June 09, 2010

Catholics vs. Catholics: Thoughts on Notre Dame and Boston College extending their series through 2019.

Good news coming out of South Bend this week with the announcement that Notre Dame has extended our series with Boston College by adding six games between 2011 and 2019. Looks like Boston College is coming to Notre Dame in 2011, 2016, and 2018, and Notre Dame will be going to Boston College in 2012.

I know Notre Dame fans are complaining about so many games with BC, but I don’t have a problem with a longer series with BC (and I’m not generally a fan of the long series and was a huge critic of the long extension with Purdue). Whether people want to admit or not, BC is a good series. The games are meaningful, BC plays good football and helps our schedule strength, it’s a good game for east coast exposure, and BC is ALWAYS willing to play us in October and November.

Question for you critics of this series. Would you rather see us play more Tulsas and Western Michigans in November than BC?? Didn’t think so.

Maybe it’s an uncomfortable thing to acknowledge (especially since they’ve built things up while we have floundered in the last 15 years), but BC has a quality football program. Since they joined the ACC in 2005, here’s what they’ve done:

2005 – 9-3 (5-3)
2006 – 10-3 (5-3)
2007 – 11-3 (6-2)
2008 – 9-5 (5-3)
2009 – 8-5 (5-3)

I mean, that’s pretty darn good and they’ve done it in the ACC. If you can win 8-9 games a year playing in the ACC, you’re a pretty strong program. No one is going to question whether Boston College is any good like they would with UConn or even a team like Utah because at least BC has to play some quality competition in the ACC.

If you schedule BC, you’re probably going to play a borderline top 25 team that wins 8-9 games. Heck, other than Michigan and USC, BC is probably the third strongest program on our 2009-2011 schedules. Maybe Pitt instead, but we’re splitting hairs there.

Boston College has found a niche as a blue collar, hard-nosed team that recruits a lot of undervalued 2 and 3 star guys who buy in to the system and contribute by their senior year (or sometimes not until their 5th year). It doesn’t seem to matter who is on the roster. They’ll play good defense, not beat themselves, and try to win the line of scrimmage. I’ve said multiple times on this site that I wish ND play more like BC plays.

Plus, they have sort of an “Anytime, Anywhere” philosophy when it comes to playing ND, so they’ll always play us in October and November if we want. They are one of the few schools outside of the Big East who has actually shown a willingness to play us later in the year.

We bend over backwards to let Purdue dictate the terms on when we play them (even though they jack up the prices for that game) and yet people can’t stand the thought of six games with BC in nine years?? That makes no sense to me.

Purdue is a complete joke program, we already play two other Big Ten team a year, and they play in the same state where we already play 7-8 games a year. If we took a ten year break from Purdue, I wouldn’t slightly miss it. And yet we let them demand a September date on our schedule every year. If you’re mad about playing somebody, be mad about paying Purdue.

Plus, does it get any better than a road trip to Boston for an ND game?? You get to visit a world class city, stay down by the park, walk around downtown, hit up some great Irish bars, and then head over to Chestnut Hill. If I have a choice between going to Boston for a game or freaking West Lafayette, I’m going to Boston. Sure the stadium stinks and the tailgating is weak and they have piped in crowd noise and a microphone on their band, but it’s still a good place to visit for an ND game.

Now I realize that I’m presenting somewhat of a Kevin White-esque false choice between BC and Tulsa/Western Michigan, and I do agree that it would be great for variety purposes to get someone else form the ACC besides Boston College. I would love a November home and home with Clemson or Georgia Tech or maybe an SEC team like South Carolina or Arkansas. If we could replace BC in 2014-2015 with one of those schools, I would do it in a second.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon. Schools don’t seem to want to play us late in the conference season.

Considering all of our late problems scheduling quality competition in November, we should be welcoming this game. When pundits look at an ND-BC matchup, they aren’t pooh-poohing it like they would if we’re playing Navy or Army or some other “buy game.” This is a legitimate home and home series.

One other thing to address: the rivalry aspect. Let’s be honest, Boston College has become a rivalry game. For the most part, I consider BC to be a big game on our schedule. Two Catholic schools, similar student bodies, always a big road trip for the BC students, generally competitive games, lots of ND fans in New England, lost of back and forth between the fan bases, and lots of guys on both rosters who seem to know each other off the field. Maybe we didn’t recruit any of the BC guys, but there are always a bunch of BC guys from the same Catholic schools (e.g. St. Xavier, St. Ignatius, Moeller in Ohio) where we recruit. It’s a bigger game for BC and probably always will be, but it’s been a fairly big game on our end as well. That goal line stand in the 1998 game was one of our more memorable wins in recent memory. And even though we lost both games, the 2002 and 1993 games were big games on our schedule with big time crowds.

In addition, can we stop with the "Boston College fans are classless" nonsense?? There's that word again. CLASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSY. CLASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My least favorite word associated with ND sports. Classy=6-6 and home losses to Navy and tickets lying on the ground for November home games and tee times on Saturday afternoon at Warren. Classy is a word for losers. I'll be the first to admit that I have family with Boston College ties, and the word "classless" is not something I would associate with them. Every fanbase has clown fans (including our own), so painting with the broad brush is a little much. Instead of whining about Boston College fans being classless after beating us, how about we go out and beat them four or five times in a row?? That will quiet them down in a hurry.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the 2011 and 2012 schedules with BC in there. I added BC to the open October 8 spot in 2011 and October 13 in 2012.


S10 @ Michigan
S24 @ Pittsburgh
O01 @ Purdue
O08 Boston College
O15 Army (neutral site)
N26 @ Stanford
One game TBD

That’s not great by any stretch, but it’s certainly better than the 2010 schedule and actually has a surprisingly decent slate of mid-level teams. Instead of playing all these chump mid-majors like Tulsa/Western Michigan/Army, we’re only playing one real laugher game in 2011 (Army) at a neutral site so far. Here’s how it compares to 2010 right now (still one game to add)

2010 2011
Michigan @Michigan
@Boston College BOSTON COLLEGE
PITTSBURGH @Pittsburgh
@Michigan State MICHIGAN STATE
ARMY (neutral) ARMY (neutral)
@Navy NAVY
STANFORD @Stanford
PURDUE @Purdue

We’re trading South Florida and Maryland for Tulsa and Utah, and we still have another game to schedule to replace the Western Michigan game. Assuming Swarbrick can find a half-decent team for that spot, this schedule will be better than 2010. At least we’re making more of an effort. The neutral site game is better, South Florida is a pretty good “buy game,” and BC adds another solid name.

Would it be great if that 12th team was a quality program or a heavyweight?? Sure, I’d love to see it. Put a big game in there for November against someone new and fresh (Wisconsin, Clemson, Tennessee, Oklahoma State), and it would be a great capper on the schedule. But even if the game is somebody like TCU or Syracuse, I could live with that. How about West Virginia?? That would be a nice game.


09/01 - @Navy (Dublin, Ireland)
09/08 - PURDUE
09/15 - at Michigan State
09/22 - MICHIGAN
09/29 - STANFORD
10/06 - Miami (Soldier Field) (not confirmed)
10/13 - @Boston College
10/27 - @ Oklahoma
11/10 - ARMY
11/24 - @ Southern Cal

2012 looks fantastic if the Miami game actually goes down. Best schedule we’ve had in a long time. 3 really strong road games (BC, OU, USC), a great neutral site game (Miami), only one real breather game (Army), and 4 heavyweights (USC, Miami, OU, Michigan). That might be the toughest schedule in the nation in 2012, but I don’t mind it. We’re Notre Dame. We should occasionally play a top 5 type schedule. The fact that Michigan is our 4th biggest game on that schedule is a sign that we are playing some serious competition that year. Plus, BC, Pitt, Sparty, and Stanford in the middle.

Honestly, this is how an ND schedule should look like. I’m ok with toning it down to only play 3 powers a year, but the schedule should always pass the eyeball test. That’s a phenomenal schedule on paper, and no one could possibly question our schedule in 2012. If we go 10-2 that year, we’re going to get a lot of respect from the college football world. Ultimately, that’s what I want.

Anyway, save your complaining about other things with regards to Notre Dame football. BC is a good addition to the schedule, and I’m happy to play them.


Bryan said...

My big problem: What happened to blackballing BC b/c they tried to destroy the Big East?? I was all for that philosphy, as well as never scheduling another ACC game ever...

Anonymous said...

I like the signing of more games with BC. You're right on about all of that.

The whole conference realignment stuff has to shake out before we start worrying too far in the future about our schedule.

If we stay independent, we will have to play a schedule like the proposed 2012 one just about every year. And that 2012 schedule is absolutely killer! It's more difficult than any SEC teams play right now and it would be on par with the best that a mega conference team would play.

The question is, can we continue to schedule 4 power teams every year? And not only that, but can we continue to fill our schedule out with less cupcake teams?

That's what makes that 2012 schedule so dautning. Micigan, Miami, USC and OU....great programs, but there aren't any breather games save for Army. Most SEC teams nowadays play one good team followed by a breather game. We'll still have to fight the perception that Navy, Purdue, BC and Stanford aren't anything to respect, but eventually people will realize how hard it is to play them as our "soft" games.

If you take that 2012 schedule and put it through a ten year period, there'd be at least one or two years where ND would play 8 or 9 ranked teams, and only one sub.500 team. That would be unprecedented.

I think that has to be Swarbrick's strategy going forward...keep 3 to 4 elite programs on there, but also keep as many top 50 or 60 teams as possible. If we stay independent we'll have to accept the fate that we'll probably have to play the nation's hardest schedule year in and year out.

Anonymous said...

Playing BC is great news. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just being a schmuck. They're a quality program, they always have been, and they're a natural rival. Done and DONE. BC is an absolute must and a keeper for any ND schedule. I don't know how or why anyone would rationally argue with that.

As to the larger question of ND's scheduling woes...

First of all, we're a very mediocre program right now, notwithstanding our awesome new coach, who WILL return us to glory. What does it matter to have a heavyweight schedule and then just get beat up on each week? A top-five schedule doesn't mean jack sh*t, as far as a national title is concerned, if we're only 8-4 when it's all over with.

But if we condescend to play Tulsa and Western Michigan, and we go 12-0, or even 11-1, then we're in the title discussion all of a sudden, schedule be damned. At the least were in a big BCS bowl game. Schedule strength, on the whole, does NOT trump W/L record.

Why so many ND fans are so concerned about lining up a murderer's row of badass opponents each year, when he have a losing record over the last three seasons, and serious, genuine unanswered institutional questions about our ability to be competitive at the highest levels going forward, I'm not sure I quite see the logic.

But good news about BC. I can't wait for your next blog, considering today's breaking news on the CFB front.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to schedule murderer's row just so we can hang our hat on the "we play anyone, anywhere, anytime" card.

I think it's a matter of survival.

How long until Michigan becomes a power again?

What will the sanctions do to USC?

Maybe it's good that we have a softer schedule in 2010 (for our standards at least) and that will give Kelly a nice footing going forward, but we can't continue to rely on UM and USC as our only big-time opponents.

Eventually, these super-conferences will ratchet up their competition. It won't be by a whole lot, but with an added conference championship game, a team like Ohio State who could play Michigan, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska in the same year.

We can't compete with that. It's not like we're Boise State either, but if we don't increase our amount of big games we will turn into them regardless of how much we win.

We need to be taken more seriously, and to do that we need to start winning bigger games during the season. We don't need repeats of 2005 and 06 where we only face one elite team and then get blown away when faced with a top 10 opponent in a bowl game. We've alread been there and done that.

Coaching is a heck of a lot more important, but you've got to line up the big games to prove yourself. The proposed 2012 and 2013 schedules are close to perfect in my mind.

We need to gain respect by beating elite teams, not by shuffling our way through an easier schedule. And again, the 2010 schedule won't cut it in the future.

Winning big games is probably the biggest thing I want from Kelly. It is sorely needed for the program and for national attention. The team's psyche needs to know we can beat top 10 teams. Having UM and USC as our only big boys could cut it in the past, but it won't in the future. 4 power teams is a must and we have to have confidence that Kelly will start beating these teams.

Craig said...

Purdue's a good September opponent. We've already got Michigan and Michigan State in that month. A third strong opponent is asking for trouble.