Monday, May 16, 2005

Weekend Wrap-up | by Jay

A couple of articles you may or may not have seen from over the weekend.

First up, Taylor Bell's got a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times that works as sort of a snapshot of where we are in the Weis era. A few choice quotes from Chaz:

Growing up in New Jersey, Weis was bitten by the Notre Dame bug while watching sportscaster Lindsay Nelson describe Irish football highlights on television on Sunday mornings. Church had to be scheduled around the show.

''That planted the seed,'' Weis said. ''By my junior year in high school, Notre Dame was the school of my choice. I still feel the aura of the school when I'm there, when I'm walking down the Quad. When you are on campus, I tell recruits, 'If you can't feel it, you probably shouldn't come here.'''

Weis left South Bend, Ind., on April 28 and won't return until May 27. During that time, he estimates he will have visited nearly 100 high schools in 24 states. He personally evaluated 30 prospects in the first seven days. He dumped some luggage in Rhode Island so he could travel lighter. He has obtained oral commitments from six blue-chippers and hasn't gained a pound.

'We're trying to make our presence felt, not only with seniors but with rising juniors and sophomores,'' he said. ''The most important thing we have to do is find blue-chippers all over the country, starting with the Midwest, then compete for them. We can't think that they will come here because it is Notre Dame. We must go up against schools that recruit nationally and try to beat them. That's part of being competitive..."

''My team will be known for being a team, for being prepared, for going into each game expecting to win, for playing for 60 minutes,'' he said. ''Team player. That's my trademark. You can talk about offensive or defensive gurus but I was part of a team at New England. Egos were suppressed. Team was what it was all about.

''Today, most kids dream of playing in the NFL. I coached in the NFL for 15 years. If our recruits are good enough, I should have a clue about showing them how to get there.''

Check the last part of the article for some speculation that prep QB Demetrius Jones may be Irish-bound.

Also, following on the heels of the BCS gerrymandering, there's a leak from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that our AD is talking with some of the second-tier bowls about postseason alignment (for years in which ND is not BCS-worthy, of course). It would be similar to our current arrangement with the Big East and their tie-ins with the Gator, Insight, and Continental Tire bowls (for some background on how the setup works, take a look here). The article speculates about a possible three-bowl parlay just under the BCS that includes the Cotton and the Capital One Bowl and tie-ins from the Big XII and SEC.

But here's the interesting thing:
Notre Dame Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler confirmed the Fighting Irish are having conversations about how best to marry themselves in the next round of postseason arrangements.

That might mean a continuation of Notre Dame's deal with the Big East. That might mean Notre Dame aligning itself with the Big 12. Or that might mean Notre Dame forming its own four- or five-bowl arrangement.
It's nice to know that we're being proactive on the second-tier possbilities, and a tie-in from the Big XII means that we could get ourselves into the Capital One and Cotton Bowl, where we have a little bit of history. But this raises an issue with regards to our recently-announced deal with the BCS that limits our bowl payout to a measley $4.5 million instead of a full share.

Some folks mentioned when the deal was announced that Kevin White and ND simply didn't have enough leverage to negotiate a better deal for the Irish from the BCS. Now, the Cotton Bowl and Capital One bowls are the highest-paying bowls outside of the big four (now five) BCS bowls: Cotton payed out $3 million last year, and Capital One payed out roughly $5.2 million. Raise those payouts a bit for next year, factor in the Irish TV ratings, add in the $1 million BCS courtesy fee to Notre Dame, and suddenly you're in the same neighborhood as the BCS.

In light of a possible tie-in with the Big XII, could we have negotiated more from the BCS? Who knows. But the fact is, we now face the bizarre possibility of actually taking less to play in a BCS bowl game than the Cotton or Capital One. That's right: it might be worth more to us, on paper anyway, to stay out of the BCS in those years where we're not in the title game.

The scenario isn't that implausible. Say, for instance, we go 9-2 next year ('06 season) yet still aren't ranked #1 or #2. Perfectly reasonable. We qualify for the BCS, and we get to go to the Fiesta, or something, according to the BCS rules, and reap $4.5 million playing another BCS team. Yet with Oklahoma playing in the title game (in our example), our Big XII tie-in has Capital One clamoring for an Irish appearance. Let's say their payout is $6 million by then.

You do the math. Awkward, no?