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Football Commentary: Bowl bid has pros and cons

Bill Brink | Thursday, December 3, 2009

Depending on who you listen to, the coaching search is all but over. One story has you believing Bob Stoops is buying houses in Elkhart, while another makes you think Brian Kelly is in the Gug right now measuring his office for furniture.

These reports can fog over the issue of whether or not Notre Dame, who finished the season 6-6, will choose to go to a bowl game if invited. The players said they would vote on the issue Monday, and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said the decision would be made later this week.

The team’s 6-6 records limits their bowl possibilities, essentially, to four: the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26, the EagleBank Bowl inWashington, D.C. on Dec. 29, the Humanitarian Bowl on the blue field in Boise, Idaho, on Dec. 30 or the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 6. All four have unfulfilled conference obligations.

ESPN.com predicts the Irish to visit Mobile and so does cbs.sportsline.com
Should the Irish go? Here are some effects to consider.

– More money for the school. Always a good thing, even for a school with a huge endowment and television contract.

– More practice for the players, no matter who’s coaching them. If a new coach is in place, they can learn his system and adapt to his play calls, signals and terminology. It also will give him a feel for what he has to work with going into spring ball.

– One more chance to see Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate play for the Irish. Odds are at least one of them goes to the NFL, and it would give them a platform to go out on top. It would also allow the seniors to leave without the bitter taste of four straight losses in their mouths.

– A chance for some records. Sam Young could extend his consecutive starts streak and Tate could make a run at Jerome Bettis’ total touchdown record of 20 in a season set in 1991 (Tate currently has 18).

– A platform to impress recruits who may be wavering after Charlie Weis was fired. If they saw the team play as a unit they may decide to stick with the Irish. It may also lure some new recruits to the school.

– A chance to get away. Clausen said after Stanford that going to a bowl is “like a vacation,” and the Irish have been under a lot of stress this week. None of the above destinations are exactly vacation getaways like Hawaii last year, but they’re a change of scenery.

– Notre Dame might get rocked. After Tyrone Willingham was fired in 2004, defensive coordinator Kent Baer took over as interim head coach for Notre Dame’s 38-21 Insight Bowl loss to Oregon State. The team has had trouble with teams it should beat and may want to avoid an embarrassing end to the season.

– The team may not have a coach, and even if it does he may not be here before Notre Dame’s bowl game due to his own coaching obligations. None of the offensive coaches have any experience calling plays.

– The locations and times of the bowls. Playing the day after Christmas isn’t ideal, and none of the locations with the exception of Washington are major upgrades from South Bend.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
Contact Bill Brink at wbrink@nd.edu.