stop making excuses and get something done.

With that said, if we have UConn and a "buy game" on the schedule in 2010 but also announce a big home and home with Texas for that 2014-15 time frame, then I'm willing to give Swarbrick a pass for 2010. If the long term direction looks good, I can live with a couple more years of bad schedules.

Our football program has devolved into this hybrid Walt Disney/Harlem Globetrotters sideshow over the last 20 years. The days of Holtz/Hesburgh/Corrigan where we could count on excellence on the field and top notch schedules and exciting atmospheres and great coaching are becoming a relic of another era. We're in need of some true leadership to get us some respect back within the college football world. I'm tired of fans around the country laughing at our program for shoddy play, bad schedules, and bad coaching.

I hope Swarbrick can be the guy to give the leadership that the school badly needs. I know he is still getting his feet wet, so I have been more than willing to be patient and support him. We are about to find out a lot more about what he plans to do as AD over the next year with the following on his plate:

1) Finalizing 2010 schedule
2) Possible additions to the 2011 schedule
3) Determing the future for Charlie Weis
4) Determining the future for Mike Brey

Should be interesting. Go Irish.

Jimmy said...

Jay from BGS gophered this article from 2005 which discusses the "3-game commitment." It comes off as a soft commitment to try and make it work though and Swarbrick has never made mention of it.


This quote sticks out, "WVU is expected to play Notre Dame within the first two years of the deal, in 2009 or 2010."

But this was 4 years ago and priorities certainly change. I wouldn't be opposed to playing the Mountaineers, but it's still not a marquee matchup in my book. Who knows if Bill Stewart really knows what he's doing.