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Stewart Mandel on ND....


Guest Snatchy_McPants

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Guest Snatchy_McPants

Mergers and acquisitions

Adding Notre Dame would shake up the Big Ten

Posted: Tuesday July 26, 2005 12:20PM; Updated: Tuesday July 26, 2005 1:38PM

 

 

If new head coach Charlie Weis can lead the Irish to at least an eighth-best BCS ranking, Notre Dame is guaranteed a big bowl game.

 

Today's Mailbag word of the day is "merger." While it's most commonly used to describe massive business deals between competing conglomerates, usually involving lots of complicated financial terms this feeble mind couldn't possibly explain (I didn't fare so well in college econ), it also describes more simple alliances that are just a plain old good thing for everybody involved.

 

Take last Sunday night's episode of the increasingly brilliant show Entourage. A season that already has included memorable cameos from the likes of Ralph Macchio, Bob Saget and Pauly Shore introduced a new storyline involving none other than the divine, oft-mentioned-in-this-column Mandy Moore.

 

Though my girlfriend doesn't necessarily agree with my unusually elevated opinion of Ms. Moore, even she could concede that Sunday night's stunning new plot development -- that previously carefree leading man Vince once had his heart stomped by the irresistible Mandy, with whom he's supposed to co-star in an upcoming James Cameron blockbuster, and who is now engaged -- was a brilliant merger of a character's backstory with ... well, a gorgeous starlet. All that in the same 30-minute episode as a scene in which the unintentionally hilarious Drama asks Dr. Joyce Brothers an extremely personal question in the middle of a Malibu grocery store just so his buddies can steal the last box of Fruit Loops from her cart. Brilliant.

 

Nick from Cleveland has also proposed a "dream" merger of sorts, one that's far more relevant to this column than the previous two paragraphs. He writes:

 

Just for fun (because we know it is too greedy to join for now), let's say Notre Dame joined the Big Ten. How would you see the two divisions forming? My thoughts ...

 

North: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Notre Dame.

 

South: Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Indiana Iowa and Purdue.

 

First of all, I don't know if it's greed that's driving the Irish's stubbornly held independence or naïveté. As you may have read, the new BCS contract includes a stipulation that Notre Dame will be guaranteed a berth by finishing in the top eight of the standings and will pocket $1 million in revenue every season whether it reaches the BCS or not. With friendly provisions like that, why join a conference?

 

What you might not have read is that the BCS eliminated Notre Dame's golden (pun intended) parachute, which allowed it to keep the full $14.5 million payout other teams have to split with their conferences. If the Irish do reach a BCS bowl, they will receive the reduced $4.5 million share that conferences receive when they send a second team to the BCS.

 

That's still not shabby, but let's be realistic: Charlie Weis or no Charlie Weis, even an improved Irish program will not finish in the top eight on a regular basis. Don't take it personally, Domers; the same could be said for almost any school in the country. ND's only bowl tie-ins are through the now-depleted Big East. Even with Notre Dame attached, bowls haven't exactly been beating down the door to re-up with the conference, as discussed last week.

 

Here's guessing all it will take is a couple too many New Year's Eves in Memphis or El Paso before the Irish start cozying back up to the Big Ten and its seven bowl opportunities -- almost all of them in exotic locations like Orlando and Tempe -- the combined total of which provide a pretty decent revenue source even when split 12 ways.

 

That's still not shabby, but let's be realistic: Charlie Weis or no Charlie Weis, even an improved Irish program will not finish in the top eight on a regular basis. Don't take it personally, Domers; the same could be said for almost any school in the country. ND's only bowl tie-ins are through the now-depleted Big East. Even with Notre Dame attached, bowls haven't exactly been beating down the door to re-up with the conference, as discussed last week.

 

Here's guessing all it will take is a couple too many New Year's Eves in Memphis or El Paso before the Irish start cozying back up to the Big Ten and its seven bowl opportunities -- almost all of them in exotic locations like Orlando and Tempe -- the combined total of which provide a pretty decent revenue source even when split 12 ways.

 

If and when that day comes, it will be a win-win merger for both the program and conference, but the divisional alignments could be a nightmare. First of all, I don't know if it's even possible to do it geographically. There's no particularly logical North-South or East-West divider, and no matter what you do, Penn State is going to be far away from somebody. Second of all, you have to protect all those annual trophy matchups (the Little Brown Jug, the Floyd of Rosdale, Paul Bunyan's Ax, etc.).

 

But most significant is the Ohio State-Michigan issue. They need to play every year, and I don't think anyone would want to see them move their traditional, late-November date to earlier in the season, a la Florida State-Miami. That said, would you really want the Buckeyes and Wolverines to face each other again two weeks later? I think you have to put them on the same side, even if that means creating what right now might seem like unbalanced divisions. My proposed lineup would be:

 

Division A: Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin

 

Division B: Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern

 

This lineup places two "marquee" programs in each division (granted, the two in Division B aren't exactly pulling their weight right now) and ensures that almost every existing rivalry (Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State, Michigan-Minnesota, Iowa-Minnesota, Wisconsin-Minnesota, Notre Dame-Purdue, Purdue-Indiana and Illinois-Northwestern) would be played every season. Now that's a Vince-Mandy Moore caliber merger.

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Guest Irish19

I am all for staying an Independant, but I would not mind being in a conference either. It just seems like ND is being left behind since they are not in a conference. With the new bowl affiliations, ND has to reach a BCS bowl 2 out of every four years at least to be guaranteed a bowl slot each year.

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Guest Snatchy_McPants

I normally keep tight-lipped about Stewart Mandel, basically because even though he seemingly refuses to include Notre Dame in any of his discussions, at least he isn't bashing them. Now, all of a sudden, he decides to put in his two cents, apparently without really researching the topic. "Joining the Big Ten would be a win-win"??? He goes on to cite the diminishing bowl revenues, difficulty of staying in the top eight, yada yada yada. He forgot one little piece of the puzzle............our friggin' NBC CONTRACT! Bowl or no bowl, we still have very lucrative revenues. I'm going to disregard his statements about Notre Dame not being good enough any more, because let's face it, it's his opinion and the Irish haven't exactly been elite the past few seasons. You just get the feeling reading this "article" that Stewart Mandel couldn't care less about Notre Dame, and obviously dislikes them so much as to not really even research the topic. If so, he might have noticed that ND-Michigan is a slightly bigger rivalry than ND-Purdon't. I have some news for ya Stewie, ignoring Notre Dame won't make us go away. Good luck trying to hide your disdain when we are back on top. GO IRISH!

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Guest Snatchy_McPants

Sorry for anyone who read that before I updated it with the 2nd half of the article. My brain is effin shot for the day.

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Guest IrishHog

I like the situation we are in now, but if push came to shove and we were going to join a conference, the big ten is where i would like to see us. please don't let us join the big east.

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Guest Irish19

The only logical reason to join a conference was for bowl purposes. I have faith in CW & Co. that we can qualify for a BCS bowl a minimum of two every four years. The other two years I would be more than happy with a Gator or Sun Bowl appearance.

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Guest IrishTobey

as far as a conference i've always thought nd should stay independent but i think if they did i would like to see the big east make penn state and nd an offer that they can't refuse and then add Navy. we play them every year anyway so make it a conference win and i think it would be great to have one of the service academies in a BCS conference anyway. If that happened ND/Penn st would be the flagship rivalry every conference needs.

Uconn, Louisville, Pitt, ND, Penn ST, S. Florida, Cincinatti, Navy, Syracuse, and West Virginia would be a very good conference. It would mean ND would have 9 conference games and leave 3 to play USC and Michigan and whoever they want to add. It would mean the Navy game would be a conference win every year. It would mean that ND would play games in and against teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and the North east. all critical recruiting areas. Then i think they should drop non-football schools from the conference and make it a ten team conference. Obviously the chances of Penn ST leaving the Big ten and ND joining a conference are slim but I just don't think the big ten and nd are nice fit. nd is in the midwest but they are not a midwest school. they are a national school with a huge emphasis in the east. anyway i better get back to work. just my thoughts

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The only way I would even tolerate the slim chance of us joining the Big East is if Penn State joined and we played USC Michigan and Michigan St. for the ooc games.

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Guest IrishTobey

that's my point, i would never want to see ND in a conference but if had to happen i like the big east scenario alot better if and only if it included Penn State. As far as the ooc schedule it would have to have USC every year but after that i could see playing michigan, purdue, michigan state, etc... every other year to keep some of the rivalries in tact. again i am in no way saying i would like to see nd in a conference but if they had to join one in the future i don't think it would be the end of the world depending on how it was set up

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Guest Irish19

If we so happened to join a conference, the Big Ten is the only logical selection. One the bowl affiliations are much better. Two we could still keep our Michigan, MSU, and Purdue rivalries intact and keep USC, Navy, and any other school as our non-conference games. Keep in mind I am still heavily against moving to a conference.

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Guest Snatchy_McPants

I'm sorry, but there's just no way ND can join a conference, and I refuse to even speculate what conference it could theoretically be. There is just too much benefit to being able to play anyone, anywhere, anytime, plus the rivalry games. It is a truly unique situation to Notre Dame, so using traditional logic based on any other team simply does not work. Always original, always independent, always IRISH!

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Guest SirJohn

I have to agree with Scratchy above. NO CONFERENCE!

 

Although, this isn't the best schdule in 2005 that I ever saw, right now ND is listed as three games of the week to watch on TV. USC has 1 (and a sort of added on of interest for the #2 game to watch) Right there you have 6-6 ND more popular then the National Champion and boreing USC.

 

I like the "pick and choose our opponents", not being tied to some conference over and over again.

 

Let's look at the BCS, Ok? Call it USC and Florida 2005. You have rabid fans from Cal and Fla a huge payout and little interest from the 48 other states.

 

If one thing is true USC will soon NOT be National Champion and all the money they earned is spent and gone. Someone else will be National Champion for a year or two in the sun. So one should not just look at the payout.

 

Pop ND into a game with anyone in a bowl and, let's say a less payout but HUGE National audience. (Mini Bowl Idea?) Even with a crummy team in 2004 ND had some nice nielson ratings. Those sell the cars, the doritos, the Coke, the beer and Advertisers pay attention to that.

 

Sir John

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