Notre Dame is Better Than You

Irish being good is better for college football

by Jeffrey C. Lyons | @JeffreyCLyons |

Dabo Swinney and Gary Pinkel may not like hearing this, but Notre Dame just pantsed the entire college football nation.  A Season With Notre Dame will air each Tuesday at 10 p.m. on Showtime starting September 8th.  This Hard Knocks style show will not only show-off Notre Dame to recruits, but give a fans an inside look at the Irish and a hopeful Playoff run.

Swinney and Pinkel were bemoaning the fact that Notre Dame was not in a conference during their respective conference meetings this summer.  However, it is because Notre Dame is not in a conference that this deal came together.  The Irish do not have to get permission from or share revenues with a conference, so they are free to go about contracting with whomever they want.  If A Season With Notre Dame is a success, it could lead to us getting a look inside Alabama, USC, Boise State, etc. in future years, exposing the nation to the inside workings of college football and growing the fan base.  

It is this type of freedom that allows Notre Dame to stay in front of the college football universe, whether through their own huge television contract (they do not need to create a network, NBC is doing it for them) or exclusive licensing agreement to use their logos and information for any NCAA based product.  As long as cash is king, Notre Dame has no reason to join a conference for football.  Moreover, it is harder to find a tougher schedule year after year than what the Irish play.  Yes, they have the Academies, but wouldn’t you say those schools are equal to a Vanderbilt, Illinois or Colorado program?  All top schools have some cupcake games, but how many have 4 ranked schools and the likes of Texas, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Boston College on their schedule?  Ultimately, by not being in a conference, Notre Dame has the right to book who they want, when they want and where they want on their schedule without the guilt of a weak slate.

Many believe that the power conferences will grow to 16 or more teams, creating regions and the winners of those conferences get into the playoffs.  However, maybe some schools will go the opposite direction, electing to be independents and forcing the college football system to play by their rules.  We all know that certain teams have gigantic followings and programs that are machines, so conference allegiances have no real value (insert West Virginia, Louisville, Conference USA, etc. being out of place joke here).  We really aren’t that far off too, Texas already has the foundation with the Longhorn Network, and what would stop Alabama from creating the Tide Network?  Think about it, those schools would not have to share revenues from their networks or bowl appearances with the rest of their conference, further subsidizing their own athletic programs and making their schools stronger.

If schools started pushing back and became more independent, it could really change the way teams are decided for the playoffs.  Imagine creating a system like the English Premier League, where the top 50 schools play only each other (11 games) and the top 8 teams make the playoffs.  The bottom 8 are relegated to the lower tier and the top 8 schools from the lower tier are promoted.  Games like the Iron Bowl could take on a whole new meaning if Auburn could relegate Alabama for the next season or if Michigan State could demote Michigan.  The intensity level for rivalries just got cranked way up to 11.

It seems all seems like a glorious delusional dream, but it could happen.  No matter what, the freedom that Notre Dame has with its’ football program for contracts and marketing will always make them better than the rest of college football.  Swinney and Pinkel’s comments now make more sense about Notre Dame, they were not out of spite, but envy.

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