Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is The Shillelagh Game In Trouble?

It was announced yesterday that Notre Dame will move from the Big East to the ACC in all sports except for football and hockey. As per usual, ND has kept their football entity separate because, you know, it's such a national brand.

But there was something more significant in the announcement -- the Domers have committed to play five ACC schools per year in football. That's a big deal, actually. This year, for example, the Irish play no more than three schools from any one conference, with the three being the Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State). Playing five "conference games" (which is effectively what they are, even if they won't be reflected in the ACC standings) eats up a lot of real estate in ND's schedule.

Why am I bringing this up? Because Purdue and Notre Dame have played every year since the '40s (even though it's not a rivalry, remember) and I think that could be in danger.

Morgan Burke was quoted yesterday as saying it "only make sense" that Purdue and ND will continue their regular meetings, but I'm not sure it's something that Morgan can just hang back and assume will happen. It might take some effort/lobbying on his part.

Consider that Notre Dame AD Swarbrick said the Domers are committed to playing USC, Stanford and Navy every season. They also currently face Michigan and Michigan State on a regular basis, and it's fair to say that at least the game vs. Michigan is a marquee matchup on a more national level. If you assume those five games remain and then you add in five ACC games, Notre Dame is down to two slots left. They already have some agreements in place, such as Miami this year in Chicago and a home and home with Oklahoma starting this season, and while I'm too lazy to research their ongoing committments in this regard, it's safe to say Army and others might be already on the schedule in upcoming seasons.

The point is, the 12 game slots are more quickly and easily filled now. You might be thinking you remember reading that Purdue and ND are committed to play through early next decade, and you'd be partially right. But the ever-thorough Mike Carmin of the J&C reported the following:

The schools have an agreement to play annually through 2021, but only the 2013 and 2014 games have signed contracts.

According to information provided to the Journal & Courier through a public records request, the contract for the 2015 game hasn’t been signed and a “letter agreement” exists for the 2016 and 2017 matchups.

I find this interesting and telling. There are also reports that ND is already floating the fact that some of their regular opponents are going to need to get used to the idea of, for example, a two years on, two years off arrangement.

While Purdue and ND have a longstanding history of playing each other regularly, I think this may be the beginning of the end of having ND automatically on the schedule every year. From what Carmin reported, it looks like it would be tough for ND to get out of the games through 2014, but not difficult at all after that. I also think it would be possible for ND to negotiate with Burke and offer future guaranteed matchups (though not annually) in exchange for letting them out of those contracted 2013 and 2014 games. The point? This "rivalry" could dissipate faster than you think.

It also does bring me to a question: do you care? Vote in the poll to the right and let us know your thoughts on this in the comments.


26 comments:

zlionsfan said...

I'd miss the rivalry, but don't know that I'd really miss the games themselves that much. It's kind of like, say, Cal vs. USC: they're in-state rivals (and of course Cal and USC are in the same conference), but they both have other main rivals, and one team has had the upper hand in the rivalry pretty much throughout.

And it's not like Purdue has ever been in a situation where one marquee non-conference game would have helped them get a BCS bid.

Also, I think dropping or reducing the frequency of the rivalry would increase the separation between the Big Ten and ND. The less likely it is that overtures to South Bend are ever repeated, the happier I'll be. We don't need them.

COD said...

I agree with the above. I'll kind of miss the game, but if we replace it with one we can win more than once a decade it might be a net positive. Also, not having to interact with their arrogant fans every year wouldn't be a bad thing.

COD said...

Also - I'm not seeing a poll in the sidebar. It might be my adblocker.

Rob said...

My first thought when hearing this was pretty much the same as COD. While it may take a few years to get used to, I would rather us schedule a non-con game against a mid-level major conference team from the Big 12, SEC, or Pac 12 that we have a chance of beating. As much as I hate to say it, ND is on it's way up as a program and I don't see us having a chance at beating them more than once or twice in the next decade.

zlionsfan said...

Good point about the fans. I was thinking that but forgot to include it. I think there are probably about 90-95 other I-A schools we could play that would have a more reasonable fan base than Notre Dame.

Sean said...

Where is this "poll" you speak of?

As for the game? Good Riddance! We dont need to schedule them, their fan base is insufferable and the B1G should not be in the business of helping out TSISB; if they want to go play with the noted powers in the superconference that is the ACC, they can go ahead.

I really think the BIG should either a) push the PAC to reconsider the scheduling agreement or b) start talking to the SEC about setting something up. the Playoff format is going to force the hands of the top tier schools who need the marquee games and "ease of scheduling" is going to play into that. Couple that with the potential to add another conference game for SOS purposes and we become the ones who dont have time for TSISB

boxercr said...

When I was student and young alumnus, I would have been upset at the prospect of not playing Our Lady of Football. Now, dont let the door hit you on the way out. This makes the possibility of match-ups like the Oregon home and home from a couple years ago that was so entertaining more likely. SB fans and adiministration havent seen this game as important since the 70s or 80s. Time for us to turn the page.

Santos L. Halper said...

Given the ties between ND and Purdue, I would say it's more likely that ND continues to play Purdue and drop Michigan. Of the 3 annual Big Ten games ND plays, Purdue and Michigan State have a better chance of staying on the schedule than Michigan.

David Schoon said...

Nice post J. This is the first thing I thought of when I heard ND was going to the ACC. I'll say I will miss the in-state rivalry.

The second thing, I wonder if the Big Ten said we want all (football) or nothing... Wonder what everyone's thoughts on that are.

zlionsfan said...

The Big Ten would be fools to get scammed the way the Big East was (and the ACC might be, although ND's drawing power isn't nearly what it was, back in an era where games weren't on six days a week). Bring football to the table or stay home. We're not dividing up a pie you had no interest in helping to bake.

I would imagine the Big Ten's approach to everyone was about the same: you will be an equal partner (aside from initially-decreased revenue). Not Animal Farm-style equal, either. If that's not OK, see ya.

Santos L. Halper said...

To David Schoon, yes, the Big Ten has been pursuing ND aggressively for many years. However, they wanted them only as a full football member. I don't think ND ever had any interest in the Big Ten because they did not want to be tied to a full conference schedule in football, and a conference like the Big East, and now the ACC, are much better fits for ND in the non-football sports.

BoilerRick said...

a small point but the Miami series with ND would count as one of the 5 ACC games so that opens a slot

BoilerWhat said...

I think this is the Domers telling their midwest fanbase to F off. Midwest Domers enjoy having MSU, UM, and PU as close road games. I see Swarprick nixing two these games to build his "national" brand. They will cut PU asap and I couldn't care less.

J Money said...

Rick -- Right, but isn't the Miami game part of some "Classic" they've conjured up? My point is just that that's another game they've likely got teams in mind for for future years... now maybe they'll be ACC teams, yes, but also maybe not.

Ryan said...

I care a pretty decent amount. I don't want to play ND anymore. I don't think MSU should play them anymore. I don't think UofM should play them anymore. Nothing would give me more pleasure than Delany discouraging all B1G teams from scheduling any events with ND.

Unfortunately, I think the most likely outcome is a 2-out-of-3 rotation with MSU and UofM.

Beenken said...

I feel more than a little insulted that they don't consider this rivalry game historic or important. At this point their move to the ACC is like having your long time girlfriend cheat on you with 14 other dudes... We shouldn't be the pathetic schmuck who still buys her gifts and dinner while she's screwing around with the lacrosse team. It's time to cut the Dame off completely, listen to some Meatloaf and get on with our life... There are other fish in the sea... But hopefully we don't just turn to the ugly girls in the MAC.

ATL_Boilers said...

I wouldn't be upset to not see them on the schedule going forward. Like a few others already noted, freeing up a game to play some home-home match-ups against a variety of schools from around either the country or Midwest (Mizzou, K-State, Texas Tech, etc) could be a lot more interesting and beneficial in the long run.

The Accidental Expat said...

I'm conflicted. Tradition is tradition, and beating storied programs like ND is a memorable experience for the players, coaches and fans. Even though the BTN shows plenty of Boilermaker games now, I'm sure the coaching staff entices potential recruits with the tagline that they will be on national TV every year playing ND-- so it's a recruiting tool, and a great hook.

The flip side is that I'm tired of arrogant UND fans and a rivalry that has become one-sided. If one is to believe tiresome unfounded speculation from Domer bloggers, Purdue's only on the schedule out of a combination of habit, laziness and some sort of enforced, hidebound tradition. I'd rather see games played against upper-Midwest programs like Missouri and Iowa State, even near-midwest schools like Pitt and WVU.

Burke, hear me now: offer to immediately remove UND off the football schedule in exchange for placing the Irish on the basketball schedule on a regular basis. If Swarbrick is all about the dollars and cents (UND football is a cash cow; basketball, not so much) he will jump at this despite his vocal opposition to the idea in the past. This way the rivalry between the -schools- can continue, while it sets up what is an essentially new rivalry in a different sport.

As far as UND's quasi-membership in the ACC, I honestly thought it was an April Fool's joke gone astray. Domer football will continue on its march to near-irrelevance with their ACC opponents-- I doubt regularly playing the likes of Maryland, Duke and NC State will do much for their strength of schedule component.

Plang said...

Good thoughts here. I'm torn as well, but at the end of the day, I know my opinion doesn't really matter much to the powers that be.
ND and their fans don't really think of Purdue as a "rivalry": we're just a "W" on the schedule. But since with all the changes in college football over the last two years, shouldn't we expect something like this. ND wants to keep their TV rights for themselves, and so the ACC bent over for them. The B1G(12) wasn't willing to do that. Good on the B1G. I now look to Burke (and not holding my breath) to set up another good game to take the place of ND. A PAC12 team would be great (I'm biased). But another mid-level team from a major conference would be great.

hankrrt said...

One thing that I haven't seen brought up a lot lately is the fact that a home Notre Dame game is pretty much a guaranteed sell-out. Which is a huge boon to a program like ours who struggles to sell games out otherwise. For example, last year 61,555 people were at Ross-Ade for the Notre Dame game. Average attendance for Purdue football last year was only 45,225. It would be hard to find another non-conference opponent who can be that big of a local draw. Not to mention the fact that the game is televised nationally on a non-cable network which helps raise Purdue's profile and helps with recruiting. If I had a vote, I'd cast it to keep the game, no doubt.

zlionsfan said...

The road games are national on NBC; last year's game was ESPN (and regional IIRC). The point about attendance is solid, though. I think there are no other non-conference opponents who will draw like that and also come to West Lafayette. (Few draw like that, period.)

I would guess the recruiting benefits are marginal. Being on regional TV is one thing; getting whacked on regional TV is another. It helps more than, say, playing Western Kentucky on BTN, and there's no guarantee Burke would replace ND with a name school, but I think the idea of playing regional opponents, particularly ones closer to Purdue's level (Missouri, for example), is probably better in the long run ... we're more likely to already be recruiting in those areas, and kids are more likely to be watching those games in the first place.

MrAnonymous said...

I will miss the game. I also question how easily it will be to lock in a solid out of conference opponent year after year. Though, isn't there going to be an 11th B1G game in a few years? Three directional school games and 11 B1G games will be a decent season.

J Money said...

I think you mean a 9th, BT game, right? There are 8 right now.

But yes, you're right... more conf games makes out of conf scheduling more tricky.

ubuckone said...

I am old enough to be set in my ways, and I would miss the ND game, arrogant fans and butt-whoopings notwithstanding. However, if we have to give them up, could we set up a permanent rivalry with Louisville or Kentucky? Those schools are more than close enough to encourage road trips both ways. The states of Indiana and Kentucky already have high school basketball rivalries (in the form of the annual all-star games), so the thought of an annual slugfest on the gridiron could generate a lot of buzz. Plus, I have lots of cousins who are UofL and UK fans, so I could tweak them. The trophy could be a huge Mason Jar of water from the Ohio River.

However, in all seriousness, I could see a Hoosier State/Bluegrass State football rivalry being a positive change and a new reason to get excited about Boilermaker football.

tippet523 said...

This year ND plays 3 ACC teams already. BC, Miami and Wake Forest.

They could drop Oklahoma, Pitt or BYU before they drop Purdue.

plus they like to have another close road game for Alums

tippet523 said...

http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/073007aab.html

UM-ND booked till 2031