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Conference conversation, continued…

Mar 11, 2010, 12:34 PM EST

As you’d expect, the conference affiliation talk got everybody riled up, even though the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen accurately points out that it was an “over-reactive rehash of ND’s position on ND’s position.”

A few additional thoughts worth mentioning again:

* I’ve reached out to a few of the more educated Notre Dame fans that I know asking for some context on why people seem to run away and hide when even discussing the fact that Notre Dame might — eventually, depending on the actions of other schools — consider joining a conference in football. I’ve yet to have any one make the definitive argument against joining a conference. (At least one that I thought was definitive.) If you think you can make it, please shoot me an email and I’ll post the best one that I get.

* People talk about the inflexibility that comes with playing in a conference, but I’d argue that the 7-4-1 schedule that Notre Dame is trying to employ is much more rigid than just about any conference affiliation. People also mention the academic fit between the Irish and the Big Ten. Since when has Notre Dame allowed its affiliations on the athletic field dictate its agenda in the classroom? News yesterday that the Irish would have to “court” the Big Ten to join the conference made me chuckle, if only because there’s a zero percent chance that the Irish would come groveling to the powers-that-be in the Big Ten asking for acceptance. The Big Ten needs Notre Dame far more than Notre Dame needs the Big Ten.

* Last week, Brian Fremeau of BCFToys and FootballOutsiders.com did an interesting piece on the connectivity of Top 25 teams in college football. Taking data from 1989, Fremeau calculated that 52 games took place between teams ranked in the AP’s final poll, checking in at 8.9 percent, or roughly 1 in 11 games. During the 2009 season, even with the NCAA expanding from 106 to 120 teams, only 39 games were played between teams ranked at the end of the season, dropping to 5.5 percent, or roughly 1 in 19 games. In twenty years, the frequency of high-caliber matchups has dropped nearly 40 percent.

While Brian didn’t base this study as a case for conference affiliation, the perception of conference games being difficult and non-conference games being cakewalks certainly hurts the Irish. Just last summer, talking heads everywhere were criticizing Notre Dame’s schedule, when in reality it turned out to be a respectable 37th in the country, better than Texas, and every single team in the Big Ten except Minnesota.

* John Heisler, Notre Dame’s senior associate athletics director made an interesting observation on the media storm that came from Swarbrick’s comments. Here’s a piece of his Daily Dish.

If you are wondering how sports headlines come about, understand that sometimes it’s almost by accident. Take Tuesday, for example. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, in New York for a day of events with Notre Dame-connected groups, was visiting with a small group of New York-based sportswriters over coffee that morning at the Barking Dog café on 34th Street. The event was designed as more of a “meet and greet” session for media who don’t make it to South Bend every day. Most of the conversation wasn’t headline news, but Kelly at one point was asked about his thoughts on conference affiliation. Meanwhile, Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick just happened to stop by the session to listen – and he, too, was hit with the question about conferences. What Swarbrick said wasn’t necessarily new or groundbreaking – but it maybe involved more of a national assessment of the conference landscape than had been voiced. In any event, the nature and context of Swarbrick’s remarks immediately prompted the Associated Press to run a short item, followed by a more in-depth feature later in the day – and the New York Times wrote a full-blown piece that ended up the lead sports story at the top of the page in Wednesday’s print edition.

Can you imagine what the interest will be in Notre Dame football if they finally start playing consistent, winning football?

  1. Jake - Mar 16, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    Actually College Football is the minor league for the NFL and best of all it’s free.
    Colleges make money, the Networks make money and the only thing that takes a hit is academics. Some of these Colleges deserve the nane of Thug University.
    Until the NCAA and the colleges decide that college really means getting a education and “sports” are just sports it will never change. This is especially true now that The Boys From Bristol have discovered how lucrative CF can be.

  2. shazamrock - Mar 16, 2010 at 7:58 AM

    I kind of like that idea of a NFL minor league team. The only ones who should go to a major college is someone who is qualified and will get the most out of it. Colleges have limitations. They can only hold and educated a specific number of students. But you know there are those who have the grades and desire to excel in college, but get turned away from the college of their choice so some C MINUS
    student who also happends to be a great football player can be added to the football team. He probably stuggles in the class room the whole time he is there (even with a bunch of Mickey Mouse classes that make it easier for him to stay on the field) and leaves for the NFL after his junior year, never getting a degree.
    He just wasted time and space that could have been better used for someone else, all in the name of college football and the holy dollar.

  3. shazamrock - Mar 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Neighbors report that there is a new Hummer H3 with spinner rims parked in the Henderson’s driveway.
    Seantrel all set to sign with USC this Friday.
    Dad was seen shopping for a Condo with wall to wall shag in Malibu. Last heard shouting “It’s geat to be a Trojan!”

  4. grandspashyena - Mar 17, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    And a happy St Paddy’s Day to the Hendersons

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