One of our readers has chimed in via email with a rumor of a possible deal for a Notre Dame-Southern Mississippi series starting in 2010. I don't know how you couldn't trust someone with a screen name like Art Vandalay (yup, these are our readers?), but I haven't been able to confirm this rumor. Word from our insider is that Southern Mississippi would come to Notre Dame in 2010 with a return neutral site game in the Super Dome in New Orleans. Southern Miss is only an hour from New Orleans, so presumably they would bring a lot of fans to the Dome. Gotta think this would be a huge game for the Southern Miss fans and for the entire New Orleans area.
If these rumors are true, here's how the ND football schedule would be shaping up for 2010:
S18 @ Michigan St.
O02 @ Boston College
O23 @ Navy (NY/NJ)
N7 Southern Miss
N20 Army (Yankee Stadium)
N27 @ Southern Cal
Nothing against our friends from Tulsa and Southern Miss, but I didn't think I'd see the day where we'd have not one, but two, Conference USA schools on our schedule in November. I could live with one of those games, but do we really need to play both of them?? Throw in Army, and that's not exactly murderer's row right there leading up to Southern Cal. Perhaps that rumored TCU game would not be looking quite as bad right about now?? I'd have no problem opening the year with Southern Miss or Tulsa (similar to what we did with Nevada), but there have to be better options for November than Southern Miss.
Who is going to attend those games in November?? (well, I can think of one person) Southern Miss and Tulsa?? We have enough problems getting people to South Bend for Michigan State these days. Are we really going to sell out games against Southern Miss and Tulsa in November?? At what point do all these buy games no longer make financial sense?? Or are the home game dollars that lucrative that it doesn't matter who we schedule as long as people show up and buy $50 sweatshirts by the armful at the book store??
And not only that, but we might play them at a neutral site as well?? Two games against Southern Miss?? Really?
Might want to keep an eye on how Southern Miss and Tulsa look this year in case they do end up on the schedule. The Golden Eagles have gotten off to a 2-0 start and have Virginia and Kansas coming up on the schedule. Tulsa is sort of like the Nevada of the Midwest with a potent offense that comes mainly against CUSA caliber defenses.
The second half of that schedule is not going to win us a lot of friends among the pollsters. Playing Navy, Tulsa, Southern Miss, Utah, Army all in a row is the type of schedule you'd see from someone like East Carolina. Or Memphis. Certainly not Notre Dame. But that's what we could be looking at in 2010.
The good news is that Michigan and USC look like they'll be very good, and Utah might end up being a top 15 type team if they continue to build their program. This schedule really needs one more big game, but I would expect that at least 2-3 teams will be ranked when we play them next year.
Anyway, guess we'll have to stay tuned for any announcements from the athletic department. Swarbrick does not seem to be in any hurry to finalize the 2010 schedule, which could be a good thing or just a delay tactic. Definitely the latest we have ever gone without announcing the completed schedule. Even the Tulsa game has not been announced yet although it appears likely to happen on October 30. Is Swarbrick trying to find the right time to sneak in a Southern Miss announcement or is he out there hunting for a big time home and home series?? Stay tuned.
Swarbrick, before you finalize that 2010 game, think about what you are doing to the brand. I understand that Kevin White put you in a bind and that there aren't a lot of options, but you are ultimately the guy in charge right now. The 2010 schedule is still not finalized, and you still have the final say on how it will be set up. This is Notre Dame. At some point, you gotta give up a couple dollars to protect our integrity as a football power and as an independent. The long term value to the brand will outweigh the short term financial gain. I think you can do better than Southern Miss.