Sunday, June 07, 2009

Scheduling and Such | by Jay

I've just spent a few minutes jotting a list of the scheduling news & rumors we've heard in the past few months. Here's the executive briefing.

1. On the possible Miami series, the latest update was in April. Although Heisler poured cold water on the idea, Miami AD Kirby Hocutt is keeping hope alive.

One of the things Hocutt said he has become more involved in since taking over has been the future scheduling of opponents. He wants to get UM involved in big-time games including playing Notre Dame again and getting Florida on the schedule...

Speaking of down the road and opportunities, Hocutt seemed more confident there could be a future meeting with Miami and Notre Dame than with the Canes and Gators, who are currently scheduled to meet for the last time in football at Dolphins Stadium in 2013.

"If there is any way whatsoever to get [a series with Notre Dame] done, we'll get it done," Hocutt said. "I don't want to lead people on or sound too optimistic, but there has been an initial phone call and another conversation through a mutual relationship [TV]. There's definitely interest on both sides. If it's something we can get done in the future it sounds like we're both committed to it."
2. They may play football at Yankee Stadium again, and Swarbrick wants them to put the Irish on the docket. This is a great idea, and probably deserving of its own blog post (or three) just to explore the history of Notre Dame, Army, and football at Yankee Stadium.

3. An Army series was confirmed ('twas already rumored), to start in 2010. This could be a candidate for a Yankee Stadium game. Seems like a game in 2013 would make sense given the 100-year anniversary of the 1913 ND-Army game.

4. In late May, rumors of a possible Wisconsin series surfaced. Wisco AD Barry Alvarez hinted at Notre Dame scaling back its Purdue commitment with the Badgers to potentially fill the gap.
According to Alvarez, Notre Dame officials are revamping their annual series with Big Ten Conference member and longtime rival Purdue. Instead of facing the Boilermakers every season, Notre Dame would like to face Purdue every other season.

When Alvarez spoke during a clinic at Notre Dame earlier this spring he informed Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick that UW would be interested in filling the vacancies.

“We haven’t confirmed yet,” Alvarez said, noting officials from Purdue and Notre Dame are still working on their respective future schedules. “But yes, there is work being done on it.”
5. Purdue, contradicting Alvarez's comments, said they have no intention of putting the ND series on hiatus.
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he's in discussions with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick about extending the series past 2015.

The Boilermakers and the Fighting Irish have played every season since 1946.

"Jack and I are talking about how to take that further," Burke said. "There's been a lot of speculation about four (years) on and two off. All I'm going to tell you is it's speculation.

"I marvel at the reports that are out there. We would like to find a way to continue it."
6. And in fact, Swarbrick just yesterday confirmed that we're trying to keep the Purdue series up and running without interruption.
For those thinking the Purdue-Notre Dame game might end up taking a hiatus or changing its format, think again.

Swarbrick said Friday he’d like to continue playing the Boilermakers, the Irish’s only in-state football rival, on a yearly basis. Neither Swarbrick nor Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said a deal to continue the series has been formalized.

“The Purdue series is really important to us,” Swarbrick said. “The number of things I’ve been doing in scheduling, I’m trying to make sure we’re very mindful of our history and tradition here. When others in the Big Ten wouldn’t play us, Purdue would back early in our history.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge and not lose sight of that important assist that they gave us at a critical time. We don’t have all the future dates nailed down, but I think the chances are very high that we will continue to play Purdue.”
2010 Notre Dame Schedule
S18 @ Michigan St.
O02 @ Boston College
O16 Army (neutral site)
O23 @ Navy (Baltimore)
O30 ---
N06 ---
N20 ---
N27 @ Southern Cal

(2 games to schedule)
Perusing Mike's Future Schedules list, we still have two open games to set up for 2010. I highly doubt a Miami or Wisconsin will fill those slots, so look for more team names to surface here in the near future. Notes:
  • There are only 3 open dates. They are all late-season.
  • We have four road games scheduled (@ MSU, BC, Navy, USC). It's doubtful we would add another.
My guess: look for two one-off home games (similar to the Army and Duke filler games of '06-07) to be inked for 2010.

Finally, here's a comment to consider, from Purdue's AD Burke, in the article above.
Former Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White altered [Notre Dame's] scheduling policy before leaving for Duke in 2008. White's plan was for Notre Dame to play seven home games, one off-site game that is considered a home game and four away games each season.

White's preference was to protect rivalries with Southern California, Navy and Michigan.

"Before Kevin White went to Duke, he had a strategy he was employing," Burke said. "That may not be the same strategy that Jack Swarbrick is working with."
Burke hints at something that I've noticed, too. Apart from confirming the Army series, there haven't been any official scheduling changes emanating from Swarbrick's office since he took the job. There is no doubt, however, that the rhetoric has changed. We've gone from flatly refusing to entertain ideas from other schools, like Alabama, to actively engaging them. There seems to be a new openness, and a willingness to explore new possibilties. (To get a fuller sense of the shift, hit that link; you'll see what the White mentality looked like in the summer of 2007. "There just isn't much wiggle room," he lamely claimed). Swarbrick is at least talking as if he isn't handcuffed in the same infuriating way that White always did. Let's hope the action will match the rhetoric.