Last September, I penned a post on this glorious website detailing the reasons why Notre Dame decided to end the rivalry with Michigan. Coach Hoke offered his unique perspective, and then, not to be upstaged, Coach Brian Kelly chimed in as well.
None of that matters. Notre Dame visited Ann Arbor for the last time on Saturday. They will never be back.
Even after the thrilling victory, the emergence of Jeremy Gallon, and Devin Gardner’s ability to escape with his legs and still find an open receiver (see what having an actual quarterback is like), I found myself wondering why Notre Dame would want all of this to end. Last year’s game, a Notre Dame victory and great (albeit fake) story-line catapulted the Fighting Irish onto an undefeated season and berth in the BCS Championship. Why would they want this to end?
Keeping their Independence is paramount to the folks in South Bend. By not joining a conference, they do not have to share any revenue of their deal with NBC to broadcast every game. Pairing with the ACC, and hand-picking their opponents, all-the-while avoiding Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Miami (in the near future), gives Notre Dame their best chance at doing what every fan wants their team to do: compete for national supremacy.
Being Brian Kelly and Jack Swarbrick must be exhausting, much the same with David Brandon and Brady Hoke. ND and UM both have storied traditions, active Alumni Associations, and ridiculously high expectations every year. Notre Dame’s goal is to maintain their autonomy and, “return to glory,” so why wouldn’t they ditch Michigan and replace them with NC State? Which game is more certain of victory? Plus, three of the five games against the ACC schedule will be played in South Bend, so Notre Dame comes out ahead, financially speaking. Why wouldn’t they do it?
Whether fans of Michigan, Notre Dame, or even Ohio admit it or not, the mere weight of the programs give the schools advantages over other schools, and that is why I do not begrudge Notre Dame, Ohio, or even Michigan of scheduling weak out-of-conference opponents. If I could schedule Army, Navy, Duke, NC State, Virginia, and Syracuse, plus MSU, Purdue, and USC (by the way, every time Lane Kiffin loses, an angel gets its wings), maybe lose one game, and be in the hunt for the National Title, I would.
Ohio State’s schedule this year is ridiculously laughable, but why shouldn’t it be? What do they gain by playing an LSU or Florida State early in the season? They can schedule Buffalo and San Diego State, roll through the B1G, and be the sacrificial lamb to Alabama this year. Why not? Having a winning program, appearances in BCS Bowl games, and the money the university receives from its winning football team are all worth the taunts and constant pictures of cupcakes on twitter. “Hey, Johnny 5-Star, we only played Akron (UM) or Buffalo (Ohio), but we have these neat B1G Championship rings, national exposure, and the best chance to market your skills to the NFL, but other teams that didn’t get this far said we’re not good.”
Notre Dame did exactly what was best for its program. Swarbrick is charged with protecting the Notre Dame brand, and that’s exactly what he did. Don’t hate Notre Dame, hate the ACC for caving in to every Irish demand as they line their pockets with all of the increased revenue, and the NCAA for suffering from testicular absentia when it comes to the Golden Domers.
With all that being said, I still hate Notre Dame.