Notre Dame Reveals 2009-10 Schedules, will play Mount Union in Two-Game Series
Athletic director defends scheduling Division III team by citing rest of home schedule.
NOTRE DAME, IN--Kevin White wants Notre Dame football fans to look at the big picture.
White, the ND athletic director, knows the dates against Mount Union College (October 24, 2009 at Notre Dame and the opener in Alliance, Ohio on September 2, 2010) are raising eyebrows among Notre Dame fans who consider the Division III school an unworthy opponent.
The matchup with the Raiders, the Division III national champions in 2005 and '06, was announced Saturday and rounds out the Irish's 12-game regular seasons.
This is the first time Notre Dame has played a Division III team. Mount Union is a private, liberal arts college with an enrollment of just over 2,000, and has been a Division III power for decades.
"I tell (ND fans) to take a look at our schedule overall first and foremost and see it's one of the toughest and best they'll have had in a few years," White said. "They have (at home) Nevada, BYU, Boston College, Rutgers. Mount Union will be a nice addition."
White said finding a team for that 12th spot has been difficult. He said there were several BCS teams that wanted to schedule Notre Dame, but the Irish had future scheduling constraints and could not return the game.
Some fans are disguntled. Other fans agree with White's belief, that facing the Raiders is not a drawback to a fine home schedule.
"Mount Union won a national championship the last two years, so it is not like the team is terrible," said Charlie St. Amand, 28, from Gary. "I don't mind them playing what will likely be a scrimmage. If that is what it takes to win a national championship, I'm all for it."
The Irish make about $4 million for each home game. Mount Union will make $400,000 for playing at Notre Dame Stadium in 2009, White said, and the teams will split the gate when the Irish travel to Alliance, Ohio in 2010.
"I'm sorry a series with Alabama didn't materialize, but we've been rewarded with something even bigger," said White. "I think it will be an awesome series, especially having the chance to play in venerable Mount Union Stadium [capacity: 5,529], the oldest stadium in Ohio. It will surely be a tough ticket."
The Raiders went 15-0 last season en route to their second-straight national title at what is called the Division IIII Football Championship Subdivision.
"Like everyone around the nation, we have great respect for the tradition at Notre Dame," MUC coach Larry Kehres said in a release. "The fact that they are playing us speaks a lot of our program and the things that we've accomplished."
Irish walk-on Tunney O'Hanlon, 29, a transfer in his second year with the Irish, is not pleased with the matchup.
"What the fook?" he said. "I came all the way over here to play an exhibition? No offense to those lads at Mount Union, but I'd rather chase geese back home. What's next, playing Galway middle school [O'Hanlon's grade school in his native country of Ireland]? Fer fook's sake."
When told of O'Hanlon's comments, White responded, "Would Galway Middle School count towards bowl-eligibility? I'll have to look into that."
White said it is not prudent for Notre Dame to schedule a higher-profile game because the Irish lose on the financial end, and would possibly even lose the game.
"I've been singing this song for a long time," White said of adding a Division III game. "I'm optimistic. We've got a lot of options to engineer a favorable schedule and we've got to look at it. Football is more than just competition."