Friday, July 20, 2007

It's a flexible kind of tradition

Notre Dame is Timbuktu -- a gathering place in the middle of nowhere, where people barter and exchange ideas. Except that at Notre Dame the goods aren't ivory and precious metal, but pretty wax wings and illusions about medium-grade celebrity quarterbacks.

Still, few dispute that the University of Notre Dame physically exists. It includes a collection of structures frequented by persons willing to provide atmosphere for a middling football program. There are buildings, and some persons enter and exit those buildings. Irrespective of how much a person hates Notre Dame (be it extreme hatred or a more epic kind) we all agree that, without question, the entity includes structures, as well as persons affiliated with those structures

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will face Washington State in San Antonio on Oct. 31, 2009. The game at the Alamodome will be the first of annual offsite games Notre Dame plans to play to try to make its contests more accessible to fans around the country.

A middling football program should travel cross-country to play another middling football program in the Republic of Texas. There is no football in Texas. Notre Dame students and alumni, who are used to attending home games on Notre Dame's campus, gladly give of themselves to show Texas the way.
"We believe these events will provide great opportunities for fans to see our team play when they may be otherwise challenged to travel or obtain tickets for games in South Bend," he said.
How true. As there is no football in Texas, the state's desperate citizens and its many, many Notre Dame fans look north to the green light and the orgiastic future. Besides, Notre Dame's students and alumni don't need to be actually present at "home" games. This game will be broadcast on NBC, and they see plenty of "home" games besides. It would be selfish of the football program to play all of its "home" games at its actual "university." The world is Notre Dame's home.

Of course, playing a "home" game in Texas may "otherwise challenge[]" the normal students, fans and alumni who expect to, like, go to their school's home games and shit. Fly to Texas on wax wings, maybe?
"Notre Dame has never played in San Antonio, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program in a new city, and in a state in which we have a strong emphasis in recruiting," Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White said Friday.
Oh.

Looks like somebody buried the lede. A roadshow wherein a middling program plays another middling program at a location where neither has historical ties or a recognizable fan or alumni base might be a fine idea. It will be like a fake bowl game on Halloween -- and on a Sunday no less, so NBC can counterprogram the NFL. So it's pretty much like a bowl game and an NFL game in October, all rolled into one. It helps recruiting. So who needs "home" games at "home?" Maybe all Notre Dame "home" games should alternate between the Alamodome, the Meadowlands and the Citrus Bowl. Will help recruiting.

The program could play Texas, or Texas A&M, perhaps even SMU or Texas Tech, and gain exposure in Texas. If showcasing the program in a new city and giving this alleged legion of Notre Dame fans in Texas an opportunity to watch the game were an actual goal, Notre Dame could schedule a match against one of several high-quality Texas programs.

If the goal involves recruiting, an away game at Austin or College Station may very well be a bust. Far better to schedule another middling team on neutral ground.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will play football games at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., in 2011 and 2014.

A middling football program should travel cross-country to play another middling football program in the football-deprived state of Florida. There is no football in Florid-

It is an attempt to return the school to its independent roots.
The idea is to be independent of a conference, not independent of a campus or students.

Athletic director Kevin White has said the goal is to travel to different parts of the country and ensure that the school remains a nationwide program.

USC doesn't have a problem maintaining a nationwide program. It doesn't take its home games on the road to perform exhibitions in Chicago or Atlanta or Jefferson City, Missouri. Florida, Ohio State, Texas, LSU, Oklahoma and Michigan -- we're all doing just fine, as are Wisconsin, Penn State, Texas A&M, lowly Boise State and humble Hawaii, and none of these programs has an exclusive contract with a national television network. They subsist just fine.
White has compared playing "home" games at other sites to the barnstorming approach that Knute Rockne took while coaching the Irish in the 1920s.

In the 1920s, Notre Dame actually symbolized something. For example, a great man named Al Smith, then governor of New York, ran for President 1928. As the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, he was subject to the most vicious ethnic smear campaign in American political history. The cruelty of it ruined him as a person. In the 1920s, Notre Dame proved that even though the country despised Catholics, the Irish, and other immigrants, their boys could still pummel your ass on the football field. This was an important chapter in what college football meant in American social life.

It wasn't a cheap marketing ploy. Call it what it is -- cynical, commercial, self-interested or just fucking weird. But don't pretend that this football program respects tradition (its own, or the game's in general) when the team flies to San Antonio or Orlando on wax wings, in hopes of impressing four-star safeties and the NBC sports department.

17 comments:

Cock D said...

If they want to play in the Alamo Bowl, they can join the Big Ten, lose to Michigan, OSU, PSU, and Wisconsin each year and finish 5th in the conference. That's the best way to ensure major exposure in Texas...

Awwww, whom am I kidding: we all know a 8-4 ND team would get a BCS bid; the above plan would NEVER work!!!!

Betty said...

You are dissing my hometown, son! Don't you know my dad is a huge legacy there. His father was the athletic trainer for about 30 years, which apparently is a huge deal!

c said...

Good evening --

CD: The most frustrating and entitled program in college football. I understand why they want to be independent, and that's fine; I also understand that they deserve some degree of respect based on their track record. But this new development is just absurd, and to try to couch it in these glorified terms -- stomach turning. Not to mention that, as a concern troll, their actual students and alumni have good reason to be irate. I've gone bonkers about my school for far lesser stupidity.

Betty: That's okay -- I don't blame you.

crimenotes said...

That was me.

JebusHChrist said...

I think along with their sense of entitlement, it's their sleazy myopic "we're god's team" attitude that makes me sicker than anything else. Now, players thank god after a success, which, whatever, it's just something they do, it's replaced hi mom, fine, I don't even hear it anymore. But with Notre Dame, and most of their fans, it's like they believe they're vessels for god. Their ridiculous sense of self-importance is unprecedented. It's like when they shit, they think they're shitting for god. I hate them, quite a bit.
(Sorry - I also hate it when people write a 500 word comment on a post)

voidoid said...

OK, time for the ND grad to chime in.

Kevin White, our esteemed athletic director, is not well-liked amongst the alumni, as his scheduling policy is pathetically weak - he recently inked a deal to play three Big East teams each season. In the past decade, ND has played a lot of marquee matchups. Obviously we play USC every year, and try to play Michigan, and since 1996 we've had series with Tennessee, Florida State, Ohio State, Washington (back when they were good), LSU, Oklahoma, Geogia Tech and Nebraska. White is making damn well sure that these sorts of games don't happen again - he recently refused overtures from both Oklahoma and Georgia.

ND typically plays a neutral site game when Navy is the home team (like it or not, we play Navy every year). This, for nearly all ND fans, should be the only neutral site game we play. This Washington State bullshit and whatever fucking pushover we play in the Citrus Bowl (I smell Vandy, they're an SEC opponent!!) is a fucking atrocity.

You should understand that the ND fan base exists in Texas (gigantic alumni network there) and ND fans will travel literally anywhere to see them play - we sold out a hurling stadium in Dublin ten years ago in a matchup against Navy. Getting a ticket to a game in South Bend is extremely difficult, even for a donating alumnus.

So, in summary, ND's AD sucks ass, his scheduling policy is terrible, ND is much better at recruiting than Michigan, and your Gatsby quote also kind of sucks ass.

Cock D said...

ND is better at recruiting than Michigan?

Care to explain how?

Michigan has just as much national coverage.

Michigan does just as well getting 4 and 5 star players.

Michigan's players develop as well or better in college (Darius Walker (ND Starting RB) didnt even get drafted?!?!?!).

One thing ND has going for it over Michigan is the TV deal, but if U of M had a religious affiliation, I am sure they could pick up millions of the flock as viewers

crimenotes said...

Good afternoon.

Jebus: I really like a lot of Notre Dame grads personally and haven't run into the theological tones you've described -- although touchdown Jesus is loathsome. Honestly, half the time my beef isn't with the Notre Dame fans (at least the alumni -- the subway fans are a different matter) as Charlie Weis, the school's administrators and the media fawning. That said, alumni I know from other schools (Michigan most especially) are extremely tough on their teams and program. Certain schools, particularly Notre Dame, LSU, 'Bama and Penn State, seem more prone to a kind of delusion and entitlement, a we-can-do-no-wrong mentality. This manifests itself in a lot of excuses and a certain persecution complex. Red Sox fans do the same thing. I hate it.

Voidoid and Cock D: Kevin White's a bit of a mess. I enjoyed the Notre Dame message boards blaming him for Michigan's most-favored-nation clause in the Adidas contract.

I don't begrudge the school playing the service academies (I think it's a nice tradition, actually) and neutral sites occasionally make sense. I like how Texas and Oklahoma play in Dallas. If Michigan and Notre Dame occasionally played each other in Chicago, there'd be a certain logic to it. This is just fucking weird.

The team also travels well, I know, and although I can't claim any first-hand knowledge as to the school's alumni presence in Texas, I'm a little skeptical that there's anything resembling a "gigantic alumni network" there. I'm talking out of my ass, but ND doesn't have huge graduating classes. For all I know Texas is to Notre Dame what Chicago and New York are to Michigan, and that's just where you fuckers like to congregate en masse after college. If that's the case, it's further evidence of that school's tremendous weirdness.

My Gatsby quote fucking rocked and you know it.

Recruiting: I know Notre Dame has been on a recruiting tear this year and has had a strong edge on recruits deciding between the two schools. But like a good real estate speculator, Michigan generally does an extremely good job in spotting underdeveloped properties and never suffers where recruiting is concerned. So if that's your bragging point -- uh ...

As to Michigan's religious affiliations: as far as I can tell, they include potheads, atheists, secular Jews and Hindus, roughly in that order. I once met an Episcopalian there. He seemed nice.

CrimeNotes said...

More horrible scheduling news from South Bend:

A story in the (Ala.) Press-Register today said, "White said the Fighting Irish will take a short break from their Big 10 rivals in the future, replacing Michigan with Oklahoma for a two-year period, then facing Arizona State instead of Michigan State for two years."

Martin said earlier this summer that the hangup in the contract renegotiations was U-M's intent to get the Notre Dame home game in the opposite year of Ohio State, unlike the previous setup.

But that would conflict with Notre Dame's intent to do something similar with USC.

Apparently, taking a break from the series may be the immediate remedy.

Cock D said...

BTW - Al Smith, Notre Dame scheduling, and Gatsby quotes all in one place.

Thank you for providing some of the better entertainment I get.

voidoid said...

ND does have a very extensive nationwide alumni network, as kids attend the school from all over the country. There are probably more Midwesterners than anything (Illinois, Michigan and Ohio in particular) but as a private school they get 'em from everywhere, Texas no exception.

I hate to see the Michigan series come to an end (although Oklahoma is a prety solid substitute, I guess), but the Irish should never take MSU off the schedule. After USC they are our biggest historical rival.

And the Gatsby quote was pretty sweet.

dmbmeg said...

Why the hell did they pick Wash St? Who the fuck goes to that school anyways?

CrimeNotes said...

Yeah yeah -- I know Notre Dame has a national alumni, but they graduate about 2,000 a year (at least per Wikipedia). So, estimating very liberally, let's say that 10% of alumni live in Texas. 200 times 50 (living alumni age 22-72) would still just be 10,000, which is probably a fraction of alumni in driving distance of Chicago.

Al Smith + Gatsby + football scheduling: some of my favorite things all at once. Thanks.

CrimeNotes said...

Who the fuck goes to that school anyways?

I'm guessing, nice kids who are intimidated by the bright lights and big city of Seattle.

Crunk Raconteur said...

I just like that, in all of these comments, there's a random dig at my alma mater (unlike the usual digs at my favorite college foots team, which are usually more overt).

That said, Notre Dame actually did play my lovable loser Commodores once when I was there. Of course, they came to Nashville to do it instead of playing them in, say, Charlotte or something.

Actually, Notre Dame would be welcome back to Nashville any time. The Loveless Cafe, right outside of town, is regularly ranked among the best breakfasts in America, and serves slabs of country ham that are like the cross section of a pig (seriously, it overlaps the plate it's served on on all sides), which I think would be of interest to Charlie Weis.

And, slightly off the subject, but still Notre Dame related...could Brady Quinn PLEASE stop making it as hard as possible for us Notre-Dame-hating Browns fans to talk ourselves into him?

JebusHChrist said...

It was not my intention to say all ND fans are self-aggrandizing assholes. Just every one I've ever met. I'm sure there are normal fans, players, and alumni from ND that I haven't met. If I have the good fortune to meet one, I will treat them with kindness and respect, as I do everyone else I meet.
Thank you.

CrimeNotes said...

CR -- You're stuck with him now, so deal.

Jebus: You are the last true gentleman, sir. If you want to besmirch them en masse, I don't have any objection.