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POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11
Cool thread about an interesting topic, even with the tangents.
tomporraz: I agree completely that the ACC is the best fit from an academic and athletic profile for ND's non-football sports.
Swarbrick has been consistent that the only way ND looks at a conference is if the Playoff cold shoulders ND. The fact that the ACC and Big12 have not moved on expansion suggests they are holding out hope that ND jumps in. That speaks to the leverage ND has, but that is limited, as the ACC has said ND is either all-in or all-out.
I think, more than any other time in its history, ND has the right folks in place to convince the administration to join a conference. I think Swarbrick has the measure of this whole situation and the ear of the President if he feels it is worth it to make the move to a conference.
dave83: it doesnt matter if we keep the 15Mil from NBC; ACC schools are now making more than ND; the Pac-12 isn't too far behind, and are probably making more b/c the Pac-12 Network allows the schools to keep some of their 3rd tier rights money. At some point, money will win out. As for tv draw, ND puts folks in seats, but they aren't necessarily puttin eyes on the tubes. The ratings for NDs games are low, and have been for several years.
as fas as tv goes, ND has to be careful. In spite of its exclusivity, ND does not provide NBC with a lot of inventory, outside of 7 FB games a year. NDs biggest ratings games last year occurred on OTHER networks (UM and Stanford), not NBC. That is a problem; why should NBC pay that money for 1-2 blockbuster games a year (UM and SC this year, UT in another year). The model for ND is UT, if they remain independent. They could partner with NBC to put all its sports on NBC's networks, a la the Longhorn network. They are starting to do that, but Swarbrick is on record of pushing the online content model. That's great for watching non-revenue sports, but not great at convincing a network to go all-in with big bucks.
Which leads to the schedule. Sure, NBC is not in the room when Swarbrick and co hash out the schedule, but they are in the room. That's why you open with USF, UT and/or Navy. It's all about providing NBC with content it can sell; open with Air Force too many times (something like a 0.09 rating last year) and NBC isn't giving you 15M. However...
the argument that opening with a patsy isn't necessarily supported by the facts or the fanbase. Alabama is opening with UM this year; LSU has opened with WVU and Oregon; SC plays big games (and the Big-10/Pac-12 will do more), UT played OSU. I would argue ND has had some balance with respect to the opening of the schedule: 2 "should win" games (typically the opener and Purdue) and UM and MSU
2002: Maryland (10-3), Purdue, UM, MSU
2004: BYU (5-6), UM, MSU, UW
2008: SDSU (2-10), UM, MSU, Purdue
Look at Alabama: obviously our "should win" games are of better caliber
2008: Clemson, Tulane, WKU, Arkansas
2009: VaTech, FIU, No Tx, Arkansas
2011: Kent St, Penn St, No Tx, Arkansas
Now it's a big deal b/c we lost to USF. We "should" beat Navy and Purdue if we are ND. The reality is we're on the path to making these gimme's every year. This isn't an SEC-schedule of USC, UGA, UF, UT and Vandy. In a row or in combination with either Arkansas, LSU or Alabama as a x-over game.
IF (and that's a big if) ND is back, I think this years schedule is a nice model:
2 gimmes followed by UM/MSU
UM (winnable) before Stanford; BYU (winnable) before OU
close with 3 winnables and SC
Handle business like this: win the opening 2, split and ur 3-1
beat UM and BYU, split the other 2 and ur 6-2 with a win over top-15 OU/Stanford
go 3-1/4-0 and ur 10-2 and hello BCS
I know many here wont agree with this, but part of the case against the schedule is our angst about the state of our team. My guess is Vegas likes the talent on this years team and puts the over/under on wins for ND this year at 9.
Finally, the fans dont want cupcakes; we complain about the schedule then wonder why the heck we scheduled UMass or Western Michigan or (gulp) Tulsa. The reality is once ND is back to where it needs to be, Purdue and Navy will suffice for a North Texas or UMass.
Comments or rebuttals welcomed; this has been a good discussion
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by J_Law 23 months ago
J_Law, that was a very good post, but I don't want to take up space quoting it all, just enough to reference it here.
This is a multi-faceted issue, and I'm guessing none of us are completely conversant with all the variables involved. Because this is a football board, and we are all football fans, we take a football-centric view of the decision. No question, football wields the most clout because of the money involved, but it is not even clear how that all breaks down. Television, to be sure, is a big piece of it, but with ND, financial matters get intertwined with many other considerations, not the least of which is contributions. I don't know who they have crunching these numbers, but I think it requires a fairly sophisticated analysis to incorporate all the variables that come into play here, and then to take it to the next level and project the kind of financial impact that joining a conference will have on the bottom line. All of which is to say, I doubt any of us are really in a position to address the financial ramifications of a conference move unless somebody here is actually one of those numbers crunchers, and if so, they're not going to be tipping their hand anyway.
We've already beaten the schedule thing into the ground, and I think your post was helpful in indicating it's not quite so obvious as many of us would like to think, at least relative to other programs. The reality is that even in a conference, it would still be a priority to schedule meaningful early season games for either financial reasons or to meet the geographical concerns of a university with a nationwide fan and alumni base. I completely agree with you that much of the angst about schedule is an offshoot of frustration about the team's performance on the field. As Lou S. likes to point out, issues like this and academics get thrown around considerably more when the team is 8-5 than when it is 11-2.
Another big factor is the non-football piece of the puzzle, and the uncertainties of the future of the Big East. In many ways this has served ND well, but the ground is shifting under our feet on almost a daily basis. Suffice to say, there are many complex variables in this equation, and Jack Swarbrick will be involved in some high stakes poker in the months and years ahead.
I see no reason to remain an independent. Joining a conference would greatly improve bowl options and give the team another championship to win. Joining the ACC and keeping Southern Cal on the schedule is every bit the national schedule compared to year's. If you include Pitt, there are four games against ACC teams this year. Playing four more shouldn't be a big deal, especially when it gets games in the state of Florida.
Keeping football as an independent stopped making sense in the last 5-10 years and I think it has hurt the program. If you start 2-2, which has been the norm, and the season is over. If the ACC allows ND to keep the NBC contract for home games, there is no reason not to join.
*Maintain rivalaries with Michigan, Sparty, Stanford, and USC. That's one game in California every year for Notre Dame. Also, we have 1 neutral site game every year - Yankee Stadium, San Antonio, Soldier Field, Fed Ex Field, etc. That keeps your team constantly in the spotlight.
*National fanbase, regional conference. Makes little sense. How many ND fans are going to fly to South Bend to see a team they play every year? It's one thing if Duke is on the schedule for a year or two but when you play them every year in football it becomes tedious.
*Maintain ability to negotiate exclusive television contract. You may not understand how it works but once you join a conference your ability to negotiate things like TV contracts is limited a great deal. You can sign an exemption clause but how long does that clause last for? Also, why would a national network want to broadcast a regional team?
Joining a conference would be a huge mistake. ND still holds all the cards. When they don't then they should consider a conference. But we've seen that the road to Super Power conferences is a winding road with many unseen bumps along the way.
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