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New policy avoids questions

John Cogill | Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tim Dougherty’s guest column, (“A Foreign New Policy,” Jan.25) eloquently expounds on one of the fundamental aspects of Notre Dame’s football tradition: our national scheduling philosophy. I agree with Tim, and want to focus on debunking one popular counterargument that consistently arises from the Notre Dame Athletic Department and others as an excuse for the current scheduling model.

The counterargument goes something like “deluded alums would like to play Top 25 teams every week, and that’s just not possible.” First of all, nobody wants this, trust me. It is obviously ludicrous, and responding to it constitutes tilting at windmills in an effort to distract us from more realistic issues. We alums and fans simply want to see a quality schedule that can give Notre Dame a solid chance to be qualified and prepared for a National Championship run. In general, this means 3-5 games against marquee teams. Inevitably top teams have their down years (see: Michigan 2008-present). The 2005 schedule, in fact, is a great modern model — an interesting and geographically-diverse schedule that featured some very tough games, without a murderer’s row.

I want to see these questions, not strawmen, addressed by AD Jack Swarbrick:

1. What is wrong with having four marquee games per year?

2. Why do you think two repetitive marquee games are enough to satiate fan interest and build a National Championship season?

3. Since the majority of scheduling decisions are made with a focus on maximizing revenue, do you believe that there is long-term financial viability to the 7-4-1 format with redundant match-ups against already-uninteresting opponents? Perhaps the answer can include average football weekend bookstore sales along with consumer spending in greater South Bend for 2009 vs. 2005.

Swarbrick is in a unique position to make a relatively immediate impact. Though football schedules are usually set a decade in advance, there are holes in each schedule from 2011 forward. The current NBC contract (requiring NBC to broadcast eight “home” games) expires in 2015; even if it can’t be restructured in the short term, a new and more logical deal could be struck for 2016 onward.


John Cogill
class of 2008
Jan. 26