ND unsure if team will go to bowl
Justin Schuver | Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Notre Dame associate athletic director John Heisler alerted the media Tuesday the Irish have not yet made a decision on whether to still attend the Insight Bowl in the wake of head coach Tyrone Willingham’s firing.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White stated the players would meet to discuss the bowl situation in a meeting at 6 p.m. No decision was made after the meeting, but Heisler suggested a decision might be reached sometime today.
White said in the press conference Tuesday he still believes the players on this year’s team should have the ability to attend the Insight Bowl in Phoenix if they so desire.
“The young people in our program have earned the right to play in a bowl,” White said. “If they want to go to the bowl, then we’ll support them.”
Notre Dame finished the season 6-5 after a 41-10 loss to USC Saturday in the team’s last game of the regular season. But with six wins, the Irish are still bowl eligible and the team agreed to participate in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28.
Notre Dame officially signed the contract for the bowl Sunday.
White said Notre Dame agreed to the decision to attend the bowl, even with the possibility of a coaching change looming on the horizon.
“There were two separate tracks there,” White said. “We had a contractual obligation with the secondary bowl package and the Big East conference, and we felt that we needed to participate in the way that the contract suggested.”
Notre Dame, if it elects to participate in the bowl, will face a Pac-10 opponent in the Insight Bowl at the Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, the home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Potential opponents for the bowl are Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA – with a decision expected Dec. 5.
The bowl would be Notre Dame’s 26th postseason bowl appearance in the team’s history, and its first in the Insight Bowl, which has been in existence 16 years under various names.
“I think we want to do what’s right for the players,” Heisler said at Tuesday’s press conference. “They’ve spent six months, if not four years, to try to get to this point. And we’re not prepared to just take this away from them if they want to go to Tempe and play in the Insight Bowl.”
Shawn Schoeffler, vice president of media relations for the Insight Bowl, said he still expects Notre Dame to attend the bowl and has not even considered a backup plan if the Irish decide not to participate.
“We haven’t even discussed [the possibility of Notre Dame not attending],” Schoeffler said. “It’s never happened in the history of college football so we’re not even planning for it to happen.
“Right now it looks like it’s going to be Notre Dame versus UCLA, which is a matchup that should bring a lot of excited fans, and we’re excited to put on a good game for them.”