Saturday, July 7, 2012

Notre Dame Isn't Joining A Conference Anytime Soon

It’s been a long time coming, but there simply hasn’t been enough commentary or postings from us around here lately. I’m mostly to blame – Justin has been the most frequent infrequent poster of the two of us. During the time span of now and my previous post, a LOT has happened in the world at large so I figured it’s time I catch up and re-engage my passion. After all, why leave my handful of readers wondering (or worse yet perhaps not caring) about when my next post will be. While the latter may already be true, it’s time to dive in with as broad of a (keyboard) stroke as I can fathom.

BCS and Notre Dame’s position
Justin already touched on this from the VT perspective so it’s time I chime in a little on this one. Given heightened awareness around the BCS this one really hits home for Irish fans.

Notre Dame’s AD, Jack Swarbrick, has truly been an impact player and advocate for the Fighting Irish during the recent conversations amongst conference officials in determining the future state, or lack thereof, of the BCS. To make a long story short (watch the video below to see what I mean), Notre Dame came out of the whole BCS playoff picture and conference alignment mess unscathed. If anything, they’ve enhanced their position by 1) not needing to join a conference to gain access to the new playoff model and 2) enhancing their bowl partnerships with a premier bowl opportunity.

There has been much speculation about whether or not the Irish are delaying the inevitable of joining a conference by aligning to certain conference’s bowl allegiances (i.e. Orange Bowl via ACC). But with the Irish eligible for the playoff and bowls like the Orange Bowl, there is no rush to abandon the Independence Ship.

None of this, however, means the Irish won’t shop around their Olympic sports to a conference not named the Big East. Academically speaking, the ACC is the most closely aligned given the intellectually driven universities like Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia (sorry Justin), and Virginia Tech (yay Justin!). Notre Dame has little in common with the Big XII except that Texas forged it’s own quasi-independent football alliance by negotiating special TV rights outside of the Big XII’s contracts.

The fact of the matter is, Notre Dame is staying put and will do so for the foreseeable future in football. Olympic sports remain a question mark but will not be a driver in moving football into a conference. Football membership, or the absence of a clause requiring all sports to join, will be the primary cog in the system determining the fate of the University’s cash cow and identity.

The season didn’t end too nicely for Notre Dame Lacrosse as they failed to return to the title game despite advancing to championship weekend. A slow start doomed the Irish against eventual national champion Loyola (MD). Despite the disappointment, Head Coach Kevin Corrigan has done an outstanding job not only putting Irish Lacrosse on the map but turning the program into a perennial title contender.

Tiger Woods
Somebody’s got his mojo back and it’s not Austin Powers. Tiger Woods appears to be channeling visions of his former self with three tour wins already this season and one second-place finish. He passed Jack Nicklaus for all-time wins with a strong showing at The Congressional a couple weekends ago. While I’m sure he thought that was a nice notch on the belt to pass Jack, that’s not the record of Jack’s he has been most focused on breaking. At 14 major wins he still has some work to do to catch Jack (18), but given his past dominance and his recent turnaround it’s hard to imagine him not getting closer to that mark.

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