Pinstripe bowl ends up as best fit for Irish

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The Irish practiced yesterday, with Brian Kelly meeting with the local media to discuss preparation for the Pinstripe Bowl. Notre Dame will practice ten times between now and the 28th, with the Irish spending Christmas in New York, leaving South Bend on the 23rd.

While other bowls were discussed, and for a time the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego looked like the probable destination for Notre Dame, Brian Kelly talked about why New York and the Pinstripe Bowl was the best fit.

Logistical challenges played a key role. Beyond working around the conference tie-ins that made the Poinsettia Bowl and Hawaii Bowl a tough fit, Kelly talked about the difficulties making things work with the Irish’s academic calendar.

While Kelly talked about giving the seniors a vote in the process and hopefully playing in a sunny locale, the Irish head coach walked the media through the university’s thought process and why the Pinstripe Bowl ended up making the most sense.

“There were three or four bowls that were certainly vying for Notre Dame as we were going through this process.  The Poinsettia Bowl was certainly one those we were interested in.  One of the things is we were going to be tied into some of these bowls, particularly the Pinstripe, once we entered our new agreement.

“We were trying to look to getting into a bowl that we wouldn’t have any alliances moving forward.  San Diego, being in the west, let’s take a shot at that one.  Once Northern Illinois lost that football game, that kind of evaporated any opportunity for us in that game.

“The other one was the Hawaii Bowl.  But because of our exam schedule, which took us through the 20th, we would have had to have gone out there on 21, 22, 23.  It would have been practice, practice, practice, play the game.  They don’t hold the hotel rooms after the game for you.  You have to leave or find other accommodations, right?

“The guys go for three days, practice, play the game, then it’s like, All right, you got to go home.  Didn’t make a lot of sense to go there three days, practice, play the game, then, Sorry guys. If we could have stayed for two, three days after, have some things organized, maybe we could have done something with the Hawaii Bowl.  It didn’t make sense for us to do that.”

All that being said, the Pinstripe Bowl was far from a consolation prize. As you’d expect from a bowl game that’s managed by the New York Yankees, Kelly talked about the sales pitch he got from bowl executive director John Mosley, a former Irish football player.

“John Mosley would not leave me alone,” Kelly said with a laugh. “Quite honestly, I think I told him to get out of my office a couple of times.  He was here for the weekend against BYU.  I know John very well.  My relationship goes back to Culver Academy with him.  John is a great guy.

“But they were here, and he wouldn’t leave.  He wouldn’t take no for an answer. We’re excited about it.  It’s fresh in our memory about how we were treated by the Yankees, and they’re going to make sure that happens again.”

That game in 2010 was a wonderful experience for both the football team and Notre Dame fans. Domers flocked to Manhattan, over-running Time Square to hear the marching band, with Manhattan and Yankee Stadium filled with Notre Dame fans as the Irish clinched their first bowl bid under Brian Kelly beating Army 27-3.

So while there’ll be no sunscreen needed this bowl season, the Irish get a chance to take on a Rutgers team that’ll join the Big Ten next season.

“It’s New York. It’s New York at Christmastime,” Kelly said. “Just the ability to do a lot of things. A lot of these guys haven’t been to New York at that time.  They were pretty excited about it.”