Thursday, May 26, 2005

Eastward Ho | by Jay

There was a small item in the St. Pete Times yesterday about our AD's future scheduling agenda:

IRISH COMING?: Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White confirmed his school plans to schedule three football games with Big East teams each season, starting in 2009.

White said he has talked with USF athletic director Doug Woolard but has not discussed specific details of any future meetings. One game each season would probably be played at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, White said, but the rest would be home-and-home contracts.
Seeing as we've been playing three games a year against the Big East for quite a while now, this really isn't that big of an announcement, and with the expanded schedule, this figures to be part of the strategy to set up seven home games every year, with three or four away games and another game (or two) at a neutral site -- like the Meadowlands (as we've discussed here several times). As a certain television hero of mine is fond of saying, I love it when a plan comes together.

USF, by the way, is the University of Southern Florida, which moves into the Big East this year from Conference USA, along with former C-USA members Louisville and Cincinnati. In the reconfigured Big East, you might recall, Boston College has absconded to the ACC and Temple was kicked to the curb, which makes eight teams in the BE football lineup (as of today):

Not a great football conference; but not terrible, either. It's probably stronger with Petrino's Louisville squad than with Boston College anyway (though how long he stays put at L'ville is a factor of the coaching roulette wheel).

USF, though, isn't doing the Big East any favors. This is a school that only started playing organized football in 1997 (first game: 80-3 over Kentucky Wesleyan); only became a Division-1A program in 2001; went 8-8 in its two years in the sub-par Conference USA; has never beaten a ranked team, nor gone to a bowl game; and whose most famous football alum is the lesser of the Kicking Gramaticas. To their credit, USF seems intent on building and strengthening its program; when they were independent, they were scheduling teams like Alabama and Oklahoma on their own, and they've aggressively pursued conference membership with CUSA and now the Big East. Yet, the prospect of the Irish playing such a tenderfoot outfit seems so, I don't know...Kansas State.

Thanks to El Kabong over on NDN for the find on this item. Actually, this piece of news touched off an interesting thread on NDN, with some varied opinions on the merits of playing in NYC, the preponderance of BE football on the schedule (and the lack of SEC and Big XII opponents), and even a well-timed shot at JoePa for scheduling a limp Temple Owls team as PSU's twelfth-game opponent in '06. (This is why I don't like playing USF -- I want to be able to lord it over teams like Penn State when they hit up the pansy buffet).